As the craft beer industry continues to grow in the U.S., and companies strive to distinguish themselves in a flooded market, it was probably inevitable that sooner or later, a few would insert their feet into their mouths in grand, public fashion.
However, that still only goes so far in explaining precisely how and why a brewery could, say, get to releasing a gang-styled craft beer line presumably for the sake of “street cred” without anybody raising a red flag or five. Yet for Seattle-based Mirage Beer, the release of two new beers didn’t go according to plan over the holiday weekend:
“Snitch Blood” and “Where You From” were set to be the brewery’s two newest releases, and if you’re up on your American gang signifiers, you recognize that Mirage was planning to release a pair of Crips and Bloods beers, complete with rival bandana designs.
Needless to say, the above tweet from the black-run collective Beer Kulture, a member of which recently spoke with The Takeout, captures the general public response to the beers, which rang as both tasteless and as ignorant of the still-omnipresent gang violence in America that remains too frequently monetized by people from outside the communities affected. Almost immediately, Mirage cancelled the release.
For its part, Mirage has begun the work of apologizing for what was immediately tagged as reckless appropriation. First came a response via the company’s Instagram...
...and then, later, a more formal apology from Mirage owner Michael Dempster, which at least demonstrates an understanding of how bad this all was, and how much worse it could’ve been had the beers made it to release. Dempster notes that “they were cavalierly created in poor taste, and I feel awful that I hurt or angered anyone. I also want to thank members of the beer community for forcefully saying, ‘check your privilege,’ as I clearly needed that check. Your responses give me hope for this industry, and kept me from making an even bigger mistake: actually using those stupid labels and letting them hit shelves, where they could then hurt, anger, or disenfranchise anyone who passed them.”
As craft beer still struggles to confront racism and inequality, the situation with Mirage offers a reminder that when diversity fails to exist at every step of production, even the most seemingly obvious errors can slip through the cracks. After all, blind spots are known as such for a reason.