A Washington brewery has apologized and agreed to halt the release of its latest libations after a torrent of backlash over its Crips and Bloods-themed beers.
Mirage Beer, a Seattle-based company, took to social media on Sunday to announce the release of its newest India Pale Ale (IPA) beers, “Snitch Blood” and “Where You From,” which were packaged in cans designed to depict the red and blue bandannas worn by the rival Los Angeles gangs.
The company was quick to hit the delete button, however, later issuing a groveling apology after the craft beer community took it to task over the offensive advertising.
“F–k all the politeness — people have died over that sh-t you’re trying to use to be down & kool [sic],’ ” Beer Kulture, a marketing brand highlighting merger between beer and urban culture, wrote in response to the announcement.
“Mirage Beer… those new beers y’all are releasing is a dub,” it added. “Y’all are entitled, non creative Kulture vultures that deserves to fail, hard & fast.”
Many on social media echoed this sentiment and slammed Mirage Beer for it’s tone-deafness.
“This is not a game! What’s up with this?,” one Twitter user wrote. “Your intentions would be really nice to try to understand. This is serious shit for many people. You want to be cute? Sponsor a 3 on 3, or an art event in an inner city (and stay for the entire event).”
“Sheltered motherfuckers,” another chimed in. “People still die over colors. Won’t ever get my support; I think the best way to support is to take what you would spend on a pack of these and just give it direct to the foundation.”
One critic simply said, “This makes me profoundly sad.”
“Mirage is a perfect name because I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” wrote another.
In response, Mirage Beer owner Michael Dempster posted a brief apology on Instagram and promised to donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center and charities in communities affected by gang violence.
“I deeply regret the obvious element of appropriation, and further, that they trivialized the impact of gang violence on marginalized communities,” Dempster wrote in a more detailed post, thanking members of the beer community “for forcefully saying, ‘check your privilege.'”
“I’m embarrassed and ashamed to find myself here. I was blind, and stupid, and I wish I could take it back,” he added. “It breaks my heart that I’m the reason for anyone feeling less welcome in the craft beer community, and I’m sorry anyone had to waste any energy at all on me or my ignorant label ideas.”
In an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle, the brand owner confirmed that the offensive labels have been “destroyed.” Dempster said he plans to release the beers under new names and labels, and that the proceeds will go to organizations that help keep kids off the street.
“I hope to sponsor fundraisers for said charity(/ies) whenever I can, and be an active and vocal participant in the project of inclusivity in the craft beer industry,” he wrote in his apology letter. “I hope others can learn from my idiocy.”
Beverage brand Ounce Water faced similar backlash earlier this year after it tried selling its spring water in 40 oz. bottles that resembled malt liquor bottles.