Jean Broillet IV, the founder of Tired Hands Brewing Co., has quietly resumed a role in day-to-day operations of the popular Ardmore brewery — a year after publicly stepping away in the wake of allegations of sexism and discrimination. He has been working at the brewery again for a couple of months, according to spokesperson Greg Matusky.

“He stepped away to do some soul-searching. He owns the company, he’s the visionary behind it. He’s back,” said Matusky, founder of Ardmore-based public relations agency Gregory FCA.

Broillet stepped away from Tired Hands’ helm last May. The move followed an outpouring of anecdotes from former employees that appeared on the Instagram account of Massachusetts brewer Brienne Allan. Several former employees whom The Inquirer later interviewed described Broillet as presiding over a “dude-bro culture” at Tired Hands.

The transition management team at the time, represented by Tired Hands director of operations Rob Berliner, had said that Broillet was “not going to be present or involved in any aspect of the business” going forward, and indicated that management had discussed Broillet divesting in the company. Berliner said the team intended to overhaul company culture, starting with employee profit-sharing, organizational restructuring, and town hall-style meetings for employees.

When contacted for comment, Berliner directed this reporter to Matusky.

In a follow-up email, Matusky wrote Broillet never agreed to enter conversations about divesting himself of Tired Hands, and that he had also never agreed to permanently leave the business.

The management shake-up “called for some self-reflection” on Broillet’s part, Matusky said. “He used this as an opportunity to look at how he operated in the past and he wants to make a more inclusive and accepting place,” Matusky said. “He’s doing what he can to become a better manager and business owner.”

Matusky said Tired Hands has created a new code of conduct, built a more diverse staff, continued to offer competitive wages and benefits, held monthly “all hands meetings,” and reorganized its HR department. The company is currently searching for a new head of HR, he said.

A subtle reentry, followed by a splash

Though no formal announcement was made, loyal patrons of Tired Hands and close followers of its Instagram account — where the founder’s departure was announced — have noted Broillet’s return. “I guess Jean’s officially back,” commented one reader on an early June post featuring the brewery’s bong-shaped “Sensory Analysis” beer glasses. Broillet appeared in a photo on a recent Father’s Day post, and he was the apparent author of a first-person post two days earlier.

Broillet’s return became news earlier this week, after the website Good Beer Hunting posted a story detailing employee reactions. It also reported that a 2021 Instagram post announcing Broillet’s departure written by brewery employees was recently deleted.

“I think some of the employees were overzealous when they released that statement,” said Matusky when asked why the post had been deleted. “Jean hadn’t approved that statement, and it suggested that he was stepping away forever. It was never the case.

“He owns this business. He created the brand, he created the beers, and it was fully his intention to return. And he has,” Matusky said.

Tense Instagram exchanges

The Good Beer Hunting story also reported that Allan, known as @ratmagnet on Instagram, recently received direct messages from Tired Hands’ official account asking her to remove any posts referencing the brewery. Allan told The Inquirer, “It was all fine and dandy until they started bringing up lawyers, which was being used to intimidate me into thinking they would press charges.” She consulted her lawyer and decided to take down the posts, as various former Tired Hands employees had characterized Broillet as litigious.

Allan later posted screenshots of her exchange with the Tired Hands account, as well as an internal Tired Hands email Broillet had sent to staff last year pledging not to pursue any legal action against her.

Afterward, the brewery’s account posted now-deleted stories that read, “JUST PLEASE STOP WITH YOUR HARASSMENT @ratmagnet” and “PLEASE STOP TRYING TO HURT GOOD PEOPLE @ratmagnet.” Allan provided The Inquirer screenshots of the stories, as well as her correspondence with the official Tired Hands account.

Matusky said that Broillet reached out to Allan “in good faith and was hoping for her to reply in a professional manner. Instead, Jean believes she again attacked him, the Tired Hands brand and his business, and used his good-faith efforts to somehow ‘alert’ the craft industry that he had ‘secretly’ returned to Tired Hands.” Matusky said Broillet returned to the company openly and is now working at the brewery six days a week.

“Interestingly, upon his return, one of the first issues he is made to deal with is again @ratmagnet and her continued efforts to libel his business and his reputation,” Matusky said.

Matusky noted that while Allan has acted as an advocate for change in the brewing industry, she’s also a competitor, starting a brewery of her own. “It is also important to note that NONE of her original allegations have led to any legal action, settlement, or even any outreach from those making such allegations,” Matusky wrote. “In short, Jean has not been found guilty of anything. Yet she persists.”

Allan reiterated that she removed all of the stories, as requested, and that she has not posted any further stories referencing Tired Hands. “All I wanted was to show [Broillet] was trying to intimidate me and not sticking to his word,” she said. “He’s an industry leader, it’s important that he shows a good example.”