USA, Denmark: Brewery owners step down on allegations of sexual harassment

The #MeToo movement has now reached the craft beer industry with people employed in the industry anonymously sharing stories of harassment and racism with Instagram accounts and making abuse public.

Last week Brienne Allan, production manager at Notch Brewing in Salem, Massachusetts, asked women to share stories about experiencing sexism in the beer industry at her @ratmagnet Instagram handle. Within only a few days she received thousands of messages that included accusations against some of the beer world’s most lauded brewers and breweries. The number of her followers has multiplied since and people from all over the world tune in and continue to share their own stories and experiences. Allan admits that she did not expect this amount of positive feed-back. “I don’t know how to really handle it right now,” she says.

It’s not only the amount of messages but it is also the content that leaves many people speechless. “What has really shaken me is the way that they [sexist men in the beer industry] have been shielded, in most cases, from any consequences for actions that range from inexcusably vulgar to worthy of prison time,” Vinepair quoted Ruvani de Silva, a freelance beer writer and diversity advocate.

After names and companies have been made public, major breweries have issued apologies and in some cases, men have left their positions.

On May 19, Jacob McKean, founder and CEO of Modern Times Beer, which has brewery/restaurant locations in Los Angeles & Portland and several taprooms and restaurants across California, announced his resignation and upcoming changes at his brewery. His company was mentioned before in nearly a dozen stories and described as a toxic workplace dominated by favoritism and harassment — and indifference from management.

One day earlier, Søren Parker Wagner announced his resignation as co-owner and head brewer of Dry & Bitter Brewing Company in Gørløse, Denmark. The resignation followed allegations on Allan’s Instagram account that he used his position to pressure women to accept his sexual overtures and that he made repeated, unwanted advances toward women.

A major cause of the problem lies in the fact that the craft beer industry is still dominated by white men. The Brewers Association published in 2019 a report that showed that only 7.5% of all American brewers were women and 88% of all craft brewery owners were white.

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