56 Brewing apologizes for noose incident

Though 56 Brewing's owner says he didn't make a noose or taunt an employee, he is sorry nonetheless.

Though 56 Brewing's owner says he didn't make a noose or taunt an employee, he is sorry nonetheless. 56 Brewing Facebook

Followers of 56 Brewing woke up this morning to an apology from the northeast Minneapolis beer hall's Facebook account.

For background on just what owner Kale Johnson was apologizing for, they'd need to look elsewhere.

On Monday night, the Instagram account for Brewing Change Collaborative (a new local group whose members include Ramsey Louder, late of One Fermentary and Taproom, among others) highlighted a recent accusation made about the owner at 56 Brewing.

It's a shocking one.

View this post on Instagram

I've been trying to track down the individuals involved in this for two days. Not to "make sure it's true", I'm SURE it's true. But because this person, this employee(!!!), is somewhere likely fuming with anger and hurt. . Being a group comprised of people of Color in the industry, we know this feeling. We know microaggressions, bias, discrimination, slurs, and outright, blatant racism. THIS is all of that as well as a hate crime. @fbi . We also know what is like to seethe and anguish alone, and how infinitely better it is to have a community to back you up and fight alongside. . I'm angry. I'm raging for this person. I don't know you, but I will fight for you. WE ALL WILL. Reach out. WE'RE HERE FOR YOU. TO FIGHT. TOGETHER. . DO NOT BE CAUGHT ON THE WRONG SIDE OF CHANGE. DO NOT EMAIL ME ASKING TO ALIGN WITH US WHEN YOU HAVE RANK, PUTRID, FOUL SHIT IN YOUR OWN DAMN HOUSE!!! FIX YOUR F'N HOUSE!! YOU DON'T NEED US TO TELL YOU THAT! . . #WEAREBREWINGCHANGE #BCC #brewingchange #BrewingChangeCollaborative #BrewingChangeMN #BCCmembers #BCCdirectors #fortheculture #supportyourcommunity #MNNonprofit #nonprofit #removebarriers #expandreach #acheivegreatness #Represent #RepresentationMatters #weouthere #DiversityinCraft #beingblackincraft

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The person identified there as "Cale" is Kale Johnson, president and master brewer at 56 Brewing, which launched in 2015, and relocated to its current Marshall Terrace location in 2017. 

(Full disclosure: 56 Brewing brewed Press Check Sour IPA, a limited-run offering, in honor of City Pages' 40th anniversary.) 

It's Johnson whose name is attached to the Facebook apology, saying he is "truly disheartened by this situation," "heartbroken," and calling the Black former employee a "friend." 

Johnson continued: "What transpired in this conversation two years ago is unfathomable to me. I plan to better understand how my actions led to this and will do everytihng [sic] to fix it."

The post concludes by calling the incident's public exposure "a wake up call and one that we will not ignore," alluding to plans to "increase diversity" and take steps to better "understand racial issues and how to ensure a welcoming culture and environment."

As noted in a screenshot reply, an earlier version of Johnson's since-edited note indicated he had "read [the former employee's] resignation from 2 years ago for the first time" on Sunday. 

Just now, 56 posted yet again, this time in an attempt to explain the circumstances behind the incident itself, which they contend is being exaggerated. Here's how the more recent statement reads:

"Two years ago we were all hanging out after work and at some point I was demonstrating how to do sailor knots (sailing is a hobby of mine). I put a bowline knot (not a noose) from a sweatshirt on the table. Let me be clear, there was no verbal discussion or talk of a noose or threat of hanging. The employee said that it caused them discomfort to see the knot. I apologized immediately and said it was my fault for not realizing how it could affect others. That is white privileged behavior that caused a good friend and colleague stress, and that is what disheartens me. That is what my apology is for. This allegation has surfaced 2 years later not from the employee, but third hand from a recently terminated person. For comments and knowing the backstory is beneficial. These and all employees are loved by all of us at 56 and always will be."