Beer’s lack of diversity and questionable labor practices have been somewhat documented over the last few years, but it feels like this week is the first time the public has glimpsed how dangerous craft beer culture can be when it comes to female discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Over the last week, a flood of discrimination and harassment conversations sparked a long overdue debate about the normal operating mode of the beer industry. It started with a production manager from Massachusetts-based Notch Brewing, Brienne Allan, who after a pair of sexist interactions at the brewery, asked Instagram followers “What sexist comments have you experienced?” Hundreds of accounts poured in, ranging from women-don’t-belong-in-the-brewhouse stories to experiences of rape and violence. You should read them here. The story gained our attention after Beth Demmon’s story “Sweeping Accusations of Sexism, Assault Rock the Craft Beer Industry” was featured on VinePair. From Allan’s Instagram page (@ratmagnet):
This is obviously gaining a lot of traction right now. I want to say these are NOT my accounts, they are being sent to me anonymously and I am sharing these brave stories. They are NOT ABOUT @notchbrewing. Also there is a side to every story and believe me, everyone has a right to tell theirs. Sexism and racism come from all different people not just white men. Careful what you are reposting when you direct people to this thread or post to other social media outlets. Please take your employees seriously before you come at me with threats brewery owners.
Since this started early last week, the craft beer industry has been forced to face some sort of a reckoning. Here is some of the fallout:
Copenhagen’s Dry & Bitter Brewing Co. publicly announced that Søren Wagner, founder and head brewer, will resign in light of the numerous allegations against him.
Jean Broillet, founder of Tired Hands Brewing Co., has stepped down at the request of his employees, according to an Instagram post from staff.
This message comes to you from the staff at Tired Hands Brewing Company.
By our request, Jean Broillet IV has stepped down from all daily operations immediately. Julie has not been working here since March, 2021.
We, the existing staff, will remain in place and continue operating as we search for new leadership to build a stronger culture here. The recent outpouring of stories about our industry have unified us in addressing our own experiences and we stand in solidarity with anyone that has ever experienced toxic workplace abuse, racism or sexism in the brewing industry, including our co-workers, past and present.
We thank Brienne @ratmagnet for her work. We as an industry and a community know that we can always do better. We will do better.
With love & humility,
The employees of THBC
Connecticut Valley Brewing fired Director of Sales Jeff Nelson, who has been accused of sending sexually suggestive photos to women. Read it here.
CEO Jacob McKean of San Diego-based Modern Times Beer has stepped down after harassment accusations surfaced about the company. At least one other employee has been fired.
Cicerone suspends an employee named in @ratmagnet stories. Here.
The Cicerone team is reading all of the stories being shared by @ratmagnet of harassment, abuse, and mistreatment suffered by our colleagues in the beer industry. While it is upsetting, difficult, and dispiriting, we encourage everyone who can see this message to hear, recognize, and consider each of these stories.
The Cicerone team is disgusted to hear the detailed account of indefensible behavior by one of our employees towards a member of our community. As of Monday, May 17th, the employee in question has been suspended pending an already ongoing and independent investigation into the employee’s behavior. Employees and impacted third-parties are invited to contact Kathryn Hartrick ([email protected]) to confidentially disclose information. The scope of the investigation is NOT limited to just this event, any one individual, or a defined period of time. Researching and addressing this incident is our immediate focus. We will take swift and decisive action(s) based on the Investigator’s findings and recommendations.
We realize many of you are disappointed in our program for allowing this to happen on our watch, and for not doing more to promote a safe environment for all in our industry. We feel and share your disappointment. Looking to the long-term, we will use what we learn to take corrective action internally, make amends with our community, and incorporate feedback. It is our hope and anticipation to set a much better example for everyone within our sphere of influence.
Massachusetts-based Lord Hobo issues statements after accusations.
Yesterday, The Brewers Association (BA) announced it was working with the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC), the Craft Beer HR Professionals Group (CBHR), the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA) and the Pink Boots Society (PBS) to form “a coalition to explore how our organizations can collaborate to provide the resources and support that businesses and individuals in the brewing industry need to create and maintain a culture of safety, inclusion, and equity.”
The Brewers Association noted it is also now working with WeVow, a non-profit aimed at helping those affected by sexual abuse and assault. As a benefit of BA membership, members now receive 50 percent off for the lifetime of their WeVow membership by using coupon code BA50. Here are some other initiatives the BA encouraged its members to pursue:
- Join WeVow.
- Implement an anonymous employee reporting tool such as Red Flag Reporting or Lighthouse Services.
- Review this CBC seminar from 2019: Ignorance Is NOT Bliss: Workplace Investigations Basics.
- Share your HR resources with us so we can compile and share with the community at large.
- If you are an HR professional with subject matter expertise on sexual harassment and assault and would like to speak at CBC or on a webinar, complete this form.
- Volunteer to use your knowledge and experience on a BA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) subcommittee by joining the waiting list here.
- Send your additional ideas to [email protected].
We, as a beer business publishing outlet, are also re-evaluating our coverage of discrimination, sexism and sexual violence in the beer industry. While we are mostly a technical publication, this is too important of a subject and movement not to help.
Until then, here is some required reading from other outlets.
Read Beth Demmon’s “Buzz, Kill — The Physical, Psychological, and Financial Price Women Pay for Working in Beer” over at Good Beer Hunting.
Read Beth Demmon’s “Sweeping Accusations of Sexism, Assault Rock the Craft Beer Industry” on VinePair.
Read Jessica Infante’s “Tidal Wave of Sexual Harassment Allegations and Toxicity in Craft Beer Industry Lead to Terminations” over on Brewbound.