While Bud Light falters, this brewer is crafting super-political “progressive beers”

Minocqua Brewing Company, progressive beers, left, democrats
Some of the Minocqua Brewing Company's "progressive beers" Photo: MBC website screenshot

Right-wingers have recently targeted Bud Light for a partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney — even though its parent company donates big bucks to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. But while the company has also come under progressive criticism for its weak statements about transphobia, one Wisconsin brewer has spent years creating beers that are proudly progressive, including brews dedicated to left-wing political stars like lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Kirk Bangstad, owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company (MBC), began brewing pointedly political beers after “President Donald Trump (R) played politics with COVID-19 and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) let restaurants twist in the wind,” the brewer wrote on its website.

The shutdowns during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic forced Bangstad to close his restaurant and brewery and lay off his entire restaurant staff. Bangstad felt the lengthy shutdown could have been significantly reduced if Trump had implemented a national plan to slow the virus’s spread.

In protest, the brewer began creating politically progressive beers. His first two efforts – “Biden Beer” (marketed as “inoffensive and not bitter”) and Inauguration Day Beer (sold as a “peaceful transition of flavor”) – sold out before they were even made, MBC’s website states.

The company now sells a variety of political brews. Fair Maps IPA, an Indian pale ale, donates 5% of its profits to The Fair Maps Coalition, an anti-gerrymandering organization. MBC’s “Choice” hard seltzers and sauvignon blanc wine were created in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning abortion rights nationwide. A percentage of “Choice” sales go to reproductive rights groups in the state where they are sold.

MBC also sells six beers dedicated to progressive politicians, including a “Vice Presidential Stout” for Kamala Harris (D), a “Democratic Socialist Lager” called “Bernie Brew,” an “AOC IPA” bearing the likeness of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, and a “Tammy Shandy” named after Sen. Baldwin (D-WI).

“Senator Baldwin is there for Wisconsin at every turn—fighting for farmers, fighting for small business owners, fighting for those falling through the cracks, fighting for the 99%,” MBC writes. “At this point, Tammy Baldwin has become one of Wisconsin’s many treasures — like beer and cheese. And that’s why we put all three of them on a can.”

A portion of the beers’ sales go towards the Minocqua Brewing Company SuperPAC. The PAC, which Bangstad calls “Dark Money Meant for Good,” aims to remove Republican federal and state elected officials who contributed to COVID-19-related deaths by downplaying the virus’s deadliness and those who contributed to the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots by lying about the 2020 election being “stolen.” Some profits also go to progressive causes and reproductive rights groups.

“We are now focused on brewing awesome beer for people who care about lifting those up that are less fortunate and making politics in Wisconsin as clean as the lakes and streams ‘Up North,’ the brewer added.

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