If you've ever stared at the mind-numbing (and ever-growing) selection of craft beers among the aisles of your grocery or corner store, you've surely noticed the prevalence of images of scantily clad women wrapped around bottles and the lame wordplay that inevitably goes along with them.
Panty Peeler, Leg Spreader, and Mouth Raper are just a few examples of actual craft beer names that have demonstrated the cheesy, sexist labelling and branding that permeate the craft beer market. But given the dizzying amount of competition, it's not surprising that craft breweries are using sex to stand out on shelves.
Can't knock the hustle, right? Wrong, says the Brewers Association (BA), whose job it is to "promote and protect American craft brewers." The BA represents more than 3,800 American brewers and 46,000 members of the American Homebrewers Association, and has just added two important lines to its Marketing and Advertising Code.
These new guidelines states that marketing 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" or "derogatory or demeaning text or images."
Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association, told MUNCHIES that this code of conduct will have very real implications for brewers.
"Those expecting to enter craft beer competitions and medal-winners will be expected to adhere to the Marketing Code," she explains. "Marketing is all based on the personality of the marketers. Beer marketing is full of exciting and edgy marketing that often gets attention."
"Every brewery has the right to brand market and advertise their beer brands in any manner that they desire. But we're drawing a line and saying that if those brands don't fit with our code, the BA is not going to promote them or give them access to our intellectual property if they win a medal at the Great American Festival or an award at the World Beer Cup."
In other words, champion brewers will not be allowed to attach these titles to their beers if they choose a name that sounds more like a porn film than a pale ale and don't meet the new standards set up by the Brewers Association.
Award-winning homebrewer Mandy Naglich, an who penned a related op-ed for MUNCHIES earlier this year, is optimistic about these new guidelines. "I think they are great! I especially like the focus on a 'reasonable adult consumer' being the judge of what is lewd and demeaning," Naglich says. "The way the BA wrote these guidelines makes it very clear that it isn't some self-righteous committee deciding what can and can't go on a beer label, but instead the consumers."
Naglich was also pleasantly surprised at the practical framework and potential consequences for those who do not respect the marketing code.
"This is an example of the BA not just saying, 'This is what you should do,' but instead saying, 'This is what happens when you violate these guidelines.'
"Having an action plan is a step that so many well-meaning 'stands on sexist' are missing. Seeing a clear outline of what is expected and what will happen when expectations aren't met—it's a huge step."