Syracuse breweries stand by women employees amidst #MeToo movement

Syracuse breweries support women employees

Women in the brewing industry came together to discuss workplace discrimination on social media, brewing companies in Syracuse listened.
Published: September 27, 2021
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From left to right, the women of Talking Cursive who helped brew the "Crispy Girls" beer, Xiomara Cordoba, Patty Brooks, Alexis Colton, and Jessica Scheirer.

Earlier this year, Brienne Allan of Notch Brewing’s new Brighton taproom in Boston, Massachusetts brought the #MeToo movement to the brewery industry when she took to Instagram with a post-reading: “A man is literally talking to me like a dog right now.” She received over a thousand responses from women all over the country sharing their experiences of sexual harassment, racism, and discrimination.

Following the outburst, many breweries went under investigation and various owners stepped down. The breweries in Syracuse worked to steer clear of the chaos. Talking Cursive Brewing Company, among others in Syracuse, worked to find creative ways to ensure the women in the industry feel empowered and important to the world of beer.

On July 29, Talking Cursive released a Bohemian Pilsner and called it “Crispy Girls.”  Community Coordinator, Alexis Colton went to management about the #MeToo movement and proposed the idea to continue the momentum of positivity and empowerment of women. Head Brewer and co-owner, Andrew Brooks wanted to take it even further: it would be a completely female-run brew.

“The #MeToo movement, it exists, and we’re aware of it, and we empathize with it…” said Colton, “but we’re working with what we can to keep it positive and just keep empowering women within the industry.”

A bartender at Buried Acorn Brewing pours a glass from a tap on September 10th, 2021.
A bartender at Buried Acorn Brewing pours a glass from a tap.

A top priority at Talking Cursive for Brooks is the passion for brewing.

“It’s not about if you’re a man or a woman, it’s about can you talk about the beer confidently?” said Brooks. “I want you to take your time with the customers and educate them and help and enable them to enjoy that experience and maybe learn some things along the way.”

Colton’s knowledge about beer has built up over seven years spent in the brewing industry, yet she still receives skepticism from her customers.

“I would say my biggest challenge sometimes is the ‘oh you really know your beer,’ just those small things that a lot of customers, especially males, seem to be very surprised by,” said Colton.

The event, therefore, functioned as a way for Colton and the rest of the women at Talking Cursive to channel their knowledge and energy into creating something that has now almost sold out. The pilsner ran out at the Talking Cursive tap and continues to sell at a rapid pace. The brewery will pour their “Crispy Girls” at the 2021 National Women’s Hall of Fame Induction in Geneva, N.Y. this October.

At Buried Acorn Brewing Company, General Manager Charlie Oberheide praised his brewery’s open-door policy and welcoming atmosphere that allows customers to walk in and out safely. In response to the #MeToo Movement, he didn’t believe much change was needed.

“It definitely made us step back and look at everything; but we never had any issues, thankfully,” said Oberheide. “It helped us look at how we could do things better and make an environment for everyone to feel comfortable in.”

Anything But Beer’s co-owner, Brittany Berry created an open-door policy for her customers as well as a digital policy for those wishing to remain anonymous. Berry also ensures her team completes the annual sexual harassment training.

Natalie Wiesnet Shelton (Left) and Jessica Jarett (Right) enjoy a drink and a meal at Anything But Beer on September 10th, 2021. (Photo by Ryan Griffith)
Natalie Wiesnet Shelton (Left) and Jessica Jarett (Right) enjoy a drink and a meal at Anything But Beer.

“The kitchen is actually very similar to a brewery in that it’s very rough; it’s mostly a male-run industry and there is kind of a lot of that sexual humor and just establishing that we are not that restaurant,” said Berry. “I make sure that we touch on that in the interview because some people might have an issue with it right off the bat, and I don’t even want to continue with that.”

Since Brienne Allan’s strike at Notch Brewing, they have since added a page called ‘#BraveNoise’ to their website which aims to honor those who have experienced workplace harassment of any form. It also works to bring awareness to issues regarding women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ individuals in the craft beer industry.

The page also links to a code of conduct that encourages the public to sign to receive their own recipe for a pale ale, a label, and social media graphics to submit online at a certain time to generate traffic to create awareness worldwide.

The #MeToo movement has exposed years of discrimination and sexism and continues to battle ever-present inequalities. For breweries in Syracuse, support for women within the workplace is merely the first step

Avatar for Jamey Bulloch

is a graduate student in the magazine, news, and digital news program, and contributor for The NewsHouse.