In December of 2017, Washington Beer Blog was informed of an incident that occurred at Menace Brewing in Bellingham, Washington involving an employee from a neighboring brewery. According to our source, an employee of Melvin Brewing was at the Menace Brewing taproom when he inappropriately touched a female employee. We later learned that the alleged incident occurred on November 20, 2017.
Our source, who works in the beer industry in Bellingham and had reason to be familiar with the incident, reported that a Melvin Brewing employee was at the Menace Brewing taproom along with other Melvin Brewing employees when he grabbed the female server in a way that could not be reasonably condoned.
Recognizing that this was a serious accusation, one that could lead to legal actions, Washington Beer Blog decided not to report the alleged incident at that time. Instead, we decided to wait for the parties involved to contact us or otherwise make public comments.
On January 11, 2018 an internal email was sent to Melvin Brewing employees acknowledging that the incident had in fact occurred. That email also informed employees of the company’s position on such conduct and reported on how the company was addressing the issue. That email was leaked outside of the company and a source provided a copy to Washington Beer Blog on January 17.
In that email, Melvin Brewing described the incident as follows: “The employee of Menace Brewing stated that while addressing guests at [the Melvin Brewing employee’s] table, [the Melvin Brewing employee] put his hand around her waist, then moved his hand lower and touched her butt and upper thigh area.”
Subsequent conversations with other sources familiar with the incident suggested that the Melvin Brewing employee brought his own beer, Melvin Brewing’s beer, into the Menace Brewing taproom and was essentially sneaking drinks, which is not allowed. When confronted by his server about the situation, the Melvin Brewing employee allegedly reached for the woman and touched her as described above.
On March 8, 2018, more than three months after the initial event, Melvin Brewing issued a seemingly unrelated statement on its Facebook page regarding the contact page on its website that some people found offensive. Instead of a typical contact us page, the Melvin Brewing website featured a page that presented the act of contacting Melvin Brewing in a way that many people found offensive. In the statement on Facebook, the company announced that it had remedied the situation and apologized to anyone who was offended.
Below is a screenshot of the page in question, which has now been taken down. As we understand it, this page existed on the website long before the incident in Bellingham last November.
“…we made a poor decision on our website in regard to contacting Melvin Brewing. The Touch Us header was meant to be a silly joke but in hindsight it was inappropriate, and we want to extend a heartfelt apology. Please know that we may be irreverent and like to have a good time but in this case, we crossed the line…”
“…At Melvin Brewing we do not condone bro-culture or tolerate any sort of sexual harassment.
“Melvin Brewing strives to support women in all facets of our operations. Many of our employees at the breweries and in upper-management are women. We will continue to review our policies to ensure that our workplace, website and breweries are harassment-free.”
The statement created a firestorm of comments, most of which were not in support of Melvin Brewing, some of which were deleted by Melvin Brewing. Since it is now obvious that this is no longer a private matter and that the Bellingham beer community at large, as well as the public in general, are very well aware of the situation, Washington Beer Blog decided to share what we know.
Today, March 9, 2018, Melvin Brewing posted another statement on Facebook, this time acknowledging the original incident that occurred on November 20, 2017.
“First and foremost – thank you to everyone who has reached out to us and voiced their opinion; it has not fallen on deaf ears. Our company in no way supports sexual violence in any form and we deeply regret our poor judgement. The local staff here in Bellingham are taking the situation very seriously and hope we can work together to address the issues that our community faces.”
“To clear the air, in November one of our Wyoming based employees went to one of our neighboring establishments and acted inappropriately. This has been dealt with internally with our employees and an official apology was issued to the individual involved.”
“We at Melvin Brewing Bellingham would like to extend our sincerest apologies and thank you for your honesty and time. We look forward to the opportunity to work with our community to make a positive impact.”
If anything else develops with this story, Washington Beer Blog will continue to report what we know.