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Allegations of sexual misconduct land Melvin Brewing in hot water

 

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.

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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 emplyee’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.

melvin-contact

“…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.

 



28 comments

  1. This was a co-founder of Melvin Brewing, not just an employee. I think this speaks to the culture at this brewery which is illustrated by this incident as well as inappropriate pages on their website. I will not be visiting Melvin any time soon.

  2. “Instead of a typical Contact Us button, the Melvin Brewing website apparently featured a Touch Us button and generally presented the act of contacting Melvin Brewing in a way that many people found offensive. ”

    Let’s be clear, for the record. The headline on the Touch Us page was: “Show Us On This Doll Where Melvin Brewing Touched You”.

    1. Thanks for clarifying that. I never saw it, so I could not comment any more directly than I did.

  3. Melvin just doesn’t fit in with Bellingham culture, and that’s saying something. It’s a total bro joint, loud, unpleasant, serving undrinkable beer. Not surprised that one of their founders acted this way. I hope Melvin leaves town.

  4. The person who perpetrated the assault was not a co founder and technically not even an employee (contracted). I was disturbed as well by what I heard around Bellingham (rumors were MUCH worse than touching her butt) so contacted the company. Not defending their actions, but why is ok to spread rumors and misinformation without actually knowing the facts? Shoot first and ask questions later I guess….

    1. The person that the company mentioned in the email I quoted in my story, the person who I referred to as [the Melvin Brewing employee], is listed on Melvin Brewing’s website as a co-founder.

      Because I do not know what “Co-Founder” or “Head Donkey” means in terms of his actual relationship with, or his role in, the company, I decided not to refer to him as anything other than an employee.

      1. I should point out that when pressed by another news outlet, the brewery now describes that person as a contract employee. According to a story published on March 14.

        The biography that I mentioned above, which described him as co-founder and head donkey, has now been removed from the website.

    2. Please don’t minimize someone’s experience by placing a value to qualify an assault. The reactions and implications vary widly and differ based on the victims experiences and what informs their world view. This incident is about consent and exposes issues within the beer culture. This is about why a man thought it would be ok to touch someone else, and the challenge here is to question whether or not Melvin’s philosophy has or does perpetrate a culture of “bro-ness” aka toxic masculinity.

  5. Hi there, I can share screenshots if you are interested. There is so much more to the story. Thanks for reporting this.

  6. So one employee drinks too much and gets handsy, so the entire company is deemed “bro culture” and shouldn’t be patronized? I don’t know the whole story, but based on what you reported, it seems like what’s happening is they’re brewing beer that is leaps and bounds better than everything else in town, but no one in Seattle wants beer to change, so you’re finding any way to impugn the whole company. “Allegations of sexual misconduct?” He grabbed her butt. Unacceptable and inappropriate, but dealt with at the time by the company, and why does everyone feel the right to get indignant ON BEHALF of someone else? Mind your business, focus on making beer that doesn’t taste like the recipe was formulated in 2002, and stop taking cheap shots at your rivals.

    1. People get indignant because it’s wrong and awful. The incident coupled with thier crappy “touch the doll thing” plus innumerable stories of shit attitude, service and other kinds of inappropriate things going on at the Bellingham location all add up to a problem. I love thier beer but think they’ve blown their chance at Bellingham with this whole mess. I won’t ever go in thier taproom again.

    2. And once again Bellingham-sters automatically assume the worst and blow something COMPLETELY out of proportion without, I might add, a single fact in their possession!!! .. AMEN to what you said Mr. Fink!!

      1. I’ve personally witnessed/heard inappropriate behaviour and comments from Melvin employees at a brewers night my place of work sponsored. This type of behavior is nothing new. I’ve worked in the industry for over ten years, and have never experienced this type of bullshit from a brewery, or their employees. I’m proud to say we’ll no longer be pouring Melvin.

        1. Wow, Sean Horst, if you said this then I am going to believe it! I was on the fence and going to give them a chance but NOPE! You’re an insider and I’m going to take your word for it. I am hoping that a lot more of these brewer’s AND distributors will be called out for their bro culture…it’s tiring.

  7. The culture at Melvin includes videos with graphic rape scenes on the large TV screens in the “family” side of the establishment. The company has also had complaints about this. They consider it their right, but it certainly is not “family friendly” or “woman friendly” for that matter.

    1. All movies currently played on the family-friendly dining room side of the restaurant are, in fact, family-friendly. They are mostly kids movies.

  8. Unfortunately, this story comes as no surprise to me.

    As a long-time beer industry employee, Melvin Brewing has long defined “bro culture” among the many breweries that I’ve hosted through the years. I don’t know the owners of Melvin, but I can assure you that every rep or employee of theirs I’ve met (about 4 or 5) have been immature 20-somethings exuding machismo and peacocking to each other about their beer drinking and sexual prowess. “Here come the frat boys” was how my co-workers and I usually greeted an event featuring Melvin.

    So, in response to Nickolas Fink’s: “So one employee drinks too much and gets handsy, so the entire company is deemed “bro culture” and shouldn’t be patronized?” It’s not one employee. And if the owners don’t actively perpetuate “bro culture” through their own actions, they sure do through the people they hire and the fact that they promote irresponsible behavior (aside from the incredibly demented “show us on the doll” thing, they share videos of people shot-gunning imperial IPAs — yeah, real cool bro).

    I’m hoping more WA beer bars and bottleshops follow No Anchor and TeKu Tavern’s lead, and pull their products. Bro culture and those who make light of sexual misconduct have no place in today’s beer industry.

  9. I’ve been to Melvin in Bellingham three times. Each time the service was excellent and the beer was stellar.

  10. Not condoning the one employees actions but it’s irrelevant where we works.
    First it was people trolling them in reviews about their pricing in Bellingham and now people exgerating about the conduct of an employee out on there own time.. seems like someone in the local community feels threatened … Let the consumers decide without taking cheap shots … but if Bellingham doesn’t want Melvin we will kindly have them up in B.C.

  11. Talk is cheap. Any employee at a company with some sort of moral compass would’ve been fired immediately after after opening a can of thejr own beer at a brewey’s tap room and sexually assaulting a waitress.

    Taking months to address the incident publicly, continually walking back your poor apologies, reporting people for leaving bad reviews, and having nothing change structurally at Melvin shows this is just an attempt to save face, not a sincere apology.

    It’s really simple, either that co-founder leaves the company one way or another or they choose to say we just don’t take sexual assault that seriously. Everything Melvin has done handling this incident suggests the latter.

  12. I try to be careful condemning an entire company for one employees actions, and I was really on the fence about this at first. But there are some big problems with how this went down.

    Sexual assault (which this was) is absolutely unacceptable in any context. However, the context in this situation makes it even worse. Not only was this employee at a another brewery (right across the street) but he was there representing Melvin, with other Melvin employees. And if he was a co-founder then they were his subordinates, and he was dictating acceptable company behavior.

    Just the act of bringing their own beer is disrespectful, and is an inappropriate example set to the rest of the staff, but then he goes and sexually assaults a fellow beer industry employee in front of his staff. This is so, so incredibly wrong.

    At this point, Melvin could’ve saved themselves. Fire the person immediately (regardless of their history with the company), publicly apologize to the Menace employee, Bellingham, the beer industry and women in general, and outline steps the company will take to make sure this never happens again.

    If they did that I think I could see myself giving them another shot.

    Melvin did not do this. They didn’t fire the employee, made a canned response months later, and doesn’t seem to be doing anything different.

    We have so many amazing breweries in this community, and if Melvin doesn’t care about Bellinghamsters, we won’t care about you.

    Their beer isn’t anything special anyway, and their food is garbage. Count me as one less patron. I won’t be going back there.

    1. Good points. Since posting this story I have heard a lot of opinions from a lot of people. Some on the record and some off. Perhaps the worst news for Melvin is that people (consumers and beer industry peeps) seem to think that there is no real contrition here. That they are saying what they are supposed to say, as if directed by legal counsel, but behind the brewery doors they’re actually thinking this is all a bunch of nonsense. I have no idea if there is any merit to that assertion, but it is definitely what many people are thinking.

  13. I live in Pinedale, WY, south of Jackson Hole, east of Alpine. Folks I know do not care about this story – WY is a Bud Light state. Most people in WY have no clue what Melvin is – seriously. That being said, the Bud Light drinkers in the state still think Bud is an American company. I have heard that most of Melvin’s beer is sold to and in Colorado. Not a story in the state of WY.

  14. The Melvin boys Tofte and McHale were out tonight in the Hole. Calling out the State Of WY—-“What a bunch of ….tards giving us $.

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