The craft beer explosion continues to well, explodes, with microbreweries pumping out beers inspired by everything from Miles Davis to instant noodles. Though this inebriation innovation is more than welcome, there’s definitely a line—which a brewery crossed earlier this week when they announced the ill-advised launch of two beers inspired by the Crips and the Bloods.
Mirage Beer, a company based out of Seattle, announced the debut of a pair of beers inspired by the two prominent West Coast gangs. Both beers, brewed in the questionably-gangster flavors of New England IPAs, have cans featured a design reminiscent of a gang bandana along with names inspired by phrases lifted from gang life—“Snitch Blood” and “Where You From” (for the Bloods and Crips, respectively):
Instant noodle-flavoured beer might literally be in poor taste, but invoking the culture of gang violence to make your cheeky beer is just straight-up tasteless. Not only did the beer nerds agree, but they also made sure to let Mirage Brewing know about their mistake:
This kind of branding makes me profoundly sad.
Things like this aren't just some line in a song or a movie. These things are based in real life experiences with life/death consequences that destroy families and communities.
And you're gonna use it as a joke to move units? pic.twitter.com/DU1P9bsdsh
— Good Beer Hunting (@goodbeerhunting) May 27, 2019
Mirage Beer… those new beers y’all are releasing is a dub. Y’all are entitled, non creative Kulture vultures that deserves to fail, hard & fast. Fuck all the politeness, people have died over that shit you’re trying to use to be down & kool. FUCK YALL. pic.twitter.com/VkOpDkSEVi
— Beer Kulture (@beerkulture) May 27, 2019
Who idea was this and what group of board members approved this as a good idea to bring to market https://t.co/DHliiDMSli
— anthony carter (@taurusamc2002) May 28, 2019
The good news, though? Mirage Brewing listened. Though the company announced they were still moving forward with the release of the beers, they admitted that lifting their aesthetics from L.A. gang culture was a “dumb idea” and that the names would be changed, with all proceeds going to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights nonprofit:
In a more detailed apology, Mirage’s Michael Dempster said, “I deeply regret the obvious element of appropriation, and further, that they trivialized the impact of gang violence on marginalized communities. I’m embarrassed and ashamed to find myself here.
Dempster added that “I also want to thank members of the beer community for forcefully saying, “check your privilege,” as I clearly needed that check. Your responses give me hope for this industry, and kept me from making an even bigger mistake: actually using those stupid labels and letting them hit shelves, where they could then hurt, anger, or disenfranchise anyone who passed them.”
All too often when these public missteps happen, the party at fault shrugs off responsibility or remorse under the moral panic excuse of “political correctness has run amok!” Not only did Mirage take full responsibility for their actions, but Dempster spoke up against those trying to defend his mistake as an issue of censorship: “to those saying they ‘don’t think it’s a big deal’ or whatever, you’re wrong. This was an egregious misstep, and I hope you think on it further. We’re all better off when insensitivity and ignorance are big deals.”