A Manteno brewery is dealing with damage control after allegations of controversial remarks regarding the death of George Floyd, and the protests of police brutality taking place across the nation.
It comes after Steam Hollow Brewing Company CEO and majority owner Natalie White allegedly made a series of controversial social media postings on her personal account.
White’s alleged posts were made at the same time a peaceful protest walked through Manteno, lead by Keenan Love, who trekked 46 miles from the Chicago’s South Side to Kankakee, accompanied by fellow protestors.
The posts, which have since been deleted, immediately created a firestorm of responses, primarily condemning White’s comments. Steam Hollow removed their Facebook page for roughly a week before relaunching it late Monday morning. Prior to removing the Steam Hollow social account, the brewery wrote the following in response to “ugly remarks.”
The post was soon after edited by the brewery:
Since reappearing today, the page has removed the post entirely, posting a Customer Appreciation event this upcoming Saturday night.
Criticism of the post circulated across social media last week, with screenshots of the CEO’s posts going viral. One Facebook page titled, “Worst Beer Blog“, said “This edit may be the single craziest thing I have seen a brewery post.”
The Manteno brewery features a section on their website titled “our values”, where they state that “our philosophy will be reflected in the way we treat our employees, customers, and community”.
Both White and her husband, Blane, the Head Brewer at Steam Hollow, are U.S. Navy veterans. White served for a decade as a 1st Class EAWS (Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist) and served six years in the reserves before being Honorably Discharged by the U.S. Navy.
The Brewery is also listed as a member of the Manteno Chamber of Commerce.
“The Manteno Chamber of Commerce is an inclusive organization where individuals from different races, cultures, ethnicities, religions, backgrounds, and orientations are valued, respected, and supported. We embrace the ability to peacefully protest for the betterment of our community as a whole,” said the Manteno Chamber of Commerce on June 3rd. The statement by the Chamber came one day after comments above appeared on Steam Hollow’s social media.
Many of the brewery’s partners have already disassociated themselves from the business. Mike Faxel, of Faxel Beverage Distribution, issued a statement saying “I am no longer working with Steam Hollow, and have no further comment on the situation”. The company had previously been involved with the brewery, with regard to retail sales of their product.
Brandon DeNormandie, of Crankstart Design Company, who had provided artwork to the brewery, said of the incident that, “Unfortunately I don’t have any comments on this matter and I’m sorry to hear so many people are upset about this situation. I mostly had a business relationship providing graphic design work for their brewery. In that time, we have never talked about her political views or beliefs. My company provides art services for clients, which does not mean that I share the same personal views as my customers”.
Tina Potthoff, Senior Vice President of Communications for the Hy-Vee grocery store chain, stated that, “In the past, we stocked several of their items; however, we currently are not carrying any products from this brewery at our Sycamore store”. The chain’s Sycamore location was one of three known retail outlets to feature their product.
Steam Hollow was originally aided in being brought to life through a Kickstarter planning project back in 2017 that raised over $10,000 in funds to help create the Manteno brewery.
Early last week, Country Herald reached out to Steam Hollow for comments surrounding the response to the protests. At the time of publication, Steam Hollow had not responded to interview requests.