Pete Beyda is a firm believer in having fun at work. And he owns a brewery. So how hard can that be?
This week it was challenging, due to the divisive nature of American politics and President Donald Trump’s rally Tuesday in Wildwood.
Call it a Trump brew-haha. And this is not the first time beer didn’t mix well with presidential politics.
Beyda showed up for work Sunday at his 7 Mile Brewery in Rio Grande, four miles inland from the Wildwoods Convention Center that hosted Trump’s rally. There were trucks, recreation vehicles, and one very noticeable bus parked across the street from the brewery, with people selling Trump-branded T-shirts, hats, and other gear.
Beyda took a picture of the bus, emblazoned on the rear with an image of Trump’s face pasted on the body of Philadelphia’s favorite fictional boxer, Rocky Balboa. (Trump tweeted a similar image in November.) “Ready for round 2, 2020, Keep America Great” was spelled out in large, white letters next to the image.
“And it begins,” Beyda posted with the picture on his brewery’s Facebook page. He had no idea then how spot-on that prediction was.
“Man, a s—storm ensued on social media,” said Beyda, a registered independent who wasn’t trying to endorse anyone for anything. “That was never our intention. Never wanted to stir the pot. For a sleepy little town in New Jersey, when the president comes to town, it’s a big deal.”
What followed were more than 14,000 engagements with the post in a single day — more, Beyda said, than 7 Mile Brewery gets in a typical year — with some aiming invective at the business, others rising to its defense, and then the two sides turning on each other with insults and accusations.
Beyda said his wife persuaded him to take down the post. In its place, they posted a message explaining that the brewery was not taking sides in a political debate and had only meant to mark “a historical event.” But that didn’t sit well with Beyda, who then reposted the images that prompted the uproar.
Beyda takes a businessman’s view of Trump — some of his excise tax policy has been good for the brewery; some of his tariffs have increased costs.
“I’m not pro-Trump,” Beyda said. “I’m pro-president. I live and operate in a democracy. I respect the office of the president. If that bus had Barack Obama on it, I would have taken a picture.”
This is not the first brewery in the region to get caught in a Trump undertow. Conshohocken Brewing Co. took heat on social media last year for hosting a watch party for the president’s reelection campaign announcement. The company later declared it would no longer rent space for political events. And the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville faced backlash and a boycott after hosting the president’s son Eric Trump for an endorsement event just before the 2016 general election.
The bus Beyda photographed has been on the road for just 10 days. It was wrapped with Trump images by Buddy Hall, who drove it to New Jersey from Wallace, N.C. Hall told Clout he is using the bus — which has no connection to Trump’s campaign — to support the president by selling T-shirts and hats, with the money raised going to a charity that searches for kidnapped children.
Hall said reaction to the bus on the road has been overwhelmingly positive. He has cruised it to the White House for a photo shoot and plans to drive it soon to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla.
Clout pauses here to honor the short life of “Baby Trump,” a large Mylar balloon of a diapered and screaming president, inflated in Wildwood to protest his visit — and last seen floating over the Atlantic.
There was a cry of “Oh, noooo!” from the protesters, but that shifted to cheers. Was Baby Trump a sacrifice to the gods of politics? These are strange times. You be the judge.
Trump fans were elated, mocking the progressive protesters for their environmental carelessness. “What about the dolphins?” one man screamed repeatedly from a balcony until he was red in the face. “Save the turtles! Save the turtles!” two teenagers chanted with glee.
The protesters, undeterred, sang, “Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye,” waving and wishing farewell to Baby Trump.
Dougherty’s comeback then: He didn’t see Junior at the White House when he met with Peter Navarro, the president’s economic adviser, to discuss the PES refinery in Philadelphia.
Last week, Dougherty was back at the White House, again meeting with Navarro, pushing to reopen the refinery. The labor leader told hundreds of building trades union members about it at a City Hall rally Thursday.
“OK, I want to let you know, we’ve been from the refinery and the heart of the fire to the White House,” said Dougherty, who later added he may be headed back to the White House in a few weeks.