56 Brewing criticized for owner's apology after posts claim he waved noose at Black employee

The brewery is disputing some of the allegations that have been shared on social media.
Publish date:

Northeast Minneapolis' 56 Brewing is being criticized for how it has addressed an alleged racist incident that happened two years ago. 

Late Monday, the brewery's owner Kale Johnson posted an apology on Facebook, saying "in no way did I mean to hurt this person whom I consider a friend and I am heartbroken that I did."

In the initial post, Johnson did not comment on what had happened during the conversation two years ago, but a post began circulating on social media claiming a 56 Brewing employee waved a noose at a Black employee and said "come here boy."

Brewing Change Collaborative, a Minnesota collaborative that works to increase diversity in the Twin Cities craft beer scene, posted the above screengrab of the comment on Instagram on Monday. 

56 Brewing's Facebook apology post garnered more than 250 comments before 10 a.m. Tuesday, with many people expressing their disappointment at the apology, saying Johnson doesn't take responsibility for his actions and does not seem sincere. Many have said the brewery has lost their business, while others called for Johnson to step down.

56 Brewing denies there were racist intentions

Around 10 a.m. Monday, 56 Brewing posted on Facebook again, this time describing what had occurred, saying two years ago they all were hanging out after work and he was demonstrating sailor knots and he put a bowline knot on the table. 

"Let me be clear, there was no verbal discussion or talk of a noose or threat of hanging," the post says.

Johnson said an employee said seeing the knot caused them discomfort and he apologized immediately. 

"This allegation has surfaced two years later not from the employee, but third hand from a recently terminated person," the post notes.

BMTN has reached out to 56 Brewing for further comment. 

Others on Twitter criticized the national Brewers Association for talking about diversity and inclusion but doing nothing about it and noted the racism and discrimination that exists in the craft beer industry nationwide. 

The craft brewing industry is mostly white. That's according to a 2019 Brewers Association survey that found 76.2 percent of U.S. craft breweries' production staff (non-managers) is white and 89 percent of the country's craft brewers are white.

Next Up