Beer Man

Wiley Roots Brewing Co-Owner Apologizes for Working Environment

Wiley Roots Brewing Co-Owner Apologizes for Working Environment
Wiley Roots Brewing Facebook page
Wiley Roots Brewing co-owner and head brewer Kyle Carbaugh apologized in a long message on the brewery's Facebook page on May 16 for being “difficult to work with” and for losing his temper “on more than one occasion” with Miranda, his wife and co-owner, as well as his parents and his staff. He also committed to attending counseling sessions in order to deal with stress and to ensuring “that the culture at Wiley Roots is one where everyone can feel at ease.”

His message was the direct result of an effort by Brienne Allan, the production manager at Notch Brewing in Salem, Massachusetts, to collect and publicize thousands of stories from women at breweries around the country, and even overseas, who have experienced everything from sexual assault and sexual harassment to sexism, racism, misogyny, belittlement and obnoxious behavior while on the job. A number of the stories are anonymous, but many are not, and quite a few of them call out specific people and breweries — some of them very well known — from Modern Times Beer in San Diego to Hill Farmstead in Vermont.

The overwhelming number of disturbing stories, which are posted on Allan's Instagram account, @ratmagnet, have caused a nationwide stir in the industry and prompted a wide range of actions and discussions among craft breweries. In her Instagram profile, Allan cautions that she can't vouch for the veracity of the stories.

The complaints regarding Wiley Roots, which is located at 625 3rd Street, Unit D, in Greeley, were provided anonymously, and primarily revolve around the treatment of women employees at the brewery.

(Editor's note: Late in May 17, Wiley Roots said it sent "substantial documentation" to @ratmagnet "demonstrating the allegations from former employees were inaccurate." As a result, the brewery says, "@ratmagnet has confirmed the posts have been taken down. We remain committed to taking steps to combat sexism in the industry." @ratmagnet has not yet responded to our request for comment; the original response from Wiley Roots remains on Facebook.)

In his letter, Carbaugh disputes some of the complaints, and says that while he knows he is "difficult to work with," his demeanor had "nothing to do with sexism."

"If anything," he adds, "I’m an equal opportunity hard ass." Nevertheless, he apologizes to anyone who feels that he created an "uncomfortable working environment" and says that he plans "to reflect on my past interactions and learn from my mistakes."

Here is Carbaugh's message in full:

Hey all - Kyle here.

On Friday evening, I became aware of allegations from former employees regarding situations and circumstances that were construed as sexist and misogynistic in nature. These allegations were posted as story posts made by the Instagram user @ratmagnet who is a brewer at Notch Brewing Company. Reading through some of the accounts detailed in the story posts were quite damning and disappointing while also highlighting that there is a lot of work to be done in the brewing industry to support and foster a culture of inclusivity and acceptance.

While I must abstain from discussing the details of any employment matters for legal reasons, there are two sides to each story. What I can say is that all employee terminations have been the result of documented violations of policy and/or the terms of employment.

I have never intended for anyone at Wiley Roots to feel belittled or lessened for their role at the brewery for any reason, including based upon an employee’s gender or sexual orientation, and I sincerely apologize for any role I unknowingly played in giving rise to any situations in which that was the case. I absolutely concede that I can be difficult to work for/with at times and have high expectations (maybe sometimes too high), but this has nothing to do with sexism. If anything, I’m an equal opportunity hard ass. That being said, I do realize that some changes are necessary and plan to reflect on my past interactions and learn from my mistakes.

My biggest regret and area for improvement for which I am personally committed to rectifying immediately is how I interact with my wife, business partner, and the love of my life Miranda Carbaugh. Beginning July 20th, 2013 (the day we opened the taproom), Miranda requested that I refer to her as my business partner while at work to support and foster a united ownership dynamic. I have done my best to honor this request and have tried to project to everyone who comes into the brewery that she is my equal. The last thing either of us ever wanted was for Miranda’s contributions to be minimized in any way because of our relationship outside of work. In trying to avoid her role being diminished in any way not enough has been said about her role and ownership of the brewery. That changes today. We are 50/50 equals in the management of the brewery. As an equal partner, Miranda has been involved in all major decisions at the brewery. This includes employee issues. Miranda and her counsel have been at the table for every discussion and decision that has taken place, including employee coaching, and the unfortunate, but rare decisions to separate from employment relationships.

Owning and managing a small business with your spouse and family is no easy task, and keeping personal/family matters from creating an uncomfortable working environment is an area in which I have undoubtedly failed from time to time. I absolutely have lost my temper and let my anger get the best of me on more than one occasion with Miranda, my parents, and staff regardless of gender within the confines of the brewery which is not acceptable. I have made the decision that I will begin attending counseling sessions and have reached out to some mental health professionals for help to better cope with these stresses that I have failed at coping with in the past. Miranda and I will also be reforming our workplace policies with guidance from the Brewers Association, our legal counsel, and our current staff. We want our brewery to be an open and welcoming place for not just our customers, but also our staff.

For my role in creating an uncomfortable working environment for any employee, I want to personally apologize to those individuals. I was wrong and I sincerely apologize that my actions have caused you pain. It’s unacceptable that anyone would come to work feeling persecuted for things that they cannot change, and I certainly have never intended to do so from the very beginning of Wiley Roots.

Wiley Roots has always tried to be inclusive in our business and we have actively sought out individuals for leadership roles that did not conform to standard practices. Wiley Roots is owned, managed, and operated by women, and we have been proud to hire men and women from diverse backgrounds. I am fully committed to ensuring that an environment of inclusivity and acceptance is embodied going forward, and will do my utmost best to ensure that the culture at Wiley Roots is one where everyone can feel at ease - and it starts with me.

I’m very far from perfect, but I’ll do my best to be better.

Much love,
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes