The nonprofit trade association that represents more than 3,800 U.S. breweries has taken a step to curb offensive brand names and labels.
The Brewers Association announced on Wednesday a new initiative to advance diversity in the craft brewing community. And with that, it has amended the guidelines it offers its members when making marketing and advertising decisions.
It added two lines to its code: 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.”
They also should not “contain derogatory or demeaning text or images.”
The announcement follows a surge of industry chatter and media reports, including IndyStar’s coverage of the issue in Indiana.
“This has been an emerging topic,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. The organization has heard from many in the industry, she added. And while the Brewers Association always has been a resource in many other aspects of brewing, she is excited to add diversity to that list.
“And reason No. 1 is because it is the right thing to do,” Herz said.
Route 2 Brewery in Lowell in Northwest Indiana has been under fire for some of its beer names and labels that critics argue are sexist and objectifying to women.
Its ESB style beer is named Leg Spreader, and the label illustrates a large-chested woman sitting with the brewery's logo between her spread legs.
Another version of the label recently has emerged.
Lance Rhoades of Rhoades Beverage Co., which distributes Route 2 brews, said the brewery’s new six-pack bottles of Leg Spreader ESB do not contain the illustration of the woman but the name “Leg Spreader” is still displayed on the back.
IndyStar has not been able to reach Route 2 Brewery’s owner or marketing director for comment other than an email indicating that the brewery has two different labels for the beer: one for gas stations and grocery stores and another for liquor stores.
Under the Brewers Associations new guidelines, beers like Leg Spreader could face higher scrutiny should they ever be entered into and win medals at the World Beer Cup or Great American Beer Festival awards.
An independent review panel would look at any medal winners, and should the panel deem that the brewery is breaking the code, the brewery would still win the award but would not be allowed to use the association in any way to market that beer.
Every brewery has the right to name and market the beer in the way they desire, Herz said.
“Our hope is that they do it true to the values and integrity that the craft beer community should aspire to.”
Follow Amy Haneline on Twitter: @amybhaneline