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North Kansas City brewer reflects on challenges as queer woman in craft beer industry

Bri Burrows.png
Posted at 5:16 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-19 21:31:56-04

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For Bri Burrows, who identifies as a lesbian, breaking into the craft brewery industry wasn't always easy.

Burrows, head brewer and part-owner at Big Rip Brewing Co. in North Kansas City, Missouri, said recalls being overlooked, pushed aside and stepped in front of.

“It sucks," Burrows said. "I mean, it doesn’t make me feel good for sure,. We need people to understand that this is a straight, white, male-dominated industry.”

She has been in the craft beer industry since 2014, after being introduced to the craft by her older brother and father. Family gatherings always consisted of sharing the beers they brewed for each other.

“It’s a really good feeling when you make a beer, and it turns out exactly how you wanted it,” Burrows said. “It’s like an accomplishment, you know? Just with beer, you gotta wait a couple weeks to feel it.”

She started out brewing at home until she began working at Big Rip one day a week. After the assistant brewer left, she learned how to brew professionally.

Soon, she went from assistant brewer, to brewer, to head brewer. And in January 2020, became a part owner of the brewery.

“I never really tried hard to find something I was passionate about," Burrows said. "So kind of stumbling into beer and realizing that it’s an actual career and it’s a life I can make for myself, I became passionate about it.”

Burrows said she encourages more people to have open conversations within the company about inclusivity and hopes her business can brew the right kind of example.

“It’s called, ‘Things We Don’t Say,’ and it’s a craft beer for mental health," Burrows said of the newest beer on the menu. "So it’s meant to start a conversation about mental health, which is always… ignored in the beer industry."

While she has found a safe place for her and her partner here, Burrows said Kansas City has a long way to go.

“I have the queer flag hanging up," Burrows said. "It’s not for me. It’s not to tell people, 'I am queer,' but it's to show queer people that they are welcome here.”