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Twitter Fight Over Racy Indiana Beer Label Highlights Industry Sexism Concerns

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 5, 2016 7:20PM

The label for Sex and Candy. Photo via 18th Street Brewing Website.

There's a minor firestorm brewing on Twitter in the craft beer community, and it's about an old favorite topic of ours: Sexism in the beer world. We've seen plenty of potentially sex-laden beer labels, and you can add this one to the list: 18th Street Brewery's Sex and Candy. The brewer is also responsible for such beer names as "Bitches' Bank," "Bitter Bitch Pale Ale" and "Bitch Hands," so.

The label for Sex and Candy features a women's panties, emblazoned with the beer's name, and a pair of crossed thighs. Some might object, some might say it's all in good fun. At least one beer lover, however, registered her disappointment with it on Twitter.

OK. Social Media 101 says that if your brand gets attacked on Twitter, you have two choices: Ignore it or use it as an engagement opportunity. Unfortunately, 18th Street took the less-recommended third choice: attack the complainer.

You can check out the whole convo if you want, but it got worse, and many people piled on saying that they were unlikely to buy the beer in the future.

There are more. Lots more. Maybe it's all in fun, and maybe you think people are too sensitive about women's body parts on beer labels. However, when your brand has beers called "Bitches Bank," and "Bitter Bitch," maybe you should rethink your messaging?

Former Time Out Chicago Dining Editor Amy Cavanaugh has written about this topic in the past, arguing that breweries need to "grow up."

But for some reason, these breweries are choosing to alienate a whole group of drinkers who would potentially buy their beer. Do they assume that women aren’t drinking their products and just want to appeal to male drinkers? Are they not even considering the possibility that women might drink beer? Or, are they not even thinking and just think these labels and names are funny?

I don’t care if these are the greatest beers ever—giving the breweries money for them is an acknowledgement that this immature, sexist mindset is okay. It’s time breweries started realizing there are women paying attention to the beers they’re making and it’s high time these breweries grew up.

We agree with her. There's no need to alienate half or your audience, or worse, assume women just don't drink beer. Further, when someone calls you on it, making a sexist comment about her twitter handle is a low blow. Even if you want to defend your beer labels as fun, works of art, inoffensive or just plain sexy, insulting your customers just isn't good business.