The Craft Beer World Is Facing a “Me Too” Reckoning
Thousands of women in the craft beer world are sharing their experiences with sexism, harassment and assault
When brewer and production manager Brienne Allan of Notch Brewing in Salem, MA, put out a call on her personal Instagram account last week for women in the craft beer world to share stories of the sexism they’ve experienced in the industry, she had no idea that she’d receive not hundreds but thousands of messages chronicling everything from misogyny and sexual harassment and toxic workplace cultures to sexual assault.
Allan has spent the past week posting all of the stories and allegations to her Instagram Stories in an attempt to raise awareness of what’s clearly a systemic problem, and as a result, some prominent figures in the craft beer scene have come under fire.
Allan says the messages haven’t stopped coming in, and they’re all harrowing. “The one that hit me the most was one of the girls told me that a brewer offered to give her a ride home, and everyone vouched for him, saying that he was a good guy,” Allan told Vinepair recently. “Then he pulled off to the side of the road and tried to rape her and beat the shit out of her. She got away, and she said she’s never told anybody because he was harassing her, [threatening], ‘If you ever tell anyone, I’ll kill you.’”
The accusations run the gamut (you can read more about the specifics here and on Allan’s Instagram), but high-profile industry figures like Shaun Hill, founder and brewer of Hill Farmstead; Jean Broillet, co-founder of Tired Hands Brewing; and Jacob McKean, founder of Modern Times Beer, are among those being called out for their behavior. After multiple allegations were made against Søren Wagner, founder and head brewer of Copenhagen’s Dry & Bitter Brewing Company, the brewery announced on Twitter that Wagner will take a leave of absence.
But beyond that and a few vague commitments to change (Modern Times, for example, put out a statement vowing to “continue to critically examine our internal power structure, improve the way we listen to the voices of marginalized employees, and to remember that sometimes getting called out is the only way to recognize your blind spots”), what’s being done? How will we fix this? The general consensus — from Allan, from many of the women who messaged her, and from men in the craft beer world looking to be allies — is that nothing will change unless men start calling out their peers and speaking up on behalf of women.
“The next time something happens in a bar, or at a festival, will someone speak up?” Matthew Curtis, founder and editor-in-chief of beer publication Pellicle Magazine, told Vinepair. “I hope Brienne and other women in the industry keep piling this on until men like myself feel like they have no choice. We deserve everything we’re getting.”
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