Organizers of the nation’s first Black arts-and-beer festival have accused a major Pittsburgh brewery of racism, prompting an investigation into the allegations and the suspension of the eatery’s general manager.
In a post on the event’s Facebook page, Barrel and Flow Fest alleged the general manager of Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh, a brewery and restaurant, shouted racial slurs in a “fit of rage” during the Sept. 11 festival and apologized to everyone who may have been affected. Organizers called for a boycott of the brewery until its general manager—who has since been suspended pending an investigation—has been fired.
“They... chose to harass us throughout the planning & execution of the fest. [The general manager] made several complaints regarding the music, despite us having a permit and giving ample notice. At some point he came out and exploded in a fit of rage, dropping racial slurs at artists...staff,” Barrel and Flow posted. “He later called the police, who were too busy to staff the event but had time to make an appearance for this frivolous complaint. It should also be noted that we had severe, unexplainable power issues with that stage throughout the day, and the breaker coincidentally resides in HBH.”
“We are asking that folks refrain from supporting this establishment until disciplinary action is taken against this employee,” the post continued. “Any help contacting someone of power within the organization to discuss this incident would be greatly appreciated.”
Festival attendees allege the Hofbräuhaus manager yelled racial slurs at artists performing and that people of color were unable to use the brewery’s restrooms or purchase beverages.
“During the festival, we had technical issues that caused power failures to the stage and subsequently the equipment,” festival organizers said. “We were also prematurely cut short due to racism and breaches of contract. As a result, many artists from the stage were either unable to play, or had their sets cut short.”
In response, Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh released a statement on their Facebook page last week, vowing to investigate the racism allegations.
“We celebrate all facets of diversity, equity and inclusion for our customers, staff, overall operations, our SouthSide Works neighbors and the greater Pittsburgh community,” the statement said. “We take all complaints seriously and are currently investigating those specific to last weekend’s Barrel and Flow Fest. At this time, we are listening and gathering feedback from all levels and perspectives in order to ensure customers, guests of our neighbors and members of our community feel safe and welcome at Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh at all times.”
Two days later, the restaurant posted that its staff met with one of the organizers of Barrel and Flow, and they were “deeply concerned” about what they heard.
“As next steps, we’re retaining an outside and independent law firm,” Hofbräuhaus stated, “to continue this investigation that will include a review of existing security camera footage and eyewitness accounts.”
The general manager of the brewery has also been suspended as the probe continues. On Monday, the brewery advised anyone who may have experienced or witnessed racism during the event to contact the lawyers conducting the investigation.
Neither Barrel and Flow nor Hofbräuhaus immediately responded to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
Formerly known as Fresh Fest, Barrel and Flow was launched in 2020 by the hosts of the Drinking Partners Podcast, Day Bracey and Ed Bailey. The festival partners with a number of local breweries in the Pittsburgh area in an effort to merge beer and the arts in the Black community.
One follower of Barrel and Flow wrote on Facebook, “This is beyond disgusting. I have no words. For sure, [Hofbräuhaus] lost my business.”
“So pathetic of Hofbräuhaus to display such lack of integrity,” another follower posted. “They have nothing on Barrel and Flow Fest!!! Saturday was phenomenal; the music, the beer, the people & the food. The Barrel & Flow Team are doing incredible things!”