Drinking a couple brews is known to lower people’s inhibitions, but when it comes to naming beers, the Brewers Association wants its members to keep their wits about them. This week, the trade group for small and independent brewers announced it would no longer allow beers with offensive or sexist names to be marketed using the association’s intellectual property.
Importantly, the Brewers Association runs two of the world’s most prestigious beer competitions, the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. The BA’s new policy effectively prevents offensively named beers from displaying any medals won at these competitions in their marketing materials. Additionally, though the BA says these beers can still be entered in its competitions, if one happened to win, the victory will not be publically acknowledged. “If a brewery with an offensive name or label were to win an award, we would not read that name from the stage,” Brewers Association president and CEO Bob Pease said according to Brewbound.
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With over 3,700 members, each making who-even-knows how many different beers, the Brewers Association has seen plenty of questionable names in the past. Some names are classically profane thanks to the inclusion of curse words—brews like “Holy Shit Double Wit” or “Coffee as Fuck.” Other beers teeter on inappropriate innuendo like “Happy Ending Imperial Stout.” But it appears as if the BA is mostly seeking to stop beer names deemed to be more clearly sexist: The number of beers that have had “Panty Dropper” in their name over the years should, at the absolute least, be offensive to people’s sense of creativity.
Due to all these shades of gray, the BA admits the policy will be left up for interpretation. “We want our members to be responsible corporate citizens,” Pease was quoted as saying. “We want to error on the side of tolerance. It’s not going to be black and white. There’s a subjective element to that, and the Association, we’re going to find ways to be inclusive. But at the same time, we do think this step is the right thing to do and shows the leadership that is needed. But it’s gonna be sticky. It’s going to be hard.” If your double-entendre alarm just went off from reading the words “sticky” and “hard,” then you understand just how complicated this topic can be.
Officially, the Brewers Association has added this new policy to its marketing and advertising code which now states that advertising and marketing materials should not “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.” Interestingly, however, these changes will not apply retroactively to previous winners. So don’t worry, MobCraft Beer: Your silver medal-winning Batshit Crazy Coffee Brown Ale is still in the clear.