As more stories of workplace harassment and toxicity come to light in the craft beer industry, more companies have responded this week either terminating employees, announcing investigations, issuing apologies or statements of support for the victims.
Brienne Allan has been sharing stories from the beer and restaurant industries of workplace harassment, assaults and toxicity on her Instagram account, @ratmagnet, now for the last 10 days, amounting to about 1,000 stories.
This week, Allan asked industry employees to share stories of incidents that have been reported to employers and were not handled satisfactorily, or to share stories of incidents that were reported and resolved, because “it’s important to share examples of proper management protocols,” she wrote.
“If you have an experience that has not been handled yet due to it not being reported, I encourage you to report it today instead of sending it to me,” she wrote. “Trust me, they’re watching and I truly believe everyone is going to make an immediate effort at this point.”
Chris Lohring, owner of Notch Brewing, where Allan is the production manager, issued a statement yesterday in support of her advocacy efforts.
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The Brewers Association (BA), the not-for-profit trade organization representing the nation’s small and independent breweries, has received three complaints this week about behavior that violates its code of conduct enacted for members last summer. Earlier this week, the BA shared its plan to provide resources for member breweries to combat sexual harassment in the industry.
Yesterday, Allan focused on Philadelphia with several stories mentioning incidents at Evil Genius Beer Company.The company has not responded publicly and also did not offer a comment when reached by Brewbound.
Evil Genius founder Trevor Hayward resigned from his position as treasurer of Philly Loves Beer, the non-profit organization that hosts Philly Beer Week and supports the city’s breweries, a spokesperson for the organization confirmed.
Philly Loves Beer announced it will create a code of conduct and institute anti-harassment policies with “clear reporting mechanisms” ahead of Philly Beer Week, slated to take place June 4-13.
“We are ready and willing to do whatever is necessary to stop this unethical and illegal behavior,” executive director Christina Dowd said in a statement.
Beyond Philadelphia, here is a non-exhaustive roundup of reactions over the last few days from across the country:
Days after Modern Times founder Jacob McKean stepped down as CEO, the company’s workforce is still grappling with the revelation of its toxic internal culture. An Instagram account started by the company’s beer and coffee production staff announced that it paused work yesterday.
“Too much has happened in the past week to expect everyone to just continue on as if everything is fine,” they wrote. “We used that downtime to connect with each other, to listen, and most importantly to start developing a plan for those of us in production to combat the toxicity in our society, in our industry, and especially in our company.”
The Cicerone Certification Program announced an investigation into the behavior of an unnamed, implicated employee, who has been suspended.
A statement from the Cicerone Certification Program: pic.twitter.com/uiD8FXVnOJ
— Cicerone® Certification Program (@cicerone) May 18, 2021
Woburn, Massachusetts-based Lord Hobo Brewing Company president Nathan Whipple announced on the brewery’s Instagram account that it is investigating claims made about sexual harassment. Whipple asked anyone who expeirenced harassment or discrimination at Lord Hobo to email the company.
“Tell us your story so we can take action and stop this behavior,” he wrote. “We are currently investigating the allegations this movement has brought to light, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that everyone is safe and welcome within our Lord Hobo community.
In California, Oakland-based Original Pattern Brewing Company terminated an unnamed assistant brewer who was accused of inappropriate behavior.
“Clearly we have more work to do as these allegations did not surface to us prior to the anonymous tip we received a few days ago,” the company wrote. “We are placing equal weight on the additional policies, trainings and procedures that we need to put in place to ensure we create an environment of open communication where safety for women in particular and everyone is the priority.”
Santa Cruz-based Humble Sea Brewing issued a statement after it was accused of mishandling the termination of an abusive employee.
“We were named among hundreds of other breweries across the industry for being part of the problem,” the company wrote on Instagram. “In our view, we are all part of the problem until it is solved across the industry. Over the years, we’ve recognized our responsibility for improving our own working environment and changing this industry. We also recognize that we have more work to do.”
In addition to internal employee support groups and feedback systems, Humble Sea said it will update the code of conduct in its employee handbook to match that of the Brewers Association.
In Denmark, Dry & Bitter Brewing Company founder Soren Parker Wagner resigned after several women accused him of years of predatory sexual behavior, as reported in Good Beer Hunting.
In order to keep our community updated on developments regarding founder Søren Wagner, we are now sharing his letter of resignation, which we received earlier today. pic.twitter.com/EpkOTkHP2E
— Dry & Bitter (@Dry_and_Bitter) May 18, 2021
Other breweries have issued apologies for past hostility or discrimination in their workplaces after being named on Instagram.
Night Shift Brewing issued an apology:
(1/5) Night Shift Brewing proudly stands in solidarity with our friends in the craft beer community against discriminatory behaviors and actions.
We were founded upon the guiding principle of All Styles Welcome. This reaches far beyond our eclectic lineup of beers. pic.twitter.com/VY1Gn4sonV
— Night Shift Brewing (@NightShiftBeer) May 19, 2021
Jess and Doug Reiser, co-founders of Burial Beer Company, posted a pair of statement’s to the company’s website.
“There was a time in Burial’s history many years ago where I was overwhelmed by the growth of the business and, as a mother of two small kids, I was disconnected and lacked awareness,” Jess Reiser wrote. “I was not the leader I wanted to be nor was I the leader that I am today. Our culture suffered during this period and I recognize that harm was done. I want to apologize to those who were impacted by my lack of leadership.”
Burial navigated a sexual harassment claim last year that resulted in the termination of the offending employee. The brewery now offers an employee assistance network to provide mental health resources, monthly manager trainings to discuss topics such as sexual harassment, stress manamgent and communication, and hosts sexual harassment trainings facilitated by Our Voice, an organization that seeks to end sexual violence and human trafficking.
“While we made significant progress over these most recent years, we recognize that our growth related to employee support and education surrounding workplace harm is very much an active, lifetime journey and we are wholly committed to it,” Jess Reiser wrote.
Burlington, Vermont-based Foam Brewers acknowledged the company had been named in an account, which has since been removed from Allan’s Instagram stories.
Greeley, Colorado-based Wiley Roots Brewing co-founder Kyle Carbaugh issued a lengthy statement on Instagram on May 17 after several now-deleted stories mentioned the brewery.
“For my role in creating an uncomfortable working environment for any employee, I want to personally apologize to those individuals,” he wrote. “I was wrong and I sincerely apologize that my actions have caused you pain. It’s unacceptable that anyone would come to work feeling persecuted for things that they cannot change, and I certainly have never intended to do so from the very beginning of Wiley Roots.”
The next day, Wiley Roots shared a follow-up post confirming that Allan removed the posts, adding that the brewery remains “committed to taking steps to combat sexism in the industry.”
In Illinois, Pollyanna Brewing Company announced in social media posts on that president and CEO Paul Ciciora resigned from the company in March and Ryan Weidner succeeded him. Although Pollyanna seems to not have been mentioned in any stories Allan shared, the company stressed that it strives to encourage staff, customers and partners “to make craft beer a more respectful and positive place to be.”
“We continue to offer annual harassment training, an ethics program, and have zero tolerance for doing the wrong thing,” Pollyanna’s leadership team wrote. “We continue to listen to our employees, empower them, and act on issues that may arise.”
Some breweries and organizations have announced proactive steps to prevent harassment and support employees. Acworth, Georgia-based Red Top Brewhouse has posted code words in its women’s, men’s and gender-neutral restrooms that guests can use to alert staff that they feel unsafe.
Maine Brewers Guild executive director Sean Sullivan emailed members to remind them of the organization’s code of conduct “to ensure a business and professional environment free from harassment of any type.”
“We’re sending this email out because being inclusive, welcoming new entrants to our profession, new customers to our tasting rooms, and creating an environment that is fun and free of harassment is how we will sustain and continue to grow our industry,” Sullivan wrote.
Last year, the guild voted to add a membership removal provision to its bylaws.
Other organizations and individuals are hosting gatherings for industry women to share their experiences and discuss next steps.
In San Diego, where many breweries mentioned in Allan’s stories are located, a group of women are hosting a forum to discuss ideas and develop action items to bring to the San Diego Brewers Guild at 11 a.m. PST on Saturday, May 22, at Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station taproom.
In Denver, Not Your Hobby Marketing Solutions and Lady Justice Brewing Company will host an organizing event on Monday, May 24. The event is slated to begin at 5 p.m. MT with an hour for women and non-binary people to gather and process the events of the past two weeks together with the guidance of a trauma therapist. An organizing meeting will follow.
Heads up Denver and surrounding areas, we're activating! If you are female identifying and want to discuss sexual harassment and/or assault in the beer industry, this event is for you. Please join us at @ladyjusticebrewing on Mon, May 24th #TimesUp https://t.co/9epho40yiC
— Not Your Hobby Marketing Solutions (@NotYourHobbyMS) May 20, 2021
In Philadelphia, Love City Brewing Company will host a gathering for women at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 27.
We need to do something. READ TO THE END. The stories of harassment, abuse, and toxicity that Brienne collected over the course of a week have been incredibly disturbing. We know the craft beer industry is not exempt from the forces that influence our world…(1/)
— Love City Brewing Co (@lovecitybrewing) May 19, 2021