To say the world of craft beer is a bit of a boy’s club would be disingenuous. It’s very much a boy’s club. Yeasty beards abound under ball caps at almost every brewery you go to these days. A study at Auburn University showed that only 29 percent of brewery jobs went to women. Moreover only 17 percent of breweries are headed by women. That’s Silicon Valley-low. We all need to do better to open up the craft beer industry and get away from the “bunch of bros, in beards, brewing” mentality. New ideas, new energy, and a new sense of diversity will only help things.
One discouraging outgrowth of this unbalanced industry has been the naming and labeling of beers. Bottles like Raging Bitch, Dallas Blonde (Goes Down Easy), Wailing Wench, Tramp Stamp, Naughty Girl, Panty Peeler, Happy Ending, and so many more are objectively shitty. Sure, the label might grab eyeballs, but upon further thought it’s dumb and reductive.
The folks over at The Brewer’s Association have had enough as well. So they’ve released a new set of rules for labeling that outlines what they’ll deem acceptable for their seal of approval.
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After graduating from AB Tech's Brewing & Distillation Program, Sarah Gulotta went from a part-time packaging and tour guide position to full-time production brewer in under 2 years. Well done Sarah! #internationalwomensday #iwd2017 #girlsrule #girlpower #girlgang #avlbeer #ncbeer #828isgreat #hiwirebrewing
This is a pretty huge deal. The Brewer’s Association — with it’s 3,800 brewery members — have enacted marketing guidelines to curb labels that “contain sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning brand names, language, text, graphics, photos, video, or other images that reasonable adult consumers would find inappropriate for consumer products offered to the public.” They also don’t want any labels with “derogatory or demeaning text or images.” We’re going to go head and guess beers like Panty Peeler fall under at least one or two of those parameters.
What does this mean exactly for craft brewers who just can’t help their misogyny from shining through on their product? Basically brewers won’t get the marketing and benefits from being in the largest brewer’s association in America — a hugely important tool for any beer company trying to make it out there.
Julia Herz, the program director for craft beer over at BA did not mince words about what these guidelines mean when speaking to Vice.
“Those expecting to enter craft beer competitions and medal-winners will be expected to adhere to the Marketing Code,” Herz said. “Every brewery has the right to brand, market, and advertise their beer brands in any manner that they desire. But we’re drawing a line and saying that if those brands don’t fit with our code, the BA is not going to promote them or give them access.”
Losing BA promotion and the chance for awards is a pretty big hill to die on just for some overtly sexist labeling.
The BA will set up panels to evaluate offending beer labels based upon complaints filed with the group and decide on a case by case basis whether the offending label fails to meet their “marketing code.” The onus of this exercise then falls on the “reasonable adult consumer” judging the labels as misogynistic or demeaning. Which is how capitalism works. If the consumer doesn’t want your product, you fail. And there’s no real reason for an entity as big as the Brewer’s Association to throw you a life preserver for being unnecessarily sexist or demeaning in the first place.
And please don’t @ us with some ‘freedom of speech’ nonsense. A private company can name their beer whatever they want. That also means another private entity can choose not to promote that product if they deem it unworthy of their organization’s benefits.