Top 6 Controversial Beer Labels That Caused Quite a ‘Brew

Top 6 Controversial Beer Labels That Caused Quite a ‘Brew

There’s no such thing as bad PR, right? At least that’s one school of thought. There are those who bank on the big, the bold, and the controversial as a great way to grab attention and build up a brand. Others think courting controversy is a little too tacky and draws the wrong kind of attention.

When it comes to beer labels, companies have come up with some pretty, um, interesting approaches to grabbing attention and generating a bit of PR buzz. Well-intentioned or not, some of these label designs have landed more than a few companies in some pretty hot water. And you’ll see why when you check out the labels below. 


Beer Labels Gone Wild

It seems a lot of these label designs were made to appeal to a less than an emotionally mature audience. And a mostly male one at that. From implied to overt, the sexism here is stronger than the bite of a Double IPA.


1. Bud Light’s Predatory Hashtag

Nothing says cold brews and good times like removing consent, right?


Bud Light’s attempt to cash in on the #UpForWhatever trend crashed and burned. “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary” was short-sighted at best and downright predatory at worst. #NoThanks


2. Clown Shoes Tramping Around

Two examples in and a theme already seem to be emerging.


While we can’t know for sure exactly what goes on in the room when these naming decisions are made (though I’d love to be a fly on the wall), it kind of seems like these breweries are aiming at a very specific customer target - namely anyone who likes to throw the word “tramp” around when talking about women. The company took some flack, but the label is still alive and well.


3. “Why have just one!”

Wasatch Brewery is from Utah, where it wasn’t even legal to make beer until the mid-’80s.


The label of their Polygamy Porter pokes fun at the Mormon religion that had kept beer, breweries, and bars out of the state for so long. It’s a safe bet Utah’s faithful were less than pleased with the design, but it doesn’t seem to have affected Wasatch’s overall popularity. 


4. That’s One Big Rooster

Compared to some other labels, Hoyne Brewing Co.’s Big Cock Bock seems only mildly controversial.


Still, beer drinkers don’t all have the sense of humor of a thirteen-year-old boy. The company eventually changed the label simply to Big Bock and changed the rooster from the original label design to a chicken.


5. The Gandhi-Bot

Gandhi was, among other things, staunchly against the consumption of alcohol. So what better way to, um, pay your respects?


Yet, when the label was called into question, that is exactly what New England Brewing Company claimed to be doing with this label. And maybe they actually mean it, tone-deaf as the attempt may be. But, still: Why is he a robot?


6. Lost Abbey’s “Wicked” Witch?

Call me crazy, but a label with a woman being burned alive just doesn’t make me want to pop that top and enjoy a nice cold brew.


The Lost Abbey label was successfully lobbied against by some actual witches who took offense. ‘Which’ is understandable, but really, anyone with good sense should be offended by the image of someone being immolated.

Courting Controversy

All jokes aside, there are probably better ways to grab attention. Custom beer labels that truly stand out - without causing offense or courting controversy – rely far more on strong branding and design than just shock value. Sure, a questionable label can get some buzz going around your brew, but is that really the kind of attention you want?


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