NorCal Brewery Faces Backlash Following Release of “F— PG&E” Beer

Photo: Shady Oak / Facebook

A Santa Rosa brewery owner wanted to make a public statement on the recent dark revelations and power shutdowns from Pacific Gas & Electric. He made tit in the best way a brewer knows how to, and now he’s facing significant backlash.

Steve Doty, owner of the Shady Oak Barrel House in Santa Rosa, put his thoughts of the embattled power company on a beer when he released his “Fuck PG&E” craft beer to the public. What the owner thought was a commentary on the greed and corruption of PG&E executives turned into a bevy of 1-star Yelp reviews, online commentary and angry phone calls.

The beer, described as a “classic California pale ale,” brought unwanted backlash to the brewery, which was inundated with so many 1-star Yelp reviews that it’s score down to 3 and forced Yelp to halt reviews of the brewery. On Facebook, a post about the beer was slammed with angry comments:

“As a wife of a very hardworking, compassionate PG&E gas serviceman who was born and raised in Santa Rosa, I find your new beer label completely insulting,” wrote one commenter. “My husband has been working 18 hour days and not seeing his little boys for the past two weeks to help our local community. Your label is hurting the men and women that work day in and day out for their community. They are your neighbors and they were your customers. You will not have our business in the future. Please do yourself a favor and consider all sides and parties before labeling your future beers. Also, do yourself a favor and look up inverse condemnation.” 

“My husband works for PG&E, they are the hardest working employees and the most generous,” wrote another commenter. “My husband will be letting crews know to pass this s— show of a bar due to your low class, and ignorance.”

“As a wife of a Lineman who puts his life on the line daily to ensure people like yourself have power I absolutely will not be supporting your establishment, nor will my friends or family,” added another.

From the owner’s perspective, Doty was trying to editorializing the perceived corruption of the power company, who has been the cause of multiple devastating Northern California wildfires and has been famously turning off power to millions to protect from the financial risks of those fires.

“My read on it is that I guess people have inferred something else from what I have actually said and assume that I’m against the employees which are here and are helping us, which we have as regulars, which we support,” Doty told SFGate. “Then people are also assuming that for an area like we are in, Santa Rosa, where we’ve been horribly, horribly burnt by fires and all of the fallout from that, that we also, for some reason don’t like the people that are helping us? I guess that’s just kind of painful too. We’re not against those people.”

The taproom has also been the subject calls from angry people, with some employees on the receiving end of harassment and violent threats. On Sunday, the brewery issued a lengthy apology on Facebook:

While many people in NorCal remain angry at the power company for the recent revelations putting it in a terrible light, it seems like there’s always two sides to every story.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California
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