The inaugural Passport Brew Tour launched in northeast Ohio at the beginning of the month, and was scheduled to run through the end of the year. Twenty breweries signed on to participate in the region’s newest craft beer trail, which was organized by Akron’s Lunar Cow Publishing and Visit Canton, the city of Canton’s visitors’ center—and the fact that we’re writing about this in the past tense tells you how things are going.
“The craft beer industry is booming and beer enthusiasts have become more organized and social in their consumption of craft beer," Lunar Cow president Benjamin Harris said just before the trail’s launch. "The Passport Brew Tour not only promotes local breweries but also brings the participants together.”
But after an indefensible social media post by Lunar Cow, the Passport Brew Tour is already over, less than two weeks after it began. And although those breweries and would-be participants are united, it wasn’t because of beer, but because of an intense loathing for Lunar Cow.
On Sunday, Lunar Cow posted a meme on its Facebook page listing 12 reasons why “beer is better than women.” Although the photo has since been deleted, if it’s the same one that Ohio.com described—the one accompanied by a woman’s silhouette on a beer can, marked with a red slash through it—those reasons included “Beer always goes down easily,” “You always know you are the first one to pop a beer,” and “You can enjoy beer every day of the month.”
The online reaction to the post was a near-universal chorus of “Nah, fuck that,” and the real world response was equally swift. By Monday night, 18 of the 20 breweries had announced that they were no longer participating in the Brew Tour, and many of them had written their own posts condemning Lunar Cow’s Spencer Gifts-level misogyny. (The two breweries that did not signal their disapproval, BJ’s and the Mucky Duck, might have to explain their decisions. Or non-decisions.)
Meanwhile, Lunar Cow is essentially teaching a masterclass in what not to do after a massive social media mistake. On Monday morning, it wrote a response that was one degree from just saying “We’re sorry if you were offended,” while insisting that it has the “utmost respect for women.” Three hours later, it posted a link to a Fodor’s article about women who run craft breweries. (“Women in brewing are awesome. Let’s add to the list!”) Shortly after that, it wrote another apology and said that the social firm responsible for posting the meme had been dismissed. AND AFTER THAT, it linked to a second article about women in the craft beer industry. (“Wow…what a list of great role models! Overcoming gender bias and creating positive change.”)
And then it was fini– no, wait, we missed Lunar Cow’s fifth attempt at damage control. “The Passport Brew Tour sincerely apologizes to all participants, sponsors, and brew tour members for a recent post that was made on our behalf from an independent advertising company over the weekend,” it wrote, a sentence that exactly zero people seem to believe. “The guidelines that were set for the outside company were not followed, which resulted in inappropriate content being posted, and the relationship with the outside advertising company has since been terminated.”
Although Lunar Cow closed each of its apologies by encouraging everyone to continue to participate in the Passport Brew Tour, that’s not happening. It’s over, and the breweries involved just have to be crossing their collective fingers that potential customers won’t hold them responsible for Lunar Cow’s behavior. “We don’t want anything to do with that tour,” Amanda Conrad, the co-founder of Sandy Springs Brewing Co., told Ohio.com. “I’m just disgusted.”
Paul Fryman, the founder of JAFB Wooster Brewery, called the post “100 percent” offensive. And the executive director of the Tuscarawas County Convention and Visitors Bureau said that all of the marketing materials for the tour were going straight into the recycling bins.
MUNCHIES has reached out to Lunar Cow for comment but has not yet received a response. Hope it was worth the LOLs, dudes.