Offensive Labels
                                  by Victoria D. Garner

Hello Bob and friends -  I'm a female who loves beer.  I've noticed my
gender is usually in the minority when I go out to a beer centric pub
or beer festival and that's fine with me.  Also, from my experience
women are in the minority shopping in the beer aisles at the store.  
And that is where even I have a problem.  Far too many beers have
outright sexist labels that are simply offensive to me and I hope to
many other beer lovers regardless of their gender.

Let me give you some examples. Lowell’s Route 2 Brewery makes
Leg Spreader ESB and Stacked Double IPA. Gary’s 18th Street
Brewery brews Sex and Candy IPA. New Albany’s New Albanian
Brewing Co. sells Naughty Girl Belgian Blonde Ale.  Maybe they think
their being creative; I think they're being sophomoric.

There are some critics argue that the highly sexualized branding
objectifies women and promotes a culture of rape and sexual
harassment. I don't buy that at all but I also don't buy those in the
brewing industry that claim it's all just edgy, artistic marketing  and
people like me are too sensitive.

The Stacked double IPA label features an illustration of a well-
endowed woman wearing only a pair of underwear. The label of its
Leg Spreader ESB shows a large-chested woman sitting with the
brewery's logo between her spread legs. That's more than "edgy".

I understand It’s just a name and for 8 out of 10 people might say it
was the picture that got them to try that beer but trust me if your
beer was that good you wouldn't need a label like that.  I don't think
Heady or Westy 12 or Bourbon County need an offensive label to
sell their beer.

I know a bit of beer history and realize that women have long been
used in beer advertising, from the Rheingold beer girls of the '40s
and '50s to the pinup era of the '50s and '60s to the bikini-clad
women of commercials today ("Find your beach," Corona tells us).
That marketing approach goes back to male-dominated saloons and
taverns.  Women generally were not a part of the drinking scene
until after Prohibition, so much of the early brewery advertising was
targeted to men.  Understandable but  even then it was more modest
cheesecake and today's near porn.

After Prohibition was repealed, the beer industry sought to improve
its public image, A campaign by the United States Brewers
Foundation from the '40s to the early '60s sought to distance itself
from the saloon. Beer was portrayed as a product for both men and
women to enjoy in a more wholesome, domestic setting.  That's
probably something a few modern breweries never would think of.

Eventually the campaign was abandoned and brewers turned their
attention back to men and the working class.  I'm not sure why.  If it
was due to falling sales so be it but that doesn't justify today's beer
names and labels that objectify women. There is a difference
between laughing at and laughing with.. Labels that objectify women
or any other group are not funny to them or should they be to
anyone else.

Beer names and labels get approved through the U.S. Department
of Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. While
many of the requirements focus on proper labeling for alcoholic
content, the rules do prohibit “any statement, design, device, or
representation which is obscene or indecent.” The problem is that
everyone doesn't share the same views on what is obscene or

I'd like to salute one brewery that did change -  3 Floyds.. Its Big
Tiddy Assassin was listed on some websites as one of the most
sexist names and labels in craft beer. The label showed a salacious,
red-headed woman.  The beer has since been retired.. The Flemish
style red ale was renamed Canus Invertus with the label depicting a
demonlike character.

In my opinion the  issue goes beyond a single brewery. Wholesalers,
retailers and consumers all can influence branding decisions.  And
of those three we consumers, female and male, have the final say.

We should never underestimate our power in voting with our dollars.  
Yes, we consumers ultimately have the final say when we buy beer.  
I do not buy any beer with a sexist or offensive label.  I hope you and
your readers will consider at doing the same.

Thanks Bob.  

Many thanks Victoria for sending me your article.  You present a  
passionate argument in a most logical manner.  Labels do not need to
offend anyone.  They can still be "edgy", exciting, funny, or whatever
without resorting to being crass. I also agree that in the long run a
brewery's success is based on the quality of their product not the
packaging.  Please write again.

I'd like to  invite everyone to send me their own columns about
anything related to beer in any way just as Victoria did.   I select
the best and publish them here.  So join in and get writing!

BeerNexus proudly presents

Bob Montemurro
"the ombudsman of beer"

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