Flirting with Sexism
Despite a vaguely progressive aura, craft brewing has not eliminated sexism from beer marketing any more than Barack Obama's presidency buried American racism.
For proof of the latter, see Charlottesville, Va.
For proof of the former, see the new labels proposed by San Diego's Acoustic Ales.
Beth Demmon, a CityBeat columnist, was shocked when mockups of the labels surfaced on the brewery's Facebook page. San Diego Blonde featured a cartoon of a curvy babe in a bikini top; Shake Your Money Maker Nut Brown Ale, an orange-haired woman who flaunts both bust and derriere.
While the images have been removed from the Acoustic account, Demmon's still steamed.
"I truly can't believe that in 2017 we're still having this conversation," she wrote in a commentary for West Coaster, "as though there's some mystery as to what's sexist or not nowadays."
Later, Demmon noted she received plenty of support for her position, but some push-back. Why didn't she focus on the beer, critics wondered, or just go away?
"I wouldn't be raising this issue over and over,": she told me, "if it wasn't happening over and over."
Acoustic's response - you can read it and Demmon's critique here - boils down to a.) we're not trying to offend anyone, b.) we like this artist and c.) this doesn't reflect the brewery's values.
That's feeble. Also weak: 26 years after Old Milwaukee's Swedish Bikini Team ad, breweries still use sexualized images of women to hawk their wares. That says nothing about the beer - and everything about our retrograde Harvey Weinstein era.
As you might expect, many breweries offering to assist victims of recent wildfires are from towns near the conflagration raging in Napa and Sonoma counties. Benefit beers are being brewed by Russian River in Santa Rosa, Bear Republic in Healdsburg, St. Florian's in Windsor - I had to fetch an atlas to find that place; it's in central Sonoma County - and 101 North in Petaluma.
Also pitching in, although nowhere near the flames: Stone. The Escondido brewery is donating a portion of October's sales to Direct Relief, a nonprofit aiding California's Office of Emergency Services and other agencies.
Best of the Week, Local
Creative beers will blend with creative art when La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls festival (WoW) comes to Border X Brewery 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The brewery will host the "So Say We All" literary and performing arts troupe.
Border X, whose Mexican-influenced beers include a golden stout made with horchata, is at 2181 Logan Ave. in San Diego's Barrio Logan.
Kings of Beer
I've enjoyed plenty of fruity IPAs, but a recent visit to New York had me re-consider my affection and re-calculate the line between "good thing" and "too much of a good thing." For instance, the blood orange IPA from Long Island's Great South Bay brewery? Tasting like a mug of beery Tang, it landed with a thud in the "too much" category.
Back home, my West Coast taste buds rejoiced in Carlsbad's Burgeon Treevana IPA (7.2 percent alcohol by volume). The orange, mango and berry notes here are balanced by the malt base's buttered wheat toast flavors. Flaked oats softened the body a tad, without reducing it to a flabby wimp.
This week's King of Beer, Treevana may not be as exotic as its predecessor, No Güey! (6.5 percent), the Mexican-accented IPA from SouthNorte. But it's an expertly crafted beer that combines the bracing, hop-intensive virtues of the West Coast style with the fruity appeal of the best Eastern IPAs.
Messing with Texas?
A friend roaming a Dallas market's beer aisle snapped this photo. My first reaction? You don't mess with Texas (beer).
Further investigation revealed that this amber ale is brewed annually to coincide with the "Red River Shootout," the football game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns.
This year, the Sooners prevailed on the gridiron, 29-24. Across the Lone Star state. I imagine the pain of this loss was assuaged by a few six packs of Oklahoma Suks.