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Brewer Brienne Allan Gives a Platform to Victims of Abuse in the Craft Beer Industry

Brienne Allan wears Pink Boots in Solidarity with victims
Brienne Allan wears Pink Boots in solidarity with victims. Photo credit: @ratmagnet

Trigger Warning: the following content contains unsavory allegations of sexism, racism and sexual harassment / abuse. I chose to highlight the less heinous accusations, but I strongly urge you to visit @ratmagnet on Instagram and read every allegation brought forth. Also, let it be known that I have not taken any steps to verify these claims. I am merely sharing this story as it has been presented to the public.

Over the past week, Instagram users came forward anonymously after brewer Brienne Allan, aka @ratmagnet, dealt with sexism in her own workplace. After having to validate her position in the brewery while assembling the new brewhouse at Notch Brewing, two men (who I assume do not work at Notch) questioned Brienne’s credentials. Frustrated, the Production Manager and former Pink Boots Society Boston Chapter Leader took to Instagram asking the question that ignited the movement: “What sexist comments have you experienced?” The stories that began to pour in are incredibly difficult to read, but I suggest you read them all. Every single one.

Many highly decorated breweries like Tired Hands, Modern Times and Hill Farmstead were repeatedly mentioned for heinous behavior, including but not limited to, sexism, intimidation, blatant racism and protecting predators within their company. Although it is not nearly as brutal as some of the aforementioned accusations, one claim mentioned Jean Broillet, co-founder of Tired Hands Brewing, mocking a group of deaf patrons, who were there for a seminar, as he played fart noises over the speaker while the seminar took place.

Screen shots sexually exploiting women interested in applying for a job; courtesy of @ratmagnet

“I once had a photo posted on the official Facebook page of me holding a beer and there were quite a few ‘have her hold it topless’ – When I brought it up with HR and social media, I was told I should stand up for myself and fight back, not to be protected from this by my employer. They were both women, too!” (sighting Brewdog)

“I was once turned down for the job because ‘Women are lazy.’” (sighting Boulevard Brewing)

“I got skipped for a promotion for a dude that started the same day as me and had NEVER run the filler. After the promotion, he was in charge of training people on a machine he had never run. Great.” (sighting Oskar Blues)

Screen shot, courtesy of @ratmagnet

“A few months back during the BLM protests, Jacob McKean [founder, CEO, Modern Times] shot down a black employee on his experiences and ideas on how to make MT [Modern Times] a more inclusive environment. The employee had already put in his two weeks and was escorted off the property that day.” Several screenshots of that original message confirmed this taking place, saying, “I was there for this.”

Another allegation: Parish Brewing made “comments about Latinos, including some of the staff and regulars at the brewery. Comments about how they were dressed, how the spoke, (accents and because occaisionally Spanish was used in conversation.”

We have acknowledged the problem. Now, what is the solution? My friends @thebrewersdaughters said it best: “We also (personally) don’t need to hear anymore men say they “stand with us.” What are you doing to fix your own behavior: gaslighting, microagressions and harassment? Are you calling out other men for their behavior? Stop talking and do something.”

Without being coached to make a statement, Ryan Galiotto (founder of FBH) took initiative to create a safe space on our site, meant for the Fueled by Hops network, to report any type of misconduct that occurs in our online groups or at a FBH event. We hope that we never have to use it, but I feel supported knowing that it’s there. I thank you, Ryan, for keeping our community safe. (Read our most recent Instagram post) We will keep you posted as to when it goes live.

I will say, we are quite fortunate here in Pittsburgh that nothing has been brought to light, at least, not yet. However, don’t think for a second that it couldn’t and wouldn’t happen here. I urge you, if you see something, say something. Do not stand by idly watching a female or PoC be humiliated and then go to acknowledge it after the fact. Your silence is compliance. Hold your people accountable. Don’t support the brands mentioned in these allegations. Support your friends and community. And most of all, BELIEVE WOMEN.

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I’ll speak for myself in saying, I am pleased that this mistreatment has come to light. I feel validated in my own experiences, but how long will this movement last? Not long, unless EVERYONE in the craft beer community makes the change we so desperately need.

Click here to report incidents that occurred in the brewing industry. Click here for resources for sexual assault. Click here to report an antisemitic, bias or discriminatory incidents.

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