-- John Holl, editor of All About Beer Magazine
Last December, I was revisited by ghosts. It's a recurring phenomenon with me.
THE BEER BEAT: Addressing diversity in "craft" beer, with Naughty Girl once again on the wrong side of the debate.
... Leg Spreader gave me pause, as did the reactions of some colleagues on the guild board. In turn, I started seeing Naughty Girl in a different light. My professional life was evolving during the same period of time. These chain reactions in consciousness continue, and I'm constantly taking mental notes.
Have I become some sort of expert on these issues, whether they pertain to sexism, equality, diversity or a hundred other thoughts of cultural worth, worth having?
Of course not. All I can do is try to be better informed, and as a result maybe improve myself as a person. All I can do is try my best to listen, think and act responsibly. To me, the beer revolution always meant something better, far beyond the beer in the glass. I'm disappointed in myself that when presented with an opportunity to reflect this ethos with regard to a Belgo-Indian Blonde Ale being brewed in 2011, I chose a lower common denominator.
But what's done is done. Now, I'll do what I can do.
Bits of my phone conversation with at the time writer Bryan Roth appeared in "Sexist Beer Ads Miss the Mark," his article in All About Beer (March 2017; V. 38, No. 1), which is available at issuu. It's worth your time to read.
Last month I spoke with the Amy Hainline of the Indy Star, and her story appeared yesterday.
‘Pinup versus pin her down’: Indiana beers stoke controversy
Indiana beers straddle sexy and sexist
“Sex sells” is a phrase often used in advertising. But are craft breweries taking the tactic too far?
John Holl, editor of All About Beer Magazine, thinks so. His recent column asking breweries to stop what he calls offensive, sexist branding has been shared widely on social media by brewers and brewery owners. He cites Panty Peeler Belgian-style Trippel from Midnight Sun Brewing Co. in Anchorage, Alaska, and Once You Go ... Black IPA from Lynnwood Brewing in Raleigh, N.C.
As discussion erupted, Indiana examples surfaced, as well.
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.
Critics argue that the highly sexualized branding objectifies women and promotes a culture of rape and sexual harassment. But others in the brewing industry say the edgy, artistic marketing makes beers stand out and people are too sensitive.
My own tipping point came in 2015 with the advent of Route 2 Brewery's Leg Spreader.
Route 2 Brewery has a menu of beers with suggestive names and labels.
The small brewpub's 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.
The marketing and sales director for Route 2 Brewery, who asked to not be identified for this story, comes up with the names and approves the artwork.
One way to look at Route 2 Brewery's accomplishments is to grudgingly concede that in terms of primal disinformation, they're completely synchronized with our Trumpian times, and ideally placed to begin blaming coastal beer snob elites for looking down on honest red-state-blooded Indiana males who just want 'em stacked, with legs spread -- and above all else, to make sure neither their local pastor nor Planned Parenthood doesn't get involved.
However, Route 2 will have to do better than taking credit for the idea while cowering behind a curtain. It's the same degraded mentality behind on-line anonymity.
Come to think of it ... hiding's the whole point, isn't it?
Meanwhile, here I am, doomed to think and rethink the past. I spoke at length with Hainline about the war between conscience and "be a good business person, already" and she included the most important part in the story.
“What was I thinking? Well, I know what I was thinking,” (Baylor) said, recalling how his business was struggling. “I was thinking whatever it takes to sell something because we’re not doing well. And that’s scary because lapsing into that is one reason I’m not doing it (business) anymore.”
The rejoinder comes from NABC's current management, still hemorrhaging money as I await my truncated share.
“I guess I would say sex sells,” Amy Baylor said. “I never really thought of it as sexist. Probably just growing up in the world we live in.”
Maybe it's time for all of us to delete our accounts until we get this thing right, finally. My ghost visitations are getting tedious, and I'd prefer they cease.