It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
Did you see that the most popular beer produced by DuClaw Brewing Co. — Sweet Baby
Jesus! has offended enough people that a Cleveland based grocery chain, Heinem's, has
pulled it from their shelves. It became a local big news for a while. And yes, we're talking
about DuClaw, the company that also makes beers with names like Devil's Milk and Hellrazer.
The DuClaw CEO said he understands the decision of the chain to stop selling the chocolate
peanut butter porter. He went on to claim that the name 'Sweet Baby Jesus!' is a phrase
meaning awe or astonishment and that it wasn't meant to be offensive by any means. He
added that any time his company creates a new beer they name it after the emotion it invokes.
What crapolo (my new term for disingenuous).
It's not the first time a DuClaw brew name has stirred controversy. When they opened the first
DuClaw brew pub in the late 1990s their "Bare Ass Blonde" brew, a blond ale drew criticism. I
wonder what emotion created that name? Utah-based Wasatch Brewery sells Polygamy Porter
brown ale with the tagline, "Why have just one?" The Ohio-based Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.
sells Old Leghumper porter,
I understand that craft beers have become known for attention-grabbing names, some more
controversial than others. Utah-based Wasatch Brewery sells Polygamy Porter brown ale with
the tagline, "Why have just one?" The Ohio-based Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. sells Old
Leghumper porter. Flying Dog from Maryland sells beers named Doggie Style, Pearl
Necklace, and Raging Bitch. Sweetwater Brewing makes Happy Ending with a label showing
exactly what they mean and those are just a few. I won't even get into the names that are
offensive to ethnic and religious groups. And it's not just the names that are offensive. Some
of the label art is inching out of control.
It seems to me that many craft breweries forget that their customer base is not exclusively 22-
year-old sleazy guys. Having said that, I know plenty of 23-year-old guys who are mature
enough to realize these labels are inappropriate at best.. I sometimes think that giving these
breweries money when purchasing their beer is an acknowledgement that this immature sexist
mindset is okay. As a woman I won't do it and I know many men who join me in not letting their
blatant degrading sexual innuendo work.
And please don't tell me it's just edgy and pushing the envelope. That's more crapolo.
It's offensive plain and simple.
Whew, I feel better after getting that all out.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time.
My first thought is shouldn't craft brewers past the point the where they have to be crass or
tasteless when naming their beers? Yes, I too found many of the names you cited as being
totally inappropriate and insensitive. I sometimes wonder what these brewers would do if they
would have to explain truthfully, no crapolo (as you would say) what the name really meant to
their young daughter. That would change a few choices I'm sure.
In some cases, breweries use provocative names to create publicity. Sex sells. I agree with you
however that this can cross the line and become extreme. I once complained to a brewer about a
name he has selected and he was surprised. He claimed he didn't realize how provocative it
was. Maybe. To his credit he changed it which wasn't hard since it was only in a brewpub. Still
he did the right thing. I accepted and the issue was done with. By the way, his only defense
other than ignorance was that there are (his terms) 30,000 to 50,000beers being produced in
the US he wanted something different and distinctive. I can buy that to some extent.
With so many beers and breweries out there the easiest and frankly ingenious method to stand
out from the clutter is to come up with a great name. Freed from the constraints of corporate,
focus group-obsessed marketing departments, craft brewers have been able to develop bizarre,
attention-grabbing brand names.
I agree with you that the fraternity style humor employed in the craft beer world is inappropriate
for a product marketed on grocery store shelves. Many beer labels are better placed in a
liquor store where patrons have to be 21 to enter.
Gina, I'm sure you know that when Burnside Brewing realized that Hindus were offended by their
beer Kali Ma and it's label, they were initially surprised at the reaction. But they responded well
by pulling back the release and apologizing - because if there is an offended group, it's worth
acknowledging it and making it an effort to understand it. Burnside's press release stated that it
was "never our intention at Burnside to offend or alienate any race, creed, religion, or sexual
orientation." Now that seems like a good rule of thumb for brewers to follow in naming beers.
But craft brewers shouldn't shoulder all the blame here. Some of it has to fall on the big macro
brands for using sexist ads over the last decades, and creating the image/culture that beer is a
man's drink Unfortunately some craft brewers are adopting and continuing that message. Craft
beer is suppose to be different and better. Why can't brewers just let the product do the selling
rather use cheap marketing gimmicks often aimed at a 12 year old male mentality.. Craft brewers
and drinkers should be trying to re-educate the public by saying beer is a women's drink as well.
Gina, you deserve credit for bringing up this topic. Discussions like the one we're having right
now, hopefully educates and changes perceptions about the importance of dignity and respect in
Here's looking at you Gina