Would you drink a beer called “Flint Michigan Tap Water”?

Mike Pomranz
July 16, 2018

Discussing politics over a beer is nothing new. In fact, having a place to debate the issues of the day over a drink is practically why pubs were invented. But typically, the beers themselves aren’t prompting the topic. The owners of a forthcoming Indiana brewery say they want to change that by giving their beers names that—regardless of your politics—are provocative to say the least.

According to a recent profile by the South Bend Tribune, Lakeville Brew Crew, a Lakeville, Indiana-based brewery slated to open this fall, is planning to launch with a number of controversially-named beers including “Flint Michigan Tap Water,” “Black Beer Matters,” “White Guilt” and “Mass Graves.” Though tapping into such polarizing topics might sound like little more than a publicity stunt, the brewery insists it chose the names in the hope of getting people talking about these issues.

“The way I look at it—with the ‘Flint Michigan Tap Water’—if you’re going to get mad about that beer name, you should focus your anger more toward the people that are letting that happen to Flint,” Jon Duncan, who co-owns the company along with brewer Rodney Chlebek, told the Tribune. “If I can bring some attention to that, whether it be negative attention toward me, it still brings attention to that issue.”

Duncan told the paper that when the brewery opens, the plan is to have up to eight other beers as well, potentially all with contentious names. “If people can come and talk to us about (the names), that would be fine...None of this is done out of hate, none of this is done out of making fun of it,” Duncan was further quoted as saying. “That was to bring awareness to the issues.” In a non-sequitur at the end of its article, the Tribune also quoted Duncan as saying he planned on “making Lakeville the Walt Disney of beers,” mentioning that the goal is to make the brewery family-friendly and “all about the beer.”

Politically-themed and controversially-named beers are nothing new. Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump have had beers named after them. A group of breweries recently teamed up to produce a series of beers to support the ACLU (so far, Lakeville Brew Crew has not announced any plans to donate to the causes that inspired their beer names). And even very specific events have gotten beer tributes: For instance, President Trump’s recent meeting with Vladimir Putin prompted a Finnish brewery to create a beer called “Let’s Settle This Like Adults.” However, a completely new brewery planning to launch with what sounds like a lineup of almost entirely provocatively-named beers? It’ll certainly get people talking—though whether that’s good or bad for Lakeville Brew Crew is yet to be seen.