Your Sexism is Predictable and Boring, 18th Street Brewery.

My friend Lakeline just watched a brewery she liked take a critique of a sexually objectifying label they have very poorly. She had some words on it, and I offered to share those words here. I have my own thoughts on the topic, but I haven’t been able to put them down yet. For now, know I agree with every word she’s written below. — Natasha

Loving beer has always been pretty easy for me. Even when I was a nerd in high school who wouldn’t do anything more than drive my drunk classmates home from keg parties, I loved the taste and would happily drink a glass when my parents would offer me some with dinner.

Loving craft beer was always pretty easy for me too. I love lots of people who brew and own breweries, my husband and I homebrew ourselves.

Sexism, however, is a part of craft beer I could really do without. This is usually not a problem! I’ve managed to surround myself with some of the loveliest people – they homebrew, they own or work for brewpubs and production breweries, they just like beer and it as an excuse to go places and socialize with people.

Breweries often base their brands on the quality of their beers and still have gorgeous label artwork (I’m thinking of places like Metropolitan, Revolution, Blue Island Beer Company). Every now and then breweries will unintentionally brand a beer offensively and take the criticism, such as in Half Acre’s case, where they took the criticism and changed the label.

But “edgy” beer labels are a scourge. Breweries sometimes decide to try to stir up controversy (at best) or are actively and happily promoting sexism (at worst). The nightmare of Pig Minds’ “Panty Dropper” was awful for many of us – we were embarrassed and appalled by the implication of the name and label while at the same time enduring countless bros mocking anyone who was offended1. Route 2 Brewing, also in Indiana, has created unrepentantly sexist labels and stood by them when people tried to discuss it with them.

Those of us who care about things like objectification, sexism, and craft beer’s representation to the rest of the public can’t jump on every single problem. It’s exhausting and pointless. Few places listen respectfully if there’s a problem (Half Acre is the only one I can think of!), and the cost of trying to help a brewery make a more respectful brand is often a mocking and rude response.

So when I saw the response of 18th Street Brewery to Carla Jean Lauter’s (@beerbabe) respectful and mildly worded question, I knew what was coming. But as someone who has been to their brewery and enjoys the location (it’s a great mid-point between Chicago and our friends in Northwest Indiana), I thought I’d jump in and point out that it’s not just an isolated issue of “some feminist crank on twitter was mad.”

My main takeaway from 18th Street Brewery’s responses was their clear lack of understanding of both sexism and how branding works (hint: personal twitter handles require less stringent care than a business’ product) and their obvious snarkiness. To both Lauter and me.

The most frustrating thing, however, was just how typical it is. And how exhausting it is. And how ridiculous it is that people can’t answer a respectful question without doubling down on their support of sexism and objectification.

Breweries: it’s not hard to be respectful. All of the breweries I mentioned in the above paragraphs manage to respect their customers and have professional courtesy on their social media accounts. And when you get a question, remember that many people are reading it and will associate your attitude with your brand.

I’m tired. And sad. And I need a beer. I know which brands I’m going to reach for, though. And which brands I won’t.

1 And, as previously discussed on this blog, mocking even after the label had changed.

2 thoughts on “Your Sexism is Predictable and Boring, 18th Street Brewery.

  1. Did 18th Street Brewery change their Twitter profile picture and their banner image to the “Sex and Candy” label after the Tweet storm? Or was it already there?

    • They changed it kind of in the midst of the Twitter storm. I’m not sure if it was before or after they dismissed Lauter as a troll and as garbage, but certainly the timing makes it all but impossible it was anything but in response to the discussion.

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