It isn’t often that a local business hosts drag brunch one week and conservative elected officials the next, but Lansing Brewing Company is known and often appreciated t for its bipartisanship.
That appreciation turned sour this week when the brewery was announced as the host of a “MAGA Mixer” on March 26. The event was noted by local coffee shop Strange Matter, whose social media platforms urged the brewery to call off the event. Locals then expressed concern, outrage, and disappointment at the brewery’s decision to host the event and took to social media to push back.
“What was upsetting to me is that Lansing Brewing Company is a space that has hosted lots of politicians from both sides,” said Lansing native Ty Forquer. “What struck me as different about this one is that it’s specifically about supporting former President Trump and really pushing an agenda that fundamentally undercuts trust in democracy and fair elections.”
The mixer was the latter half of a two-part event put on by conservative organizations Grand Opportunity USA and Republicans for National Renewal. It was billed on fliers and social media as a “rally to support President Trump” and to support candidates endorsed by his Save America PAC. The groups planned to rally at the Capitol and migrate to the brewery for a social event.
After backlash, the brewery released a statement Feb. 27 on its social media platforms saying that it intended not to push a political agenda, but to host events for people of all different backgrounds. At that point, the event was still on the brewery’s website and scheduled on MAGA Mixer social media pages.
“We, as a brewery, do not put on political rallies,” the statement said. “We keep our focus on making the beer for you to complement the great food and table for conversation. That is what we support.”
For many fans of the brewery, though, this defense didn’t cut it. State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) weighed in on Twitter, expressing her disappointment at the establishment’s decision to “give those who want to tear down our democratic process a place to do it.”
“I don’t necessarily think that their statement suggested there was any level of reflection as to why the event shouldn’t be held,” Pohutsky said Wednesday. “It seems like they noticed a significant public backlash and responded to that rather than really kind of understanding why giving folks like that a platform is dangerous and destructive.”
The brewery announced on Facebook Tuesday that after learning more about the members of the mixer, it would not host the event. Disappointed people expressed anger, tweeting about the “woke mob” ruining the event.
“The Morning Wakeup” host Dave Akerly of 1320 WILS-AM disagreed with those who found issues with the mixer and the decision to cancel the event.
“Lots of online bullies today locally and ‘fierce’ keyboard warriors,” he said in a Monday tweet. “The mob can pound sand.”
The organizations sponsoring the mixer have announced that a new location will be announced privately the day before the event to those with an RSVP. A representative for Lansing Brewing Company did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.