Black Hops on the back foot over beer name

Reigning Champion Small Brewery Black Hops Brewing, has this afternoon been forced to take down and apologise for a Facebook post, deemed by Pink Boots Society Australia as “degrading” and “tacky”.

The Gold Coast Brewery’s new Pussy Juice Peach NEIPA was described by the brewery as “wet and ready right in front of you, a ripe and juicy peach”.

“And you know that you could taste it all if you had the balls to reach.”

“Take it roughly in your hand and tear away the seal. Lap the liquid lustily like devouring your last meal.”

The post quickly generated a flurry of comments, including beer writer Guy Southern.

“Black Hops Brewing this isn’t acceptable. I love your beers but ask yourself this: What would be the reaction if Coopers released this beer? Or Coke? Or Apple?”

“Being crafty doesn’t give anyone a free pass. Besides being tasteless, beer can do so much better. Why not try harder? Leave the lazy, sexual innuendo and stereotypes to Macro Beer and stand for something better.”

“I am not a snowflake, I’m just disappointed because you could be doing so much better.”

While his views have been echoed by many commenters, not all agree, with many applauding the name and marketing strategy.

“Ok, first of all, with all these negative comments you need to remember Black Hops is a small business and they respect their staff enough to allow them to choose such name,” Stephen Shine said.

“Secondly if you have ever met Ali, you would clearly know this suits her personality so stop with this PC/sexist crap. I think it is great and I’ll be there tomorrow afternoon to try!”

Within hours of the original post, it was removed and replaced with this apology.

“Today we stuffed up and we apologise.”

“Earlier today we posted a decal of our latest limited release beer which we have called Pussy Juice. As a new business we have an amazing dedicated team who work around the clock to help us make and promote our beer. After 1 year of service we give each staff member their own custom beer.”

“Normally we try to be a bit cheeky and creative with the beer names, styles and design. For our epic bar team leader, we worked on something that in hindsight pushed the boundaries a bit too far. Playing on her nickname AliCat as well as the words of a well known drink in the industry, and the ‘Juice’ referencing the beer style. She expected it to be seen as a pro-women celebration and something fun to mark her 1 year of service.”

It continues.

“As a new business, it’s been a lesson for us. We certainly weren’t trying to create anything viral or any kind of deliberate negative press. Anyone who knows us knows that we are all genuine supporters of the industry, women in the industry, diversity in the industry and also having a bit of fun in the industry. Today we got the balance wrong, and for that we apologise. We’ve taken the post down and also taken the decision to not sell the beer under this name.”

However, the apology – especially the line “Anyone who knows us knows that we are all genuine supporters of the industry, women in the industry, diversity in the industry” is hard to reconcile with previous errant social posts from the brewery, including the photo of head brewer Michael McGovern that was apparently posted to the brewery’s Instagram account before also being taken down.

In a reply to a question from Brews News, before today’s post was taken down, McGovern said the beer’s name was not an issue.

“It’s about as controversial as a “cock sucking cowboy” shot and we are confident it will have the impact we expected.”

This initial response calls into question the brewery’s claim in its subsequent apology, and in a statement to The Crafty Pint, that the post was “absolutely not” meant to go viral.

The post comes only days after a similar meme was published by an Ohio-based publishing company to the Passport Brew Tours Facebook page. Entitled, ’12 reasons why beer is better than a women’, the meme includes similar sentiments to those of Black Hops post, including lines like “beer always goes down easily” and “you can enjoy beer every day of the month”.

US-based Paste Magazine reported that within 24 hours, almost all breweries associated with Passport Brew Tours had publicly announced that they would no longer be participating in the tour.

Pink Boots Society Australia has released a statement denouncing Black Hops post.

“Unfortunately, today we saw a throwback to the old times, when women and their sexual worth was somehow an acceptable marketing practice.”

The statement continued.

“There was a great opportunity here to celebrate one woman’s contribution to our industry, instead that brewery chose to take that recognition down an entirely different path. The reasons she was chosen to release her own beer is not the focus of their marketing for this beer – we should be celebrating her contributions instead of having this tired discussion. We write this not just as women working in the industry, but also as beer professionals. We want to see our industry grow.”

“How are women meant to be feel accepted in workplaces if we accept communications such as this?”

“How can we expect female consumers – the greatest growth opportunity for breweries – to choose beer over other drink choices when they see this kind of marketing?”

“We know not everyone is willing to understand our position, but we will continue to call out these decisions. The need to have scantily clad women in branding, sexual innuendo in words and other demeaning actions is no longer something that we will quietly stand by. It is degrading. It is tacky. It is simply not needed. We as an entire industry should be setting higher standards than this.”

Australian Brews News was inundated with messages from people in the beer industry bringing the post to our attention and raising concerns about the post.

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