Et Tu?

Roman Polansky.
Bill Cosby.
Jeffrey Epstein.
Harvey Weinstein
C. K. Lewis.
Fred Lee?

I am still in shock. You’ve probably heard the accusations by now. (If you haven’t, go here.) My thoughts are all over the place right now.

When I joined the craft beer community over a quarter century ago, as one of the first to open in Columbus, I helped many subsequent breweries find their footing. I was proud to do so, and continue to help anyone who reaches out to me. When I got into the craft beer community, there were just over 200 brewpubs and microbreweries (as they were called then) in the entire country. Today, there are about 50 just in the Columbus metro area.

In this time, I have found the participants to be friendly, supportive and collaborative. The craft beer industry is one I’m passionately proud to be a part of. As craft beer has become big business, I have noticed that the communal spirit that I grew up with now has a few exceptions. Players who don’t have the entire community in mind. Nothing too alarming, though.

Until yesterday.

I read a few social media posts about some, frankly, horrible things. Then, Columbus Alive posted their cover story on line.

Multiple women accuse Actual Brewing founder Fred Lee of sexual assault

At this point, all we know is there are accusations. It looks like a lot of them. It is unfair to make premature conclusions at this time. But the news makes me sick to my stomach. To protect privacy, I won’t name names. But I know women first hand who have experienced sexual assault (unrelated to this case.) They will never get justice. Even if they could, they carry trauma with them for the rest of their lives.

I write this for two reasons. First, I want to make you aware that the vast majority of our beer community is not like this. I know most of them. If you are a casual craft beer fan, you probably subscribe to the stereotype that craft brewers are bearded and wear eccentric clothes. Fred Lee fits this description. So do many other brewers in town.

Please, don’t paint our entire beer community with one brush. The vast majority have families, and have the same dreams and desires you do. They work hard. Don’t forsake the whole tree for one alleged bad lemon.

The second reason I decided to post is that I sincerely want to turn a lemon into lemonade. There’s no good way to do this. This stain is out in the open. The best course of action is to learn from the past and make for a better future.

Many of you know that I operate both Smokehouse Brewing Company and Commonhouse Ales, a more recent endeavor. I set up Commonhouse Ales to be a socially responsible business. We set up an account through the Columbus Foundation called Commonhouse Shares.

It’s funded through sales of Six One For Good Ale. $1 from every six pack sold goes to Commonhouse Shares. To date, we have funded around $20,000 and have granted about $10,000 to local charities.

Today, I have directed the Columbus Foundation to cut a check for $1,000 to Gracehaven, our first charity to get a second grant from us.

Gracehaven’s mission is to eradicate child sex trafficking in central Ohio and provide rehabilitative, trauma informed care to survivors. What got exposed yesterday is horrific. But evil has to start somewhere. It’s starts with the children.

There are over 1,000 children who are sexually trafficked in Ohio annually. Really.

I spoke with Sara Tate, development director for Gracehaven, today. Gracehaven is expanding space available to house girls rescued from the streets, from six beds to 24. These girls are traumatized. Many are admitted as addicts. Rehab is no sure thing. It takes a long time of patient care, which Gracehaven does spendidly.

Let me tell you about one girl in Gracehaven’s care right now. She was sold out, at age 8, by her mother to her uncle. 8! She recently got off the streets and is 12 years old now. She’s slowly doing well. Do you doubt, though, that she’ll be scarred for life? Never sure who to trust? Evil. It’s all around us.

Evil. We must fight it, with every ounce of our energy.  This is my feeble attempt to use  light as disinfectant.

I won’t judge what happened until all the facts are out, in broad daylight, but I do have a question:

Et tu, Fred Lee?

Lenny Kolada
aka Brewdood

P.S. I leave you with the lyrics to Get Together, by the Youngbloods. It makes me feel better to read the lyrics today. I hope it does the same for you.

Love is but a song to sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen!)
You hold


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