Original Pattern fires assistant brewer as accusations of misogyny rock Bay Area breweries



It all started with a simple Instagram survey. On May 11, Massachusetts Brewery Brienne Allen (who uses Instagram handle @ratmagnet) offered a question to her followers in the brewing industry: “What sexist comments have you experienced?”

Without knowing it, she had opened the floodgates to hundreds of stories. Messages started pouring in, with people telling everything from sexist comments to heartbreaking tales of sexual harassment, racism and sexual assault. Allen shared all comments anonymously on his Instagram story, with some even naming particular breweries and employee names. Allen received more than 800 responses on Tuesday, Good Beer Hunting reported.

A few Bay Area breweries have come forward in the outpouring of allegations, as has Beer Baron, a beer and whiskey bar and restaurant with locations in Livermore, Pleasanton, Oakland and Santa Rosa. Eight different anonymous allegations posted on Allen’s Instagram story involved Beer Baron beer manager Corey Bryce Whelchel, covering everything from misogyny to inappropriate remarks.

Beer Baron posted a statement on his Instagram page on Monday, which has since been deleted (an updated statement was released on Wednesday).

“We are disheartened and disgusted by this,” read part of the original statement. “Many names have been shared, one of them being our third party beer purchaser, Corey Bryce Whelchel. Although we are not responsible for his actions, we know that we are held accountable by the association. Therefore, we have severed and will sever all ties with Corey while he deals with the current situation.

In an emailed statement to SFGATE, Beer Baron further clarified the action taken following the allegations.

“We posted the statement on Instagram on behalf of those in the beer industry who have been subjected to mistreatment. [sic] and harassment. We were disgusted to hear the allegations across the industry, ”said Harpreet Singh, owner of Beer Baron.

“… After learning that our contract beer buyer was one of those named in the allegations, we quickly terminated our contract with him.” Business relationships with third parties are subject to the same rules that we follow and promote with our staff, so it was an easy decision. We stand behind the victims of the industry and hope that those suspected and convicted will be held accountable. The safety of our staff is paramount and so far no staff member has reported harassment of any kind. We encourage people to provide as much information as possible. “

A current Beer Baron employee, who was granted anonymity under Hearst Bay Area anonymous source policy, says she has had no experience like the allegations shared on Allen’s Instagram stories, but that she believed them.

“He was our beer coach with no quotes, and we were told to call him coach… He did all the counts for our beer, he ran our beer program, which doesn’t seem like a very third party to me,” he said. declared the employee. “He was constantly coming and acting like he owned the place. He would be really loud about that, go behind the bar, expect us to pour him beer, you know, [and] tell me how to do it like I haven’t been a bartender since [over a decade]. And then he would have access to our walk-in closet, and that doesn’t seem like a third party to me. I’ve been doing this for a very long time, and all the reps coming in, the beer people coming in, they’re asking permission, you know, they’re not just openly walking the back of our area.

In a 2019 interview on the Full Pint podcast, Whelchel is featured as Director of Beer for Beer Baron and a full-time salaried buyer.

“Fortunately, I wasn’t as harassed as a lot of the women who came out on the Instagram page … but the little interaction I had with him was not pleasant,” she said. declared. “He was sneaking up by the bar and touching my lower back to get behind me, and the bar is huge, like you don’t have to get that close to me … and be really misogynistic.” with the way he spoke. to the women of our restaurant. I know my very close colleague resigned and returned several times due to interactions with him. “

Whelchel did not respond to a request for comment from SFGATE. Instead, he posted a statement on his Instagram, @beercoach, addressing the allegations.

“I have been named as one of the people who exhibited unacceptable behavior, and I would like to acknowledge this and apologize for my behavior and the harm I have caused”, reads in the article. “I respect and admire the women in craft beer and my actions are contrary to how I think women should be treated. Women deserve to feel safe in the workplace and treated with respect.

“I will take this time to reflect on my mistakes and come up with action items to not only correct my own mistakes, but also to better support women in beer so that we can work towards positive and measurable change.”

Beer Baron wasn’t the only Bay Area bar or brewery mentioned on Allen’s Instagram stories. Original Pattern Brewing announced on Wednesday afternoon that it had fired its assistant brewer after investigating allegations against them. (Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 6:50 p.m. on May 19 to include information about the Original Pattern firing, which happened after this article was published.)

“After completing our investigation of the allegations which first came to light via @ratmagnet, we have terminated the Assistant Brewer in question,” Original Pattern said in its statement posted online. “It is clear that we still have work to do, as these allegations did not surface to us until the anonymous advice we received a few days ago. We place the same weight on additional policies, training and procedures as we do. must be put in place to ensure we create an environment of open communication where the safety of women in particular and everyone is the priority. We will involve our entire team in the process of developing and implementing these practices and post them on our website. website for employees, future employees and our community to see us and hold us accountable. “

Modern Times, a San Diego-based brewery with an Oakland taproom, has faced dozens of allegations of harassment and promoting a hostile work environment for people of color. Modern Times has since addressed them in a blog post:

“At a public forum on Friday, stories involving members of the modern day team were shared as part of a larger assessment needed and valuable for the craft beer industry regarding misogyny and harassment, especially against women and members of our industry, ”read the article, in part, from President / COO Chris Sarette. “Some of these stories were not new to us, were already investigated and resulted in layoffs or significant corrective action at the time. Others have prompted the opening of new investigations which begin today. “

Modern Times founder and CEO Jacob McKean announced his resignation on Tuesday and Derek Freese, an employee who is the subject of various allegations, was fired, as Brewbound reported.

“I am resigning as CEO and we will begin a formal search for new business leaders,” McKean wrote in part in the announcement of his resignation. “In order to get out of this extremely difficult time, we need leadership with the skills and experience to manage it effectively. It’s time for a change. “

An Instagram account opened by employees of the Oakland Modern Times site (confirmed by SFGATE) released a statement on Tuesday.

“The staff at Oakland-based Modern Times Beer have watched with disappointment and embarrassment the stories of sexual harassment within our business and industry published by Brienne Allan,” the article reads in part. “… We will not pour beer in Oakland until we feel that the leadership of the company is acting in a way that aligns with our personal values ​​of inclusion and equality, and that appropriate actions and measures are put in place to prevent further discrimination and harassment. ”

A staff statement is displayed in the window of Modern Times Oakland site on May 19, 2021.

Andrew Chamings / SFGATE

The statement was taped Wednesday at the window of Modern Times Oakland site (which was closed during business hours) and is still available at 1 p.m.

Additionally, staff at Modern Times Oakland told SFGATE they had a formal meeting with the management team on Thursday to discuss their demands and goals for the company.

In the wake of this take on the beer industry, various Bay Area breweries have taken to social media, from San Francisco’s Laughing Monk Brewing to Monterey and Carmel-by’s Alvarado Street Brewery. -the-Sea. The Good Hop, a beer bar and bottle store in Oakland, has announced that it will no longer carry beers from the breweries named in the allegations.

Melissa Myers, the owner of Good Hop who started working as a professional brewer in 1996, keeps a close eye on the @ratmagnet account.

“Sexism is rampant around our world, not just in the beer industry,” Myers told SFGATE. “… To be honest, it’s not surprising – it’s heartbreaking to see the amount of it.” But it’s no surprise that it’s finally revealed. “

“I think in my conversations with a lot of women, you know, we said, well, that comment was less blatant than most of them, so I’m just going to drop my back,” she said. added. “Because you’re just like, I’m just trying to be a part of this industry that I love. So good, cool, you made that comment, whatever. I don’t know if we can correct all of these comments. These stem from a deeper problem as human beings. It’s not just a part of the beer industry.

She says the decision to remove beers from breweries repeatedly cited in allegations from her shelves (including modern times) was an easy one.

“We’ve always done this,” Myers said. “… It’s never been a fanfare … it’s just our MO But usually when it happens that a brewery has bad practices, I just stop ordering from them.”

In another Instagram post, The Good Hop offered a few suggestions for reducing toxicity in the industry, including “hire more women in leadership roles,” “involve women in the hiring process” and “immediately introduce a zero tolerance policy and dismiss offenders. “

“We need this industry to be the best it can be,” wrote The Good Hop. “Why else is one of us here?” We would also like to note that there are over 8,000 craft breweries in this country, and the majority of them have never been mentioned in these stories. But there is still work to be done. “


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