According to our best estimates, this current presidency and the scandals surrounding it have been going on for roughly 8,000 years—or it certainly feels like it. As we finally drag into the impeachment hearings, we’re already bracing ourselves for the onslaught of damning testimonies, vicious partisan infighting, and unfollowing a whole bunch of people on various social media platforms.
Fortunately, there’s beer for all of that. In the 1,027 days (but who’s counting) of the Trump presidency, breweries have taken to expressing their opinions using hops, malt, and barley as their medium. In Austin, Texas, Friends and Allies released a peach saison called Impeach, while Trap Door Brewing, in Washington, brewed a wild American sour ale called ImPEACHment. Both cans depict the stone fruit in question sporting a fetching, totally-definitely-not-fake blonde hairstyle.
Given the current rate of can releases, beer has become another facet of a continuously accelerating media cycle. Brewers can get a batch to market quickly enough to pull off topical, timely satire. For those whose business has suffered under the aluminum tariffs from President Trump's trade war with China and prolonged government shutdowns, it's a means of laughing through a bleak period of American history. For others, it's a convenient way to figure out what the hell to name all those peach beers.
Not everyone is happy about beer becoming a political space, even though to a certain extent, it always has been. This unprecedented widespread reaction is indicative of both how charged the current political climate is and how much the topic of impeachment has been on everyone's brains for years.
“We’re subtly making a political statement,” says Kurt Borchardt, owner and head brewer of Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs, New York. Total Covfefe, the brewery’s coffee oatmeal stout, and Impeachment IPA, which was named through a Facebook vote, have taken swipes at the current administration. Both beers have been popular and largely received in good humor, but Borchardt is still wary of taking things too far.
I have my own political opinions, but I try not to have them come to the forefront as a business owner. We have Republican and Democrat friends and we have to walk that line carefully.”
“Believe me, I have my own political opinions, but I try not to have them come to the forefront as a business owner. We have our Republican and Democrat friends and we have to walk that line carefully,” he says. Nevertheless, in light of the current hearings, he plans to make a new batch of Impeachment IPA as soon as possible. “We’ve gotta brew that again. What I’m thinking of calling it 'Impeachment' with a question mark.”
Because both the media coverage and the lasting impacts of our political process are global, brewers from other continents are chiming in on the matter. BiaCraft Artisan Ales, in Vietnam, jumped not the fray with its “pompously peachy, loud” I’m Peach Mint Ale. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Behemoth Brewing Co. added an Im-PEACH-ment sour ale to a line-up of Trumpian beers including Collusion, a Russian imperial stout.
“We believe that beer should be fun, so we’re poking fun at absurd situations. I like to think of us as the beer equivalent of Last Week Tonight,” says Andrew Childs, a former lawyer, self-professed politics geek, and the founder of Behemoth Brewing Co. “I don’t like the guy and this is my expression of that. You have to be able to laugh at this situation.”
Childs, who is married to an American, first released Dump the Trump, an American IPA, as a short-term gag during the campaign season. It never occurred to him at the time that there would be a demand for Trump-related beers three years later.
“We thought there was no way he was going to get very far,” Child says. “The night Trump got elected, I got very drunk. We actually stopped making the beer for a while because it was supposed to be a joke and it didn’t feel funny anymore.”
Since then, Child has continued to release his Im-PEACH-ment beer, at one point sending it as far as Illinois. He’s also issued a much wider rerelease of Dump the Trump, prompting a firestorm from right-wing trolls, as well as a counter-movement in support of the brewery.
Closer to the U.S. border, Canada’s Red Collar Brewing has faced similarly polarized reactions to a pair of politically charged releases. In the spring of 2017, the brewery launched Impeachment, a soured peach witbier, and Alternative Facts, a hazy IPA. While the majority of customers have taken the joke in stride, a few have failed to see the humor.
“For the most part, other than the odd weird Neo-Nazi finding us online, it’s been a pretty positive reception,” Beardsell says. “We definitely got a few really hard-right Trump supporters who left comments on our Facebook page about how our brewery was Communist. They would all lead back to profiles full of really crazy things about white superiority and whatnot.”
Although the releases were intended to be tongue-in-cheek, Beardsell acknowledges that the situation in the U.S. has had a serious impact on Canadians.
“It does really make a difference who’s in the White House to the rest of the world and you’re pretty naive if you think otherwise. I think that we always have to be aware of what’s happening down south,” says Lara Beardsell at Red Collar Brewing in Canada. “We just thought it was super funny, but we noticed that as the years went on and on, more and more people starting jumping on board.”
The night Trump got elected, I got very drunk. We stopped making the beer because it was supposed to be a joke and it didn’t feel funny anymore.”
When Legal Draft Beer, in Arlington, Texas, released its Impeachment IPA in 2017, the beer sold extremely well, but attracted its share of controversy. Greg McCarthy, the brewery’s co-founder and a practicing attorney, originally came up with the name to fit in with a long list of other legal puns like You’ve Been Cerveza’d, Bock Trial, and Hazeus Corpus.
“What most folks don’t realize about the word impeachment is it also means something different: it means to attack the veracity of a witness in court. We weren’t actually thinking of something political, because at the time, that wasn’t really part of the public lexicon,” McCarthy says. “Obviously, now it has a different connotation.”
Still, he has no plans of walking away from the issue or changing the beer’s name. We haven’t seen the last of his Impeachment IPA, just as it’s going to be a while before we see any sort of definitive impeachment resolution.
“We’ve made that decision to release that beer again in the springtime. Some people will be angry with us,” he says with a shrug. “Look, we’re serious about making good beer, but we try not to take ourselves too seriously.”