Santa Rosa brewery ignites social media firestorm over new beer: ‘F--- PG&E'

A Santa Rosa craft brewery has taken community frustration over PG&E to a new level, producing a beer named “F--- PG&E,” though in the process the drink has fermented a social media storm.

Shady Oak Barrel House on Nov. 6 released the beer - a pale ale with cashmere and simcoe hops balanced with malt sweetness - and it has become a strong seller, owner Steve Doty said.

Doty said the name of the draft beer came from his contempt for the executives who run Pacific Gas and Electric Co., whose power lines have been blamed for igniting most of the Northern California wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that have caused billions of dollars worth of damage across the region and the utility’s recent series of intentional blackouts to try to avert more fires.

The craft brewer said his ire was not directed at PG&E’s frontline workers, such as crews who worked in the field to inspect power lines before restoring power to the tens of thousands of Sonoma County customers who endured the temporary periods with no electricity before and during the Kincade fire.

However, many commenters on social media perceived that Shady Oak was attacking PG&E employees.

“Adding to the contempt of the corporation itself puts the hardworking men and women in even more danger,” one person wrote on the brewery’s Facebook page.

In retaliation, others have attacked the brewery - known primarily for its sour barrel-aged beers - in Facebook, Yelp and Google reviews.

Doty tried to quell the brouhaha, posting on Facebook: “I am very aware that this negligence is NOT the fault of their employees and that those people have been CRUCIAL in the statewide recovery process. ”

He said that some PG&E employees are regulars at his taproom and share his concern about management. As a conciliatory gesture, he offered $1 off a beer for those with an “honest review” on social media platforms and $2 off a beer for PG&E employees.

Shady Oak, located at 420 First St., has branched into more traditional beers such as hoppy India pale ales in an effort to attract additional customers.

The brewery typically rotates its beer lineup on tap, but Doty might make an exception because of the popularity of the PG&E beer.

“My general rule for the brewery is that I don’t want to brew the same beer twice,” Doty said. “We had a great weekend. The sales were crazy.”

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette