The Saloon, one of Minneapolis’s most popular gay bars, announced on June 19 that it has cut ties with brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, citing the company’s response to the anti-trans backlash against its marketing campaign featuring actress Dylan Mulvaney, as WCCO first reported.
According to WCCO, the bar will replace its Anheuser-Busch beers, including Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, and Michelob Golden Light, with craft beers by Minneapolis-based brewers Bauhaus Brew Labs and Modist, both “local companies that actively support and grow the LGBTQIA+ community,” as the Saloon said in a statement.
The Anheuser-Busch controversy began in April, when Bud Light sent Mulvaney, a social media influencer, a few beers, which she used in a brief video promoting a Bud Light sweepstakes. One of the beer cans had a special print of Mulvaney’s face on it, celebrating the one-year anniversary of her gender transition. The video ignited an anti-trans Internet backlash among conservatives, who called for a Bud Light boycott. Country musician Travis Tritt banned Anheuser-Busch beverages from his national tour; Kid Rock shot cases of Bud Light with an assault-style rifle in a Twitter video. By June, Bud Light had lost its No. 1 spot as the nation’s top-selling beer to Modelo Especial.
Shortly after the backlash, CEO Brendan Whitworth released a brief statement, saying that Anheuser-Busch “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.” From there, the company seemed to distance itself from Mulvaney’s ad. In late April, two top marketing executives went on a leave of absence; in May, Anheuser-Busch announced that its future marketing campaigns would center on music and sports.
The company was then criticized in turn by members of the LGBTQ community for what they perceived as a lukewarm response and lack of support for Mulvaney, some even calling for reverse boycotts. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation removed Anheuser-Busch’s top rating for LGBTQ equality.
The Saloon isn’t the first bar to drop Anheuser-Busch beers — a number of Chicago gay bars cut ties in May.
“Anheuser-Busch had an opportunity to support a marginalized community in a way that few other corporations have attempted, but they abandoned that direction,” owner John Moore said in the statement. “We view that as unacceptable.”
The announcement comes just before this weekend’s Twin Cities Pride festival. According to WCCO, Bauhaus said it is “honored to contribute to the vibrant celebrations of Pride alongside The Saloon” in a statement.