Food Trends

Brewery apologizes for 'Date Grape' beer, admits rape culture isn't funny

A Milkwaukee beer maker known for crowdsourcing new brews is rethinking its policy after a beer named for a sexual assault reference became a finalist in its latest online competition. 

Henry Schwartz, the CEO of MobCraft brewery, apologized Tuesday after a user-submitted beer idea called “Date Grape” became a finalist for one of the brewery’s new beverages.

The craft brewery, which opened this year, allows fans to vote on new beer recipes and names each month. Previous winners have included Hop Cobbler-- an ale spiced with apple and cinnamon-- and a blueberry-spiked wheat beer called Breakfast Waffle. But this month, the crowdsourcing process took a different turn when Jeremy Bergener submitted an idea for a beer made with grape juice and dates. He called the concoction "Date Grape," and it became one of December's eight finalists. 

After the name was submitted, MobCraft temporarily changed the controversial name to “Dates & Grapes,” but many people weren't happy with the idea of making light of date rape in any way, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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"You shouldn't need a formal process to realize that a name is offensive," Robyn Klinge, the founder of Madison's Craft Beer Week and the group Females Enjoying Microbrews, told the paper.

"I wonder if it's something that just doesn't occur to men and in most breweries it's kind of men running the show."

MobCraft co-founder Andrew Gierczak admitted that workers at the brewery don’t always look at the recipe names before putting them up for a vote on the site. Gierczak says he normally sorts through the recipes to see what's been submitted and then begins building the beer.

“There was no stopgap in place,” he told the Journal Sentinel. “Everybody's slammed doing work on stuff and didn't notice.”

But many noticed the casual reference to sexual assault with some calling the name "disgusting" while others complained directly to the brewery. 

On Tuesday, Schwartz made the decision to pull the recipe out of this month's contest and issued a public apology via Facebook and Twitter.

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“Our monthly votes let people submit ideas for the beers; we did not have a process for screening names before the vote rounds started,” Schwartz posted. 

“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. We would never promote rape culture as it is a very serious issue, never to be joked about. Again my deepest apologies for this.”

Several Facebook users thanked the brewery for removing the controversial beer in a timely manner. On Wednesday, the brewery announced that in light of its mistake, it would be "donating a percentage of all sales this Saturday in the taproom to a rape crisis center in Milwaukee."