North Carolina still won't sell Polygamy Porter beer [Updated]

Photo: cglade, OkorokovaNatalya (iStock)

Update, August 15, 2019: The feud between Wasatch Brewery and the state of North Carolina continues. Fox 13 in Salt Lake City now reports that Wasatch’s appeal to have a ban lifted on its Polygamy Porter, over state concerns about the name’s celebration of an illegal practice, has been denied.

Wasatch co-COO Jon Lee disagrees with the ruling, and suggests that a follow-up lawsuit could be in the brewery’s future, given that (according to Lee) the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has approved other beers with “questionable” branding: “We’re a little disappointed we weren’t treated with the same level of care these others had. There could be some potential First Amendment infringement.” Supreme Court, here they come?

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Original story, July 12, 2019: Utah mainstay Wasatch Brewery has been turning out beer for over 30 years now, and among the more notable is the brewery’s Polygamy Porter. But while the beer has endured despite its titular fun at the expense of some of its home state’s cultural and religious traditions, its sale has been barred in another, clearly less well-humored corner of the United States.

Salt Lake City affiliate Fox 13 reports that in North Carolina, which was set to become the 21st state where the Polygamy Porter would be distributed, the name and label have been rejected by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. Their succinct reasoning? “Polygamy is illegal. Therefore these products will not be approved.” A statement made by the commission about the beer cites a statute declaring that “representing something illegal is undignified and in bad taste.”

While the scolds at the ABCC have refused to play along, Wasatch plans to appeal the ruling next month, given that they already sell other beers in North Carolina. Wasatch brewmaster Jon Lee, when asked about the dispute, offers a key reminder: “Beer is supposed to be fun, and we have a good time with it.” Hear, hear. In that spirit, we’d like to suggest the Buzzkill Bock, Serious Stout, and/or Wet Blanket Wheat for those who decided to make a state case out of a silly beer name.

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