The Response

The Daily News


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Heartland Brewery receives backlash for ‘racist’ sloganThe beerhouse is drawing criticism for its Bavarian Black Lager, which promises customers will become ‘a slave to the flavor.’ Several people, including Kristen John Foy of the National Action Network, say the slogan is racist and inappropriate.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Sunday, November 30, 2014
Heartland Brewery is drawing some bad buzz over a slogan that for many invokes slavery.The boneheaded beerhouse’s Bavarian Black Lager promises customers will become “a slave to the flavor” — sparking a brouhaha among customers who believe the seasonal suds’ saying smacks of racism.“It’s just wrong,” said one white patron as he stared up at the sign at the brewery chain’s Union Square location.“It’s actually crazy,” added a 42-year-old man who would only identify himself as Ryan.“There’s a better way to express what they’re trying to express without eliciting that mindset.”The beer slogan’s racist interpretation wasn’t lost on Ryan’s father-in-law.“I can see that people will find it offensive,” said the 70-year-old man, who only gave his first name as Russ. “It doesn’t bother me, but I can see that it will bother someone else.”The brewery has also been criticized on social media.“Hey a——-,” Drew Cerria wrote on the company’s Facebook page on Nov. 12. “In case you’re not aware, that’s totally racist and f—– up!”Kirsten John Foy of the National Action Network called the beer’s slogan “absolutely inappropriate, offensive and intentionally provocative.”“At a time when race relations are at the heart of the national and local discourse, Heartland Brewery has decided to evoke the pain and trauma of our nation’s most shameful and hateful legacy and use it as a cheap marketing ploy,” he said.At Heartland’s Midtown location, drinkers were stunned by the tasteless tease — once it was pointed out to them.“Now I feel bad that I didn’t recognize it before,” said Astoria resident Natalie King, 31, who is white. “I think these days people are immune to the word slave.”The dark, slightly bitter lager has ruby highlights, chocolate and caramel malts, and 6.5% alcohol. The glass it’s served in has a picture of a white dominatrix balancing a pint on a leather-clad submissive’s behind, hinting at a different explanation for the word “slave.”Employees said the Bavarian Black Lager has been part of the pub’s winter menu for years and is poured at all of its locations. The beer is tapped right after Halloween and is always served in the “slave” glasses, employees explained.No one has complained about it before, they said.
RICHARD HARBUS FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 

Heartland Brewery’s Bavarian Black Lager promises customers will become ‘a slave to the flavor.’

Joe Bloostein, owner of Heartland Brewery, said the “slave” reference “clearly refers” to the master-slave S&M scene on the glass, nothing more.

“Connecting the world ‘black’ in Bavarian Black Lager to black people is incredibly farfetched,” Bloostein said. “Alleging any connection to racism is ridiculous.”

“I really haven’t heard that about (the beer),” said Anna Anderson, the manager of the Union Square location, who is African-American.

Many black customers and employees shrugged off the questionable undertones.

“It’s a beer,” said Taryn Harris, 40. “I didn’t interpret it that way. People are slaves to whatever they like. They’re a slave to their addictions, be it food or sex. That’s how I interpreted it, as an addiction, not anything else.”

Maquino Sylvester, 21, a waiter at the Union Square location, also saw nothing wrong with the beer’s logo.

“It’s supposed to be something hot,” he said, looking at the picture. “I’m not offended, but I’m no racist. Why should we focus on black or white? We are all going to the same place one day.”

Source: (www.nydailynews.com)


Our Response


Tom,

 

Heartland’s Bavarian Black Lager beer and logo has been available in our restaurants for the past 15 years and we’ve heard no complaints to date until now. Our advertisements for the beer have been in numerous print media without a single complaint to date. Heartland has hundreds of African American employees who find the logo relevant to the beer and funny; again, no complaints.

 

People get the humor of the dominatrix scene and find it amusing, as it has been  intended to be. The logo includes a dominatrix and submissive or Master and Slave which is part of the S&M vernacular, and not racist. Both people in the S&M cartoon logo are white.  The image suggests our beer will win you over and that you will be a slave to the flavor.  The term “slave to the favor” clearly refers to the master / slave S&M scene.  Connecting the word  “black” in Bavarian Black Lager to black people is incredibly farfetched .  Alleging any connection to  racism  is ridiculous.

 

Regards,

Jon Bloostein


Jezebel.com


Oh hey, look: white people doing something dumb and insensitive about race. It must be any day of the week again.

This time it’s New York City’s Heartland Brewery, which serves a Bavarian Black Lager as a seasonal beer during the winter. That in and of itself is obviously fine — the problem is that the drink’s unique glasses (among other promotional materials) are emblazoned with the phrase “you’ll be a slave to the flavor.” Unsurprisingly and understandably, people are none too pleased with this:

Kirsten John Foy of the National Action Network called the beer’s slogan “absolutely inappropriate, offensive and intentionally provocative.”

“At a time when race relations are at the heart of the national and local discourse, Heartland Brewery has decided to evoke the pain and trauma of our nation’s most shameful and hateful legacy and use it as a cheap marketing ploy,” he said.
Given the picture on the glass of a dominatrix and a member of her clientele, it seems pretty clear Heartland’s intent wasn’t to refer to the African slave trade. Let’s just get that out of the way, not because it matters, but because you know full well people are going to start shouting it as if it does.

Look, it really doesn’t matter what Heartland’s intent was; if I accidentally punched someone while stretching my arms in a public park, then stubbornly refused to apologize and insisted I’d done nothing wrong because I didn’t intend to hit them, I’d be an asshole. The decent thing to do at this point would be for Heartland to say “Oops, we fucked up, we’re going to fix it, and we’re sorry.” Heartland, however, has decided to go in a different direction:

Joe Bloostein, owner of Heartland Brewery, said the “slave” reference “clearly refers” to the master-slave S&M scene on the glass, nothing more.

“Connecting the world ‘black’ in Bavarian Black Lager to black people is incredibly farfetched,” Bloostein said. “Alleging any connection to racism is ridiculous.”
Employees (of all races, it’s worth noting) also claim “no one has complained about it before,” which might be true, but race relations haven’t been at as much of a national fever pitch as they are now since at least the 90’s, if not earlier. That’s what happens when one cop doesn’t even have to stand trial for murdering an 18-year-old kid (thanks in part to blatantly unethical behavior on the part of the prosecuting attorney in the case), then two others decide to straight-up murder a 12-year-old with a toy gun, to say nothing of the hundreds of other victims of police violence. People are pissed, and they damn well have a right to be. You guys really didn’t think about the greater context here?

Come on, Joe. Don’t go full Dan Snyder with this. Change the glasses, because all you’re doing by huffing and puffing about the “ridiculousness” of the concerns of PoC is making yourself look like a dick. If you need to serve the beer in plain pint glasses because it’s too late to have new ones made, it’s still better than the alternative. It’s not going to lose you business to use plain pint glasses, but it very well could to dig in your heels and be as New York as possible about your boo-boo.

Source (kitchenette.jezebel.com)


Our Response


Heartland Brewery has been a New York establishment since 1995. We have had several core beer brands since inception including Farmer Jon’s Oatmeal Stout, Smiling Pumpkin Ale, Old Red Nose Holiday Ale and the recently-debated Bavarian Black Lager.

 

First and foremost, the Bavarian Black Lager is internationally recognized style of beer, also known as a Schwarzbier. It is a dark German-style lager made with roasted malts and slight hop bitterness.

 

The Bavarian Black Lager is a delicious, easy-drinking dark lager that leaves you wanting more – hence “you’ll be a slave to the flavor.”  This inspired the dominatrix and slave artwork in the logo. The Bavarian Black Lager being the dominatrix and we, the willing drinker, a slave to it’s addicting flavor.

 

Your suggestion that we are being insensitive about recent political and social events, given that this brand has been around for over 15 years without complaint is ludicrous 

 

Given the picture on the glass of a dominatrix and a member of her clientele, it seems pretty clear Heartland’s intent wasn’t to refer to the African slave trade.

 

We’re glad you agree.

Cheers,

Jon Bloostein


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