Beers at West Coast Grocery Co.
Beers at West Coast Grocery Co. Elijah Hasan
West Coast Grocery, a brewpub that opened last year in the Buckman neighborhood, has been the subject of a social media firestorm in the wake of a sexual misconduct allegation from one of its former employees. [UPDATE: Beervana's Jeff Alworth briefly wrote about it on a Monday, January 7 blog post.] On Tuesday, January 8, Oregon beer blog Brewpublic posted about the situation, in which West Coast Grocery's head brewer, Owen Woods, made inappropriate comments to a bartender/server on December 30 as she was finishing her shift. That account also included West Coast's response and a statement from owner Charlie Hyde IV.

Soon after, New School Beer posted a more detailed investigation, including a full statement from the bartender/server, Sarah de Noyo. It includes her account of what Woods said—which is quite appalling—and her disappointment with Hyde's initial reaction to her complaint, which included suspending Woods for a week and having him take a sexual harassment class. After a social media backlash ensued, West Coast eventually decided to fire Woods altogether.

Both pieces are well worth reading, and include excellent reporting from New School's Ezra Johnson-Greenough (posting as "Samurai Artist") and Brewpublic's "D.J." The New School Beer piece in particular should be read by not just anyone with an interest in Portland beer, but any and all service industry workers, as it's a thorough examination on how bad behavior like Woods' impacts the victim not just in the moment, but in aftershocks that disrupt their entire lives—and the lives of everyone else who works and drinks at those places of business.

In last year's beer issue, we previewed West Coast before their grand opening. It was a long-germinating project for Hyde, and it was something of a coup that he landed Woods as his head brewer; Woods has worked at places like Deschutes Public House in the Pearl and even won a gold medal at Willamette Week's Oregon Beer Awards for his fresh-hop saison. His success in what is undoubtedly a male-dominated industry only compounded the power dynamic that led to his treatment of de Noyo.

For her part, de Noyo's foresight in posting her experiences to Instagram as well as her transparency and honesty in discussing the situation are wholly admirable. West Coast Grocery's future in the wake of a substantial backlash remains to be seen. In unrelated Portland beer news, looks like we're getting a new brewery called Great Sex. So yeah. We might still have a ways to go.

SH/FT: A Celebration of Fashion Design May 19th, 7pm.
Virtual Auction Event & Drag Queen Fashion Show. You won't want to miss this show!