Brienne Allan, Igniter of Craft Beer’s Reckoning with Sexism, to Depart Notch Brewing

Brienne Allan, who sparked an industry-wide reckoning with sexual harassment by asking a single question on her personal Instagram account (@ratmagnet) in May, announced today she will step down from her role as production manager at Salem, Massachusetts-based Notch Brewing.

“It’s with a heavy and hopeful heart that this Thursday will be my last day at Notch Brewing,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “I’ve never felt more supported and shared such a similar goal with a company.”

Over the next few months, Allan will be traveling to support Brave Noise, the collaboration beer she helped create that aims to build a safer and more inclusive beer and hospitality industry. She told Brewbound she is pursuing training in the HR field and plans to stay in the beer business in that capacity.

In May, Allan was working at Notch’s new second location when construction workers there asked her condescending questions about her brewing career. It was one of her first days onsite after working remotely for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the juxtaposition between working with her coworkers while home and interacting with external contractors on the jobsite was jarring.

“I was just so mad,” she said during a panel discussion on the July episode of Brewbound Frontlines. “I went to build our new brewhouse at our new facility, and I got so many random comments from guys on the site and I had just totally forgotten how prevalent sexism is.”

Using Instagram Story’s question-asking function, she asked her followers “What sexist comments have you experienced?” and responses flooded in from beer and hospitality industry workers, mostly women, across the country. Their stories ranged from misogynistic microaggressions to sexual assault and rape, and Allan bore the brunt of the emotional labor to read and share them.

“It’s still pretty traumatic right now, just reliving basically all of these, not even just women, everyone’s trauma that has sent it to me,” she said during Brewbound Frontlines. “I feel like I’m reliving all of mine and then everyone that’s reading their traumas is reliving their trauma, so I feel like we’re all just in a state of mourning.”

Allan referred to the toll the reckoning has taken on her in her post announcing her resignation.

“It’s time for me to take some time for much-needed mental health recovery,” she wrote.

In the wake of the revelations, founders and leaders of several prominent craft breweries resigned, including Pennsylvania’s Tired Hands, California’s Modern Times, Massachusetts’ Lord Hobo and Wormtown, as well as smaller breweries and beer-related organizations, such as Illinois’ Pollyanna Brewing and Connecticut’s Connecticut Valley Brewing. Other breweries and organizations shared the results of external investigations that revealed employee mistreatment, including Minnesota’s Indeed Brewing and the Cicerone Certification Program.

In many situations shared on Allan’s Instagram and the @EmboldenActAdvance account that was created to share the burden of posting stories, breweries lacked clear codes of conduct for staff or guests. To combat that, breweries participating in Brave Noise must create and publish a code before brewing the beer. The collaboration’s website includes a guideline to create a code, provided by collaboration partner HRuprise.

To date, 69 breweries and 194 homebrewers have signed up to brew Brave Noise. Notch will release its second batch on September 10, Allan said.