This weekend, a small Indiana brewery was generating tons of buzz in my social media feed—and not in a good way. The brewery-in-planning is called Lakeville Brew Crew, and a South Bend Tribune profile of the business mentioned some of the names of its forthcoming beers: Flint Michigan Tap Water, Black Beer Matters, White Guilt, and Mass Graves, to name a few. To summarize the reactions of many of the Midwest brewers I’m connected to on social media: “Fuck these guys.”
The Lakeville Brew Crew responds to criticism with the standard shitty defense of: We’re just bringing attention to these issues. Concerning the beer called Flint Michigan Tap Water, Lakeville Brew Crew co-owner Jon Duncan tells the South Bend Tribune: “…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. If I can bring some attention to that, whether it be negative attention toward me, it still brings attention to that issue.”
Yeah, except no.
These beer names not only make light of crises like Flint’s water contamination and the police brutality against which Black Lives Matter has mobilized, they make money off them. I’m don’t think donating a portion of profits to causes would make the beer names any more palatable, but not doing so means the brewery is co-opting vulnerable people’s suffering to sell beer. One brewer I’m friends with called it “disgusting” on Facebook. Another called it “shameful.”
To Lakeville Brew Crew, I say: if you don’t have the support of your fellow brewing community before you even open, my dudes, you are fucked. Small breweries are built on community support from both customers and from other local brewers. I struggled to find one supportive comment for the brewery among the hundreds left on friends’ Facebook posts—this doesn’t bode well for the forthcoming brewery’s beer sales. Many comments drew comparisons to Route 2 Brewing out of Lowell, Indiana, which brewed beer with names including Leg Spreader, Horny Hefer, and Psychotic Blonde, with label artwork to match. Route 2 closed earlier this year—and many see a similar fate for Lakeville Brew Crew and its Flint Michigan Tap Water: