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Craft beer industry undergoing a #MeToo-style reckoning

Women sharing stories of misogyny in the workplace
Beer tap
Posted at 3:04 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 15:41:54-04

One woman's honest discussion about misogyny in the workplace has brought a #MeToo-style reckoning to the world of craft beer.

By sharing the stories from hundreds of mostly anonymous women from across the country, Brienne Allan has forced dozens of breweries to grapple with workplace culture in the industry.

Allan, a production manager at Notch Brewing in Salem, Massachusetts, said she took to social media earlier this month after she returned to work from the pandemic.

She told VinePair that just days after she returned to work building Notch's new brewery location in Boston, she had two men question her work credentials in a single day.

"The second time I leave the f****** house, I got two in one day," Allan told VinePair.

Allan took that frustration to Instagram, where she solicited stories from other women in the industry.

"What sexist comments have you experienced?" Allan posted to Instagram on May 11.

Since that day, Allan has received hundreds of messages from women worldwide about the harassment and misogyny they've faced while working in breweries.

"One person speaks up [and] more and more happen, it becomes a, 'We should probably start paying attention and taking people seriously' [moment]," Allan told Good Beer Hunting. "I feel like our society is conditioned to know that women get abused, and we're all just kind of OK with it because we're expecting it."

Amid the movement, Allan's Instagram account has attracted thousands of followers. According to VinePair, she had 2,200 followers on May 16; as of Friday afternoon, her follower count had surpassed 50,000.

On May 19, Good Beer Hunting reported that Allan had received more than 1,000 mostly anonymous submissions. She's still receiving dozens of messages a day, all of which she's saved on a 10-part Instagram story highlight.

Several top brewers have resigned as a result of the allegations.

Jacob McKean, the CEO and founder of Modern Times Beer — a large brewery with several locations in the Northwest — resigned on May 18.

"I'm sorry that anyone has ever had to face harassment at Modern Times. No one should ever have to be traumatized at work, and it guts me that people have under my watch," McKean said in a statement. "I take full responsibility for that. My heart aches for anyone who came to work for us—full of hope for the career they expected to have with us—only to have that experience marred by harassment."

The allegations have also made an impact internationally. Søren Wagner, the founder of Denmark-based Dry & Bitter Brewing, also resigned following accusations made to Allan.

Several other breweries have promised change.

Workers in the craft beer industry skew heavily male and heavily white. According to a 2019 survey by the Brewer's Association, a trade association representing small independent breweries, just 7.5% of brewers are women (though female employees make up 37% of "non-production, non-service" staff roles in breweries). According to that same survey, 88% of people who own breweries are white.

On Wednesday, the Brewer's Association released a statement saying that it "condemn(s) any act of assault, harassment, violence, bigotry, discrimination, or inequity." They encouraged member brewers to implement anonymous employee reporting tools, share HR resources with the association and review past seminars regarding harassment in the workplace.

The Brewer's Association has published steps on its website for employees to file formal complaints regarding violations of its code of conduct.