Updated: Mar 5
Today we’d like to introduce you to Ken Noble, AK Babers, Nick Jack, and Rodney Woodard.
Ken, AK, Nick, and Rodney, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today? The four members of Hop Topic World were all members of a Facebook group called “Houston Chapter Brothas and Craft Beer” and without having ever met before we decided to organize a beer share. While getting to know each other and discussing our love for craft beer we fell into a discussion about one common thing that we had all encountered at Houston breweries, a major lack of diversity in front of and behind the bar. Instead of just complaining about the problem we agreed to work together to be the solution. Within 24 hours we created our name, Hop Topic, and our platform which is to combat the lack of diversity in the craft beer community with tangible steps toward authentic inclusion.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been an easy path. One of our biggest challenges is finding a way to get more minorities into the craft breweries that haven’t welcomed them in before. Most people within our demographics have never set foot into a brewery. This could be a direct consequence of the current marketing which does not appear to work towards ensuring a wider variety of gender, ethnicity and sexual fluidity in the industry. It’s also very likely that our target demographic doesn’t feel comfortable in breweries because they don’t see faces that mirror their own. We have a somewhat delicate task of bringing attention to the discriminatory undertones in the craft beer industry to owners and marketers while also promoting inclusivity to our audience.
Hop Topic World – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition? We are four guys with an absolute love for craft beer from a demographic the industry perhaps unwittingly overlooked. This is our platform. Our connection with the experience of invisibility within the craft beer community and our innate understanding of our cultures allows us to create lasting relationships with minorities within the craft beer world and reach groups that seem out of range to current brewers and marketing teams.
Hop Topic was formed because four strangers saw the need for diversity in the craft beer community. We are a social and cultural media platform striving to promote inclusion and diversity in the craft beer community. We want to inform people by using our website, social media, and events to bring craft beer to the vast variety of ethnicities and genders currently underrepresented in the industry.
The best things we do are drink beer, travel, connect, relate party and create comfortability in those that like beer but are a bit nervous to set foot in the craft beer world. We want everyone, and we mean everyone, to know that they are a part of this movement although the community doesn’t see us right now. We are going to make you visible and that is what sets us apart from other social media and marketing influencers.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on? Tough question. We love what we do and every moment stands out because the entire journey has been amazing. Including writing for this article! If we had to name just one event that we really feel we all came together with a true representation of who we are would. We say it was hosting a booth at the annual Flying Saucer Sugar Land Beerfeast. This was a pretty major event for us because we were surrounded by the audience we needed to reach. This gave us a chance to share who we are, interact directly with our audience and talk to people about their personal experience of diversity in craft beer. During this event, we also collaborated on a live podcast with “What’s Up In the Cup?”, a podcasting team we met through the craft beer community. Patrons loved our booth because they saw their faces mirrored in our own. The pride was evident. We gave people a voice to discuss their feeling of invisibility within the industry and the stories of discrimination were incredible. We feel like this event really showed people who Hop Topic is and what we stand for. How awesome it was to do all of this while jamming great music and drinking some damn good beer.
Our merchandise varies in price. It’s free to be a member of Hop Topic and new members receive 10% off merch just for signing up.
Image Credit: Ak Babers