March 2021 Feature: Tas Fraser, Cider Reviewer in Ontario, Canada
Turning a few bad apples into some delicious cider.
In December 2020, Tas Fraser was scrolling through Instagram on her account @girlwithaciderreview when she saw a familiar photo: a picture of herself that she’d originally posted on her own feed in June the same year. Next to her were several stolen pictures of other women, all holding bottles and cans of cider, aggregated together with a caption indicating that by posing for photographs wearing bikinis, the women weren’t to be taken seriously, regardless of their experience, expertise, or enjoyment of cider.
The man behind the sexist post, who has since deleted it, is a fellow cider reviewer — an extra blow, coming from someone who should have been a colleague rather than a critic. “It was disappointing to see that and upsetting, I know, for many of my friends as well, that were also in the pictures,” says Fraser. But after the experience, she decided to turn those bad apples into cider by addressing the incident publicly, demanding accountability from those who erroneously feel empowered to judge women claiming control of their own bodies and how they are portrayed.
Within a day, Fraser launched #NoAppleogies, a social media movement to counter sexism in the cider industry and beyond. “No Appleogies itself is meant for a way for women in the drink industry to be able to feel empowered and [know] that they're in a safe place,” she explains. “They're not going to be judged for what they're wearing or what they're doing. It's a movement to create that inclusive environment — not just in cider, of course — but in all the drink industry: in terms of hiring, in terms of reviewing, in terms of cider making, and trying to have a more equal playing field for everyone.”
Reclaiming the online narrative is a crucial part of the movement, but Fraser doesn’t plan on it stopping there. “Sexism is not just on social media,” she says. “It's in many other in many other arenas as well.” From unconscious bias in hiring to an unequal hierarchy regarding the need for professional certifications, discrimination across gender, race, and sexual orientation knows no bounds.
No Appleogies is the latest in an increasingly long string of online initiatives launched in the wake of racist, sexist, or otherwise problematic behavior. After beer blogger Chalonda White received a racist email regarding her position in the craft beer community, #IAmCraftBeer was born. Other beer influencers like @isbeeracarb and @thegirlwithbeer have spoken out against sexism and harassment as well, and while Fraser thinks this type of conversation in cider was likely inevitable — thanks to a deeply engrained sexist culture as well as everyone on the planet feeling extra punchy from pandemic isolation — it’s still disheartening to be on the receiving end.
“I think that it was only a matter of time before something like this turned into something bigger,” she says. “All it takes is someone to say something, because I could have left it… it’s said often with many sexist comments that it’s just a joke and I don’t understand. I just don’t think that it [sexist behavior'] should ever be welcomed here or anywhere else, really. So if it wasn’t me saying something, it would have been someone else at some point.”
Despite the challenges she anticipates after publicly pushing back against inequality, Fraser has no plans to exit the cider industry, a community she’s been a part of for years. “Meeting people with this cider account, it definitely grew my confidence. But probably even a couple of years ago, I would not have been able to say something like I did here, to stand up to someone in this way in such a large, public scale,” she admits. “But I realized the importance of doing these things publicly, and that it wasn't just for me that I said something, it was for an entire community. It’s changed a lot of things and it’s brought a lot of people together.”
She hopes that her voice will help others join the chorus against prejudice across all segments of the alcohol beverage industry. Since launching the initiative, Fraser has also released multiple videos showcasing women in cider speaking about their experiences, and is working with a number of cideries to address issues like sexism and diversity as part of their core operations. She’s been humbled by the response, although she admits there have been a number of typically antiquated replies to the movement. Overall though, No Appleogies has seen support from every corner of the cider world. “I don’t know what I was expecting when I posted the original project… I guess I expected it to be something for women to empower themselves,” Fraser says. “But I was pleasantly surprised to see men getting on board as well. I think it’s important that as men, they’re standing up for equality for everyone in saying ‘this is wrong.’ They’re educating a whole other group of the population that I may not be reaching.”
Her experience is far from the first time a man has felt emboldened enough to publicly present his unsolicited opinion about women’s appearances, and likely far from the last. But with advocates like Fraser, misguided patriarchal attitudes aren’t likely to stand a chance for much longer.
Prohibitchin' is made possible by a sponsorship from Hopsbauer, a woman-owned hops brokerage company based in San Diego. Hopsbauer brings the best hops from around the world to craft breweries. Find out more by visiting Hopsbauer.com, and thanks to Liz Bauer for her generous support!