“None of this is done out of hate, none of this is done out of making fun of it,” Jon Duncan, co-owner of craft brewery Lakeville Brew Crew recently told the South Bend Tribune. “That was to bring awareness to the issues.”
Duncan is referring to the controversial names of his and fellow co-owner Rodney Chlebek’s beers — “Flint Michigan Tap Water,” “Black Beer Matters,” “White Guilt,” “Mass Graves”— which have, unsurprisingly, prompted negative backlash.
The Tribune reports Duncan and Chlebek “want their beer to do the talking for itself,” but many feel the pair have questions to answer.
“The way I look at it — with the ‘Flint Michigan Tap Water’ — if you’re going to get mad about that beer name, you should focus your anger more toward the people that are letting that happen to Flint,” Duncan said. “If I can bring some attention to that, whether it be negative attention toward me, it still brings attention to that issue.”
With the ever-increasing competition in the craft beer market, however, others in the industry view the contentious names as nothing more than a marketing ploy. Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Dayna Tran, co-owner of Michigan-based Eternity Brewing Co, questioned the pairs motivation.
“If the intent of Lakeville Brew Crew is to raise awareness of the Flint Water Crisis, perhaps owners instead should encourage patrons to donate to the United Way of Genesee County’s Flint Water Fund,” Tran said.
Regardless of motivation, the fact remains that Lakeville Brew Crew could, and likely will, profit from the sensitive issues its misguided names are supposed to “highlight.” For sure, the Brewers Association will not be impressed, after it announced measures to curb such offensive beer names last year. Just how craft beer drinkers will react remains to be seen.