Grovetoberfest organizer Tony Albelo is facing backlash for using the name and hashtag #DarkBeersMatter for an upcoming beer-sampling event, originally scheduled to be held at Wynwood Brewing Company this Monday, October 5.
The hashtag, posted on the Grovetoberfest Facebook page, seems to be a parody of #BlackLivesMatter, a movement started in 2013 as a response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin.
Albelo is known for using puns in the promotion of his events. In the past, the master marketer has called his beer-tasting events "The Dark Side," "Love Is Blind," "Who's Bad," and "Spummer," to name a few, and Albelo's spring festival is called "Sprung." This time, however, some people think the beer maven has gone too far, and they've taken to Facebook to post their negative reactions. A Grovetoberfest post, in reply, stated that people had no sense of humor:
The comments soon grew heated:
People then called on the boycott of Wynwood Brewing Company's beers:
In response, Wynwood Brewing Company has pulled out of the event, with founder Luis G. Brignoni posting a message on Facebook in which he claimed to not be aware of the theme of the event.
It has come to my attention that Wynwood Brewing Company has been associated with some distasteful and offensive marketing to promote an event that was being hosted at our brewery. At no point were we made aware of these remarks or the theme to promote this event. We truly apologize if this has offended any individual. Again, we were simply a venue hosting an event that is no longer taking place at our establishment. I opened this brewery to bring people together and enjoy local craft beer, not create any sort of division or make any political statements; that’s just not what we do.
Again, I apologize if this has offended anyone, we were just made aware of this within the last 30 mins. The event is canceled at our brewery out of respect to those that were offended as we were.
Thank you for your continued support and most importantly to the folks that brought this to my attention knowing we would never be associated with such offensive material.
Luis G. Brignoni
In a call last evening, Albelo was contrite. "I never meant to hurt anyone with the name. It was meant as a joke. Beer is meant to bring people together, not tear them apart." He said he would change the name of the event, which doesn't have a confirmed location at this time. Soon after, the following message was posted on the Grovetoberfest Facebook page:
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Today, we posted an event with a name, which had only humorist intentions, but was offensive and insensitive. It was never intended to offend, although it did. It was never intended to be controversial, although it was. It was never intended to be divisive, and yet, it was. We take full responsibility for writing and posting it, and we apologize to those who were offended. In fact, we also apologize to those who it didn’t offend, as well. You see what we didn’t realize at the time was that we didn’t see it as offensive, because it had never touched us or our lives. But it has touched the lives of many of our fans and followers, and that’s why it was so inappropriate. We never saw how it could be taken any other way than from our perspective, and in reality that was an uneducated and obtuse perspective.
Once again, we apologize to all who were and were not offended. Those who know us will realize our sincerity and, we only hope those who don’t know us will be able to read the sincerity in this letter.
We want to be clear that this in no way was read or approved by the folks at Wynwood Brewing. This was written by us and sent by us. But since there is always a potential of “guilt by association” we are moving the event from Wynwood Brewing to a new location. It is not fair they receive any negativity from this lack of judgement. Again, it is our doing. They have worked hard to build a great brewery with great beers, and that should remain intact.
Finally, we will continue to host the dark beer tasting at a new location which will be announced tomorrow. Our intentions are always to promote craft beer, and that will not change. After this experience it will happen with a much more careful and sensitive direction.
The event has been renamed "Tasting #4 - Porters, Stouts, and More."
Albelo is not the only person who has parodied Black Lives Matter. The Root covered a story on the #AllLionsMatter hashtag, which surfaced after Cecil the Lion was shot by dentist Walter Palmer, and last evening, The Daily Show's first ten minutes were dedicated to a parody titled "Are All Cops Racist," which included several pundits invoking the Black Lives Matter movement.