Napa Voodoo Ranger Bear-Themed Water Park Plan Was a Hoax

In the long run, New Belgium Brewing admitted that it was joking with the residents of Napa.

After months of working a pretend advert marketing campaign for a lazy IPA-filled wave pool and a rollercoaster constructed from beer barrels for a 136-acre theme park, the Colorado Beer Firm has damaged character, admitting that many suspects : Voodoo Ranger’s plans for IPA Motion Parks have been by no means actual.

Now that the reality has been out, it is clear that New Belgium’s publicity stunt was brutal and imply, designed to painting Napa residents as snobby NIMBYs. It is the equal of a wine-marketing prank present that mocks folks’s critical response to one thing they by no means realized, paying homage to a nasty episode of “Nathan for You”.

In the long run, nobody goes to look good: neither the embarrassed residents of Napa, nor New Belgium, who has spent the previous few months tweeting issues from her Voodoo Ranger account like “the buzzkills of the Wine Nation clog our IPA Motion Park.” need.”

Monday’s massive “revelations” on Instagram documented the entire affair: the main target group New Belgium organized for involved residents, the anti-voodoo ranger protest that occurred in downtown Napa, sparked dialogue in publications all over the world, during which it additionally contains. Whereas New Belgium seeded a few of the protests themselves, a few of the protests have been additionally actual – a predictable final result in a metropolis the place new tourism developments usually encourage public outcry.

Protesters gathered in downtown Napa on July 2 to protest plans for the Voodoo Ranger IPA Motion Park.

Courtesy Jack Palas

“This prank was a enjoyable solution to strike on the cultural pressure between the worldwide icon of exclusivity and ‘style’ Napa,” Fechter wrote in an electronic mail.

It may need been enjoyable for New Belgium, however the folks of Napa would not see it that means. Those that took New Belgium on their phrase have been proper to be involved in regards to the environmental penalties of a sprawling water park throughout a interval of historic drought. And people who’ve by no means fallen for the enjoyable might not respect the brewery’s implication that the town is full of wine connoisseurs. (Likewise, journalists who preserve writing about the entire thing could also be aggravated on the Voodoo Ranger taking part in within the fingers of a skeleton.)

Headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo., New Belgium is a producer of fashionable beer manufacturers together with Voodoo Ranger IPA along with Fats Tire Ale. The corporate was bought by Little Lion World Drinks in 2019, after San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing pulled out of chapter. A big New Belgium taproom opened within the metropolis’s Mission Bay neighborhood final yr.

From the beginning, the entire Voodoo Ranger affair was bizarre. A theme park centered round New Belgium’s fashionable IPA model was by no means doable: it violated the county’s basic plan and would require a public vote to proceed. New Belgium by no means filed a allow utility, County Planning Commissioner David Morrison confirmed to the Chronicle in July, nor did it submit the paperwork to the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Management.

However New Belgium’s failure to reply to any requests for remark, and the corporate’s more and more complicated communications across the park — which included these focus teams — simply aroused a lot suspicion that many noticed it as actual. Agreed.

Or did they? Seeing clips from focus teams and now protests, it’s unattainable to inform who was an genuine involved citizen and who may need been a plant. Girl in focus group complaining that beer flume “seems like pee, and I am not going to enter it” – was she an actor? The “protest organizers” who despatched emails saying their picketing plans to the press look like pretend; A search of their names within the California voter database urged that no such folks really lived in Napa County.

An ad for Voodoo Ranger IPA Action Park.

An advert for Voodoo Ranger IPA Motion Park.

Offered by New Belgium Brewing

It’s troublesome to parse this level. On some degree, the objective is to place Voodoo Ranger IPA as a populist antidote to the perceived elitist wine tradition of Napa Valley. The brewery was daring Napa to take it severely—and it did. Within the Guardian conclusion to its Instagram video, New Belgium declared that “Lastly, we encourage the group of Napa to come back collectively and categorical our opinion.”

If you wish to ridicule Napa residents for what occurs to their group, high-quality. In any case, this can be a place the place even minor points of interest by theme-park requirements, akin to wineries or accommodations, get held as much as shut scrutiny. Outsiders like New Belgium might roll their eyes as nimbism hears from those that do not need to see piles of rowdy, beer-drinking vacationers. However beneath all of it is a uniquely excessive degree of civic engagement, and a inhabitants that has by no means been afraid to take motion to make sure a affluent future.

Now, New Belgium plans to donate $10,000 to the Napa Valley Group Basis, Fechter mentioned. It looks like a tacit acknowledgment that the entire thing was in unhealthy style.

Esther Mobley is the senior wine critic of the San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail:

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