A Charleston, South Carolina brewing company is facing a sea of criticism after naming their beer “Gullah Cream Ale” in reference to the Gullah Geechee community.
The Revelry Brewing Company said their beer is a tribute to the rich Gullah Geechee culture. However, critics accused the company of cultural appropriation. The company won awards for its beer at the U.S. Open Beer Championships. The name is a tribute primarily because the owners use local ingredients.
According to Charleston’s WCBD News 2, residents who identify as Gullah Geechee fear the company will get rich while the Gullah Geechee community continues to struggle.
“We talk about the mascotification of a culture,” resident KJ Kearney tells reporters. “[It] hasn’t worked out too well for Native Americans and my fear is that this beer is a step in that direction.”
But there are detractors who do not share Kearney’s sentiments. The company met with the executive director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, Dr. J. Herman Blake before canning the beer.
“The word Gullah is not owned by anybody,” Blake explains. “I was impressed with those young men,” said Blake. “I think they are sincere, have good intentions, and I respect that.”
The company has donated distribution sales to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. In addition, the brewery hands out pamphlets when people purchase the item.
“It’s kind of a sense of pride with it to be so young and to be able to represent Charleston in this way,” Revelry Brewing Company co-owner Sean Fleming says. “It wasn’t until we decided to put it into a can that it created a little bit of controversy. It’s so easy to change a name to turn the conversation,” said Fleming. “It’s our way of respecting and honoring the culture.”