One of America’s wealthiest beermakers is in hot water after voicing support for Donald Trump. Dick Yuengling, the fifth-generation owner of America’s oldest brewery, gave Eric Trump a personal tour of his historic Pottsville, Penn. plant on Monday, and, according to local reports, told the younger Trump, “Our guys are behind your father. We need him in there.”
His remarks sparked protests among some Yuengling patrons, who took to social media to voice their objections.
State representative Brian Sims, one of Pennsylvania’s first openly gay state legislators, wrote a lengthy Facebook post criticizing the company. “D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. believes that an agenda that is anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-racial minority and anti-equality is best for them and that tells me all I need to know about what they think is best for their own customers,” Sims wrote in the post on Wednesday, which he signed “a former customer of 17 years.”
Later that day Sims also asked a number of gay-owned establishments in Philadelphia to follow in his footsteps and boycott the brand.
It appears some are heeding the call. David Perruzza, the manager of JR’s Bar in Washington, D.C., also posted a video of himself removing the bar’s Yuengling beer tap, saying, “When people support things that don’t support us, then we don’t support them.”
It’s a rare bout of bad publicity for Yuengling, which has achieved cult-like status in Pennsylvania and the 18 other states throughout the East Coast and Southeast where it can be found. It’s also a rare misstep for its billionaire owner, Dick Yuengling, who turned what was as struggling family brewery in 1985 into a $550 million (revenues) beer giant. He drives a dirty Toyota Camry to work every morning and wears Wrangler jeans, but his $1.9 billion net worth earned him the No. 361 spot on this year’s Forbes 400 list.
During an interview for Forbes’ recent feature story on his efforts to pass the business down to his four daughters, Yuengling hinted at a few reasons he might support a Trump administration. When asked what challenge he’s most concerned about his daughters facing, Yuengling pointed not to the increasingly-competitive beer market, but to excessive regulation. “The rules and the regulations and the paperwork — it’s horrible,” Yuengling told Forbes in May. “We don’t need the government to tell us everything.”
And he says the nation’s tax code is driving companies overseas. “I’m the owner of the oldest brewery in the country,” he told Forbes. “I’m trying to compete with Anheuser-Busch, which is owned by Belgians, and I’m sure the tax they pay is far less than the percentage we pay in the United States. How do you compete?”
Now, with the backlash against his endorsement of Trump gaining momentum, Yuengling could be losing formerly loyal customers to those same foreign competitors, including Anheuser-Busch.
When reached for comment, Yuengling said he would also be happy to welcome Hillary Clinton for a tour of his brewery, but declined to comment further. “I’ve said enough.”
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