Last summer, amid social justice protests following the murder of George Floyd, the restaurant industry saw a second wave of #MeToo calculations driven by social media. For weeks, employees anonymously shared stories of harassment and racism using Instagram accounts dedicated to making abuse public. And now, almost a year later, the same arc is playing out again, this time with a focus on the craft brewery.
VinePair reports Last week, Brienne Allan, director of production at Notch Brewing in Salem, Massachusetts, invited women in the industry to share their stories about sexism after a day she was particularly frustrated by the sexist comments she received at work and sharing harassment through her Instagram account, @ratmagnet. Hundreds of accounts were received and Allan anonymized them and shared them on her Instagram stories. They contained sexist comments, such as those leading Allan to post, but there were also direct allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and descriptions of deeply toxic workplaces.
The allegations, now stored in Allan’s Instagram Stories and condensed into a public Google Doc, have caught on across the industry. In the week since its inception, major breweries have issued ologies and, in some cases, men named in complaints have left their positions.
Jacob McKean, founder and CEO of Modern Times Beer, which has offices across California and Portland, Oregon, resigned. in the an explanationHe commented on his role in a specific incident, announced that another employee named on a charge had been fired, and promised changes to modern harassment reporting procedures and a renewed commitment to on-site training and how to combat harassment. This happened after the staff of the Modern Times in Oakland announced on Instagram on Tuesday that they would be Stop work until management “acts in a way that reflects our personal values of inclusion and equality”. (The group has not yet responded to McKean’s announcement.) Other breweries around the country announced that they have closed those identified in the allegations.
Allan’s social media posts have also had an international impact. Inside Hook reports that on the basis of several allegations, Søren Wagner, the founder and chief brewer of the Dry & Bitter Brewing Company in Copenhagen, resigned.
The craft beer world is notoriously homogeneous: A. 2019 report The Brewers Association magazine found that only 7.5 percent of brewery workers with the title brewer were women and 88 percent of brewery owners were white. And the idea that it is difficult to be a woman who works in craft beer is well established. Pink Boots Society, a nonprofit of which Allan is affiliated, was founded precisely to support women in the industry a piece released today on Good Beer Hunting describes the constant threat women face at beer festivals and the hoops they jump through to safely navigate.
But the social media allegations that describe specific and harrowing incidents have made the vague knowledge of a problem real and difficult to ignore. And just like the #MeToo movement previously did for restaurants, the hope is that these captions will first remove abusive men from power and then start a broader dialogue about how craft brewing can be restructured so that it is for everyone that’s for sure.
Deepening change in the industry requires awareness and action beyond a single Instagram account. Allan encouraged those who experience misconduct report it to the Brewers Association, which has a formal complaint process for violations of their code of conduct that may result in reprimands or removal from membership. (However, we will only consider complaints about incidents that occurred after August 6, 2020, when the Code of Conduct and related conduct of members of the Brewers Association was demonstrated.)
And VinePair reports that other industry officials are taking over the cloak, suggesting that the public conversation is just beginning. Over the weekend, the UK-based activist group Burum Collective make a call for those in the beverage industry to meet. “Social media rewards outrage, but does not offer solutions for change,” reads the Instagram post, before not asking for more stories but a meeting to discuss “how we can unite and work together to ensure that these stories of. ” Sexual harassment and abusive work environments are not increasing any further. “