Milwaukee Brewery Apologizes for Crowdsourced Rape Joke

Austin Ray

THE GIST 
Milwaukee’s MobCraft Brewing operates by crowdsourcing its beer, meaning drinkers vote for what the company brews based on recipes and beer names as submitted by other drinkers. This week, though, the company became a victim of its own design, when a beer dubbed “Date Grape” was elevated by popular vote. 

This, of course, inspired anger and derision from social media hordes and prompted an apology from company founder Henry Schwartz. In a note posted to Facebook, Schwartz explained that MobCraft unfortunately “did not have a process for screening names before the vote rounds started.”
 
“I feel horrible that this oversight happened, the beer name has been changed and we now have a process where our team vets names before they ever appear publicly,” Schwartz wrote. “We would Never [sic] promote rape culture as it is very serious issue never to be joked about. Again my apologies for this.”
 
The company added that it would donate proceeds from this weekend’s sales to an unspecified rape crisis center.

WHY IT MATTERS
On its face, this is somewhat different from the all-too-many instances of a craft brewer apologizing for one of the all-too-many grossly branded products that make it to market. For starters, it’s easier to view MobCraft through a more forgiving lens just by virtue of knowing this product wasn’t the company’s idea to begin with. And the brewery was quick to not only apologize, but to own the responsibility. In haste, a less considered response might’ve sought to shift the blame to the person who submitted the “joke.” But MobCraft didn’t do that, and for that, they deserve recognition.

That doesn’t mean they should be absolved entirely, though. MobCraft’s whole business model relies on input from strangers on the internet. As we all know, strangers on the internet can often be pretty terrible! So while we can appreciate the company’s response, it’s tough not to wonder, even with the benefit of hindsight, how it didn’t foresee that this type of abuse would be inherent to its own system. This is especially true considering how often trolls hijack online voting campaigns like MobCraft’s.

Regardless, the episode ultimately serves to support and reinforce the idea that craft beer is a sexist boy’s club. Because while Date Grape never made it to market, beers like Thong Remover, Happy Ending, PD (Panty Dropper), Raging Bitch, and so many more, have actually made it—and continue to make it—to the end consumer. That's a problem. If you’re a brewer, please read this, and think very critically going forward. Thank you.

—Dave Eisenberg

READ MORE
Brewer responds to protest about offensive beer name [Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel]
Formal Apology [MobCraft]