My great-grandfather and his brothers were legal distributors of Anheuser-Busch products for 90 years. My great-great-grandfather was a not-so-legal distributor—a bootlegger—for some years prior. My dad worked on trucks in the warehouse his great-grandfather built and went on to a full career in the beverage industry, which he describes as full of “the best people anyone could ever know.”

The industry calls them distributors and truckers; my family calls them Beer People. I don’t know who wrote the corporate statement about the Dylan Mulvaney partnership, but it sure wasn’t a Beer Person. The message doesn’t match the heart or the history of America’s Beer People. Here is one that does:

Dear American Beer Drinkers,

We made a mistake. The mistake was not signing Dylan Mulvaney as an influencer. The mistake was misunderstanding who we are. We believe you should consume responsibly, not just our beers, but social media as well. We didn’t, and it shows. 

America has a long history of supporting the excellence of people who are different. Anyone who appeared in our marketing efforts, up until a few weeks ago, had either achieved something remarkable or was an unknown actor bringing fun to your day. Dylan does not fit that model. Excellence was missing from this engagement.

This mistake is entirely ours, and we wish Dylan the best: If you do not wish to drink our beer because someone is exercising their right to free expression, please don’t. It is wrong to disparage someone for their own free choices. So, too, is elevating an individual who is doing something in public, for profit, that we believe is a private matter. This is where we went wrong.

For over 160 years, Anheuser Busch has delivered to your favorite stores and taverns our beers, sourced from American farmers, through family-owned distributors. Delivering beer off a truck is harder than it looks.

No matter what brand they are delivering, beer people are the best people we know. They are now paying the price for understandable public outrage, caused by a decision in which they had no say. We apologize that our actions have hurt them.

Today, large companies are not free. They are judged and measured by many groups who wish us to promote their social agendas. If corporations don’t bow to their demands, they face an organized and well-financed media campaign against them. It is patently un-American. 

From today on, we will no longer engage with these groups. We will not meet with them or report to them. We would rather meet with and report to you. So, we’ll be launching a tour of America’s favorite neighborhood bars, sending our leaders to speak openly and honestly on your home turf. More problems have been solved on barstools than in comments sections. It should go without saying, but just in case: This round’s on us.   

Instead of complying with intolerant and illogical rating systems, we wish to be judged on our own actions. Our employees can decide if we have created an inclusive place to work. Our shareholders can decide if we are operating with governance on par with the best human traits. Our customers can decide if they want to enjoy their lives with our beers.

Every quarter, we will prepare exhaustive reports for our shareholders and present them at live meetings. Every group that wants to force our behavior is welcome to come talk to us at those meetings. We pledge to treat them with the same respect owed to our shareholders, analysts, and customers.

We believe America will be a better place if other companies join us in this effort. But we are happy to go this way alone.

Going forward, our ads will once again reflect our values and our humor, as they did for generations, from Spuds Mackenzie to Waaaaaasupppp! We pledge to return joy to the beer business.

So, we are going to crack open a Bud Light, a lot of them, and talk to you, our Bud Light family. These events will have a lot less social media and much more face-to-face engagement, the way real life should be. Who knows, we just might make a few more friends. After all, we have always said, Making Friends is our Business.