Local pub event creates safe spaces for a spectrum of experiences
By Katy Cobb
Spending blissfully tipsy Sunday afternoons wandering between the breweries of Yeast Van sipping craft beer samples has become an indispensable local pastime, but not everyone feels totally comfortable in these brewery spaces.
“There’s a real need for queer pub space in Vancouver, where folks can comfortably mingle,” says Ryn Broz, founder of Queers & Beers, a meet-up group aimed at creating LGBTQ-friendly beer events.
After visiting breweries with her friends, Broz found herself “wishing there were more queer pub-style bars in East Vancouver where folks could hang out and chat.”
This led her to create Queers & Beers, a queer, trans* and ally-friendly event celebrating and exploring craft beer in the city.
The group began meeting monthly and quickly gained popularity. Broz eventually created a Facebook group for the event, resulting in the steady increase of attendees ever since. Over the past year, participation in the events has grown so much that Broz has has begun to seek out larger venues.
“After filling a few tasting lounges where people had to be turned away due to capacity, I decided it would be fun to host a larger party-style craft beer tasting,” Broz says, most recently packing the Cobalt on Feb. 21.
So what has made Queers & Beers so successful?
“I think people like [the events] because yes, folks love craft beer, but also because people can hear each other, chat, and meet new people. It’s not a dance or performance night, which are both great events but don’t facilitate conversation…it’s a chill drinking space as opposed to a party space,” Broz explains.
The vibe inside The Cobalt was decidedly laid-back: in one corner a Nintendo 64 and a vintage velvet couch invited friendly competition; foosball matches elicited squeals of excitement and grilled cheese sandwiches from the Melt City food truck made for delicious conversation starters.
Broz is incredibly mindful when planning Queers & Beers events, carefully selecting accessible spaces, offering gender-neutral washrooms and operating a sliding-scale entry fee.
“Queer folks have many different financial realities, and being underemployed or economically marginalized should not exclude folks from events. With the sliding scale system, people can make the decision to pay within their means.”
A portion of each ticket sale is donated to a charitable organization, and because Queers & Beers is held on unceded Coast Salish lands, a fixed amount from each event is donated to Indigenous sovereignty movements such as the Unist’ot’en Camp, a peaceful occupation preventing the development of pipelines through traditional territory.
Broz says although her events don’t create a lot of revenue, “paying forward where I can is just part of being a responsible community member…supporting organizations that are community-based and anti-oppressive is important for me.”
The most recent Queers & Beers event benefited All Bodies Swim, a volunteer-run grassroots group organizing body-positive nights at a public pool.
As for that tipsy Sunday afternoon stroll between tasting rooms? Broz says she’s thinking of organizing queer brewery hopping tours in the future, so get your growlers ready.
Check out Queers & Beers on Facebook to find out about upcoming events
Katy is a crazy cat lady who habitually spoils healthy recipes with copious amounts of cheese. You’ll find her backpacking in the mountains, re-organizing her bookshelf, or attempting to befriend wild animals.