Queensland craft beer brand renames ‘sexist’ product, but the fallout shows a deeper problem

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“I am tired. I am tired of having this conversation. I am tired of getting told to get over it, to get a sense of humour or that my life must be blessed if I choose to be upset over something like this. I’m also tired of hearing ‘not all men’. I’m tired of having to explain that ‘jokes’ like this are all a part of the bigger picture that does contribute to a society that women are undervalued, underpaid and underestimated at the lighter end and being killed every week by a partner at the other end.”

We are tired too. This was a message Women’s Agenda received last week from Zoe Ottaway, the vice president of Pink Boots Society Australia, a not-for-profit that educates and empowers women in beer.

Her email was in response to a new beer that was released and then recalled hours later yesterday by a boutique Gold Coast brewery Black Hops.

Why the recall and apology? The product was named Pussy Juice and it was released with a sexually explicit ‘poem’.

Unsurprisingly this sparked a furore when it was shared by the business on Facebook with hundreds of men and women expressing shock at the overt and tired sexism.

Beer writer Guy Southern wrote:

“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.”

To Black Hops’ credit they removed the post, apologised and have said they will rename the product.

But the apology didn’t cover the poem, however, and appears to overlook the fact that the name alone was not the issue. The marketing of the product — from the name, the poem and the image — is entirely base.

Black Hops co-founder Dan Norris told Women’s Agenda he knows how wrong they got it.

“Absolutely,” is the answer he gives when asked whether he understands the reaction it has received. He also says the poem was the worst thing about it.

“It looks f*&#ing awful outside of our bubble, I absolutely get that,” he says.

“What we put out isn’t ok. We have learned a painful lesson and we are still trying to figure out what to do to prove we are really sorry.”

The team of 10 are contrite and Norris’s hope is that Black Hops fans refrain from hurling abuse at the men and women expressing their legitimate distaste at the artwork, name and copy.

“I’m pretty horrified at some of the reaction from people who think they’re our fans,” Norris says.

“I’m trying to delete those comments as fast as possible so that is one thing I’d say to anyone reading. Please don’t resort to attacking and abusing commenters who are upset by the post.”

The ugly abuse the apology has provoked that is telling, predictable and disappointing.

“This has set off an avalanche of abuse at women who were brave enough to call this out,” Ottaway told Women’s Agenda.

“The original post has been taken down, so you can no longer see what commentary that encouraged but the real anger towards the women and men standing up against this happened once the apology was posted.”

The usual verbal assaults have been thrown around: snowflakes, lefty PC brigade, outrage police, humourless feminists.

“Why is standing up against this so confronting for these men?” Ottaway asks.

It’s a good question.

“Women are still incredibly underrepresented in beer, whether that role be brewing, sales, marketing or business management,” Ottaway says.

“How can we encourage more women to work in beer when this keeps happening? How can we encourage more women to consume beer when this is how it is marketed?”

Pink Boots released a statement saying the time for sexism in advertising and marketing beer is done.

“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.”


This is an edited version of an article that was first published by Women’s Agenda.

NOW READ: What it takes to run a successful craft beer business in Australia

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