A co-owner and head brewer at Hailstorm Brewing Company, a craft beer maker in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, was removed on Monday after allegations emerged on social media that he had sexually assaulted a woman at a beer festival last summer.
In a public statement, Hailstone owners Ashley Thompson and Chris Schiller wrote that Steve Miller was no longer part of Tinley Park-based Hailstorm, “effective immediately.”
“Based on the incident, this owner will no longer be affiliated with Hailstorm Brewing as an owner, investor, or employee,” a portion of the statement reads.
The news was first reported by Guys Drinking Beer.
The allegations emerged on the Chicago Craft Beer Alliance, a private Facebook group devoted to discussion of the beer industry. The described incident took place in August at the Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival in Madison, Wisconsin; this past weekend, a commenter posted a screenshot accusing Miller of inappropriately touching a woman at the summer festival. Schiller, principal owner of Hailstorm, told Patch on Monday that Miller admitted to what was discussed online, saying he was heavily drinking and was involved in “something that was basically assault,” according to Schiller.
In the same Facebook thread as the screenshot, Miller wrote that the screenshot posted was “an accurate portrayal of the night,” adding he’s “still incredibly ashamed.”
Hailstorm says it will hire an outside firm to investigate Miller’s behavior during his employment at Hailstorm. He began as assistant brewer and was promoted to head brewer in 2020, and named a co-owner in February. Previously, he worked at Brickstone Brewery in Bradley and brewed his own label, Slap Shot.
The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild also announced that Miller has resigned from its board of directors, to which he was appointed last summer. A guild statement reads it wasn’t aware of the allegations and it will soon release an “anonymous reporting tool for brewers, staff, and patrons — to help our members foster safe, respectful and inclusive environments for all.”
Miller was one of five owners at Hailstorm, which is known for its barrel-aged Vlad Russian imperial stouts and other beers. This is the latest in a series of allegations of abuse within the craft beer world that some have called a reckoning for the industry. In May, Paul Ciciora was removed from his position as chief executive officer of Lemont-based Pollyanna Brewing, which he had also cofounded, after allegations of sexual misconduct.