April 14 2017
A trade group representing America’s small and independent craft brewers announced yesterday that it will no longer honor breweries that use sexist and offensive beer labels or names with their prestigious awards.
The Brewers Association, whose members produce more than 99 percent of all American-made beer, has updated its marketing and advertising code to prohibit “sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning brand names, language, text, graphics, photos, video or other images that reasonable adult customers would find inappropriate,” as well as “derogatory or demeaning text or images.”
Speaking at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Bob Pease, the trade group’s president, said that fully excluding companies with offensive names or labels from the Brewers Association would be “fraught with all sorts of legal implications,” according to Brewbound’s coverage of the news conference.
While breweries can still submit beers with “offensive” names or labels in competitions, the Brewer’s Association wouldn’t announce them as winners, even if judges deemed them worthy of the award. And they’ll be banned from using the logos, awards or other intellectual property of the trade group to promote their beer.
“We want our members to be responsible corporate citizens,” Pease said. “We want to err on the side of tolerance. It’s not going to be black and white. There’s a subjective element to that… But at the same time, we do think this step is the right thing to do and shows leadership that is needed. But it’s going to be sticky. It’s going to be hard.”
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. of Anchorage Alaska knows firsthand how “subjective,” “sticky” and “hard” such determinations can be.
Last fall, a Fulbright scholar publicly claimed their Panty Peeler beer promoted “rape culture.” But the beer was actually created by the brewery’s female co-cofounder; the name was intended to be “consensual-sex positive,” and its Lady Godiva-like label imagery was chosen as a symbol of female empowerment, she said.
With its announcement, the Brewers Association follows a growing industry trend. In late February, All About Beer Magazine announced it will no longer report on beers with names that “fall into poor taste,” adding that even blonde or amber beers could be considered sexist. And Thrillist has singled out beers with sexist names and labels.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.