A dark side of craft beer
In the thrill of good beer and a vibrant industry, there’s a dark side to craft beer that gets overlooked. It’s a side of the industry I can’t stand, don’t understand, and want changed.
If the craft beer industry wants to be taken seriously, it’s time for breweries to prove they can get rid of this demeaning nonsense.
Other beer writers such as Melissa Cole have discussed this far more eloquently, but I’ll have a go at talking about both a specific instance and a general problem. (I talk in more detail about the specific instance in the Jan. 23, 2014 Eugene Craft Beer Roundup.)
“Mouth Raper IPA”?
I have no smoking gun to prove the name one way or the other. I hope to hell the name wasn’t Mouth Raper, and I hope Hop Valley would know better. (Again, I talk here in more detail about the Hop Valley flap.)
But this is just one issue in a much bigger problem.
The bigger problem
This flap reminds us of a problem throughout the craft beer industry: stupid beer names based on sexually demeaning words and images.
Not every brewery does it, and I don’t want to give the impression that every row of tap handles resembles a row of skin mags. Many breweries do not use this sort of marketing, and they are doing the right thing. But the problem is out there, it harms a good industry, and it needs to be addressed.
Beers across the world use names and imagery that range from suggestive to outright objectifying and demeaning. I’m going to skip all the yadda-yadda about political correctness or boys-will-be-boys or any other nonsense non-defenses, and go straight to some simple suggestions.
Breweries: Grow up.
Breweries, here are 2 simple rules of the road for naming and labeling your beer so it’s not demeaning to women:
- If the name on your beer is something you wouldn’t want your daughter called, change the name.
- If the label depicts an image you wouldn’t want to be a picture of your mom, change the label.
Call me old-fashioned, but I use a pretty simple rule for deciding whether something is demeaning. If you can sub in a similar term (“men” instead of “women,” or “black” instead of “white”) and it comes across as demeaning, then it’s demeaning.
Actually, it’s even simpler: names that objectify and demean need to become extinct. Now.
Call me naive, but folks across the industry, if you want to claim how mature and big craft beer is, then get your beer names, labels, and marketing out of the locker room.
If you want the industry to be taken seriously, do better and take care with what you’re calling your beer. It gets noticed, and it makes you look like immature idiots.
If you want more women to drink your beer—and heaven knows millions of pixels have been lit up about the issue—then don’t alienate women.
Don’t alienate men, either.
I won’t order a beer whose name I wouldn’t use around my grandmother. I won’t order a beer whose label demeans my wife, my friends, and all the other women in my life. And I won’t order a beer whose labeling and marketing reflect language or a mindset that I don’t want my son to have.
How many people don’t want to drink a beer whose name is too disgusting to say?
But the real question, craft beer industry, is if you’ve grown up enough to listen.