'Sexist' label gets Sweetwater beer booted from Chicago store

A Chicago store refuses to stock Sweetwater Brewing Co.'s Happy Ending stout because of the artwork on the label.

Credit: Hyosub Shin

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A Chicago store refuses to stock Sweetwater Brewing Co.'s Happy Ending stout because of the artwork on the label.

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Sweetwater Brewing Co. began distributing its beer in Chicago recently, but one label might not be easy to find.

Binny's Beverage Depot in Lincoln Park decided not to stock Sweetwater's Happy Ending imperial stout after employees said they found the label to be sexist and borderline racist, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The artwork on Happy Ending's bottles includes the silhouette of a geisha and a box of tissues.

"Why is that appropriate on a beer label?" asked Binny's beer manager, Adam Vavrick.

Vavrick sent back three cases of Happy Ending. SweetWater's Chicago distributor, Lakeshore Beverage, told the Tribune that no other store has refused to stock the beer.

Vavrick is not alone in his stance against sexist and racist beer labels, however.

Nbcchicago.com says the founder of metro Minneapolis craft beer retailer The Four Firkins, Jason Alvery, wrote about the same issue in a recent blog post. Alvery says he's had to pull "blatantly misogynistic" beers more than once.

Alvery pointed out that many craft breweries “seem to forget that their customer base is not exclusively 23-year-old-guys,” and even if it were, there are “plenty of 23-year-old guys who are mature enough to realize these labels are terrible."

And TimeOut Chicago's food blog addressed the issue of sexist labels last August, noting that "plenty of beers brewed in our backyard have sexist names or feature labels designed to appeal to one target demographic: men."

SweetWater founder Freddy Bensch told the Tribune he's received no complaints about the Happy Ending label until now. It was simply intended as a joke, he said.

"No harm was intended," Bensch told the newspaper. "We maybe didn't think this all the way through."

He told the Tribune the brewery would take corrective action, but didn't specify what that might be.

"We're going to be thoughtful about it and make it right," Bensch said.

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