Drunken Speculation

SEQBeers – All Inn Brewing Co

all inn brewing logoAll Inn Brewing Co managed to get brewing underway in mid-2013, around the time of the Queensland Homebrewing Conference. They fell off my radar shortly after but by the end of the year, their beers started popping up regularly around town.

The brewhouse in Brisbane’s mid-northern suburb of Banyo is reportedly quite popular and is slowly changing the beer purchasing decisions of the local workers. I haven’t been out there, partly because of its location and partly because of the following.

Branding

Whereas other breweries in SEQBeers have received a D when their beer’s identity wasn’t given a SEQ-wash, All Inn will be receiving flat-out fails for this component. Here’s why: I don’t like the way All Inn brand their beers. Neither does ammo. Neither does TheWestbender.

Each beer is given a sexy pin-up girl to be the anthropomorphism of the beer, which inevitably leads to incredibly clever double entendres from male consumers. It speaks of a time when women’s only role in the beer industry was to sell it with their tits and when men were stupid enough for that to work. I, personally, thought we had moved past that.

While it may not offend every woman, I don’t see the need to be crass to a whole gender for the purpose of selling beer. I could almost deal with it if this wasn’t one of the less disturbing examples of the way that women are portrayed by parts of the industry.

Or as Melissa Cole puts it more eloquently:

Beer is the most egalitarian of drinks, it’s the finest social lubricant around and the fact that big brands have marketed it in a way that is solely aimed at men, and so badly dumbed down their products in the process, has prevented whole swathes of women (and men) from discovering the amazing array of flavour experiences great beer can offer.

If beer is to move past its stereotypical image as the beverage of choice for the male blue collar worker and embrace its traditional role as a beverage for everyone, then it’s important to identify sexist or racist marketing imagery, lest such imagery convey the idea that the brewing industry is stuck fifty years in the past.

To wit, let’s look at the worst offender: Pocahontas American India Pale Ale. Described on the website as “Our probably politically incorrect play on words”, ostensibly, the beer was called Pocahontas to create the mildly racist pun of “Pocahontas American India[n]”. Compare the tap decal:

pocahontas

To the real Pocahontas:

414px-Pocahontas_by_Simon_van_de_Passe_1616

With the distance of four centuries and the impact of that Disney movie, most people probably have difficulty reconciling the fact that Pocahontas was once a real human being who had thoughts and feelings.

Pocahontas was a Powhatan Pamunkey – note, no traces of European heritage, so not particularly appropriate to depict her as white – who was born at the end of the sixteenth century, saved the life of an Englishman at twelve, was kidnapped by Europeans at eighteen, suffered an acute bout of Stockholm Syndrome, converted to Christianity and spent the last few years of her short life being paraded around Europe as an example of a “civilised savage”. She died of, likely, a pretty horrible disease at twenty-two.

The fact that Pocahontas, a woman who’s life was defined by European racists, is now depicted as a white 50s pin-up girl solely because it makes an unfunny pun creates so many levels of horrible irony, I can’t quite get to grips with it. This is why I don’t look favourably upon All Inn.

Now, to the beer itself:

all inn pocahontas ipaPocahontas American IPA

  • American IPA
  • 5.6%
  • Refreshment: C+
  • Identity: F
  • Taste: C
  • Ancillaries: C
  • SEQBeers Score: 48

I will admit that my previous Untappd check-ins for this beer have been very positive. 4-star positive.

However, this particular example tasted less pine-loaded hoppy and more toffee-based pale ale. It’s a bland but not unpleasant effort, which was served off tap at the Embassy after Fluid Festival. There’s a thin head and a slick body but it adds up to not much of anything.

We recently coined the term “invertebrate beer” to describe beers which have no discernible backbone, malt, hop or otherwise. This is a classic example.

all inn penny pale alePenny Pale Ale

  • American pale ale
  • 5%
  • Refreshment: C-
  • Identity: F
  • Taste: D
  • Ancillaries: C
  • SEQBeers Score: 35

Of the two beers named Penny in this town, this is certainly the lesser. I had this on tap at Newstead Brewing and was quite disappointed to be presented with an unattractive and flavourless drink. The NBCo glasses are etched to create nucleation points and the Penny pale ale was barely able to generate a head.

There isn’t much else to talk about. There was no aroma nor much in the way of flavour worth remembering. Perhaps it’s only saving grace is that it was served quite cold and in a tumbler, which is not the best glass for capturing aroma and flavour.

all inn elle australian pale aleElle Australian Pale Ale

  • Australian pale ale
  • 5.2%
  • Refreshment: C
  • Identity: F
  • Taste: C-
  • Ancillaries: B
  • SEQBeers Score: 44

An offering from Fluid Festival, the Elle OzPA certainly presents a better look than it’s companions, with a pale yellow colour and a decent head on it. The aroma is promising, with strong notes of paw paw. However, that ends on the sip with the Elle OzPA showing a soapy complexion underlining a rotting fruit flavour.

Maybe it’s not fair to judge a beer based on a festival sampler but if you make an Australian pale ale loaded with Galaxy hops, that’s entering Stone & Wood Pacific Ale territory and it’s not a battle few, if any, will be able to win.

I’m reasonably confident I’ve managed to divorce my distaste for the branding from my tasting of the beer, although the language obviously doesn’t reflect that. Maybe the significant change in how I perceive Pocahontas is proof that I haven’t. It would have been a nicer result if I was able to find some redemption in the quality of the product. While the Kala Black IPA comes with significant recommendations, with so many options in Brisbane I don’t see a need to step up and order a woman-beer.

Your mileage will vary.

8 comments

  1. Verity S

    I’m assuming that you’re trying to replicate the amount of traffic that young Jacky gained through his tirade of a blog post a while back? Or, at the very least, jump on the back of his blog post’s success?! I’d be keen to bet that you have never even spoken face to face with Harley. Having been within what must have been a metre of him at the Fluid festival, I will also lay a wager that you never introduced yourself to him??! Slightly gutless to ‘hide’ behind a blog post without having met him don’t you think? I realise that you, and all other Bloggers, are entitled to your opinion but you really are in a minority where All Inn is concerned. Do you think that bars across town would tap their beers if the people running the venues also found them sexist, racist or demeaning? Do you think that All Inn would be at full capacity all of the time if people actually agreed with your narrowminded views?! I have only been out to the brewery once as I live too far south to visit regularly but I was amazed to see what Harley has done for the community out there. I have spoken to at least 50 females of all ages since Jacky’s blog was written and not one (NOT ONE) found Harley’s decals to be offensive. Please do not forget that QLD has an uphill battle on its hands to convince the fools that drink XXXX to move into locally produced craft beer – striking local businesses below the belt, online, behind the veil of a blog does not help.

    • “Do you think that bars across town would tap their beers if the people running the venues also found them sexist, racist or demeaning?”

      Because our society doesn’t put up with anything sexist, racist or demeaning at all. That’s why there’s nothing sexist, racist or demeaning anywhere in our society.

      “If beer is to move past its stereotypical image as the beverage of choice for the male blue collar worker and embrace its traditional role as a beverage for everyone, then it’s important to identify sexist or racist marketing imagery, lest such imagery convey the idea that the brewing industry is stuck fifty years in the past.”

      Great point, Liam. There’s way too much sexist and macho bullshit in the brewing industry and sadly the craft beer world isn’t very different.

    • Thanks for your interest in Drunken Speculation, Verity. As you’ve noted, I’m entitled to my opinion, as you are to yours. Nowhere does it say that we have to agree. Or, for that matter, that anyone is right. Whether 50 women were or weren’t offended isn’t really the point, as I thought I’d made clear, and I suspect the reasons bars across town continue to tap All Inn beers is because it makes them money.

      While we were at Fluid Festival, I didn’t see Harley there and, as you would know, he is a distinctive character. If you read deeper into the blog, you will see I spoke to him at the Homebrewing Conference when All Inn was so new that I hadn’t really formed any opinions.

      As for traffic, If you speak to Jack about his post, I doubt he’d class it a “success”. Personally, I’d be quite happy if no one read this post but its too late and someone has decided to share it for whatever reason, probably because they want to work themselves up into a proper frothing rage over some idiot blogger’s opinions.

      The reason for the post, as I’m sure you were aware before writing your comment, is that I’m part way through a series on south-east Queensland breweries, which for better or worse includes All Inn. I don’t see a reason to exclude All Inn nor why I should modify my opinion to placate their fans.

      Ultimately, if something is entered into the public sphere, whether it be a beer or a blog post, then it is fair game for criticism. I have done my best to play the brewery, and not the man, and I hope people who decide to comment on this will do the same.

  2. Noah Hallaway

    would like to mention something that has been bugging me. Bloggers. Specifically thewestbender.com and drunkenspeculation.com. I ask that my minions go to these two sites and search for All Inn Brewing. Read the post. Place comments on the post that you deem appropriate. And for the writers of these two blogs, I invite you to Cartel for Brewsvegas so that you may meet Harley and ourselves. We will be serving All Inn All Week. Be sure to identify yourselves so that we can have an honest and frank disscusion about what everyone else thinks about All Inns labels and beer.

    • Hi Noah. Your offer sounds slightly ominous. May I ask what your interest is? Do you work for All Inn/Cartel?

      It’s also funny how we’ve had a small spike in hits (some on this post, some not). I haven’t and won’t publicise this on social media, so I assume most of the hits are coming from said “minions” (your word, not mine). You guys are bringing more attention to this than I am.

      While I don’t think a healthy discourse on the issue can be achieved with a brewery throwing their weight around with their apparent legions of fans stomping on any bloggers who step out of line with a contrary position but I’m happy to be corrected.

      [EDIT: last paragraph, multiple times]

  3. Noah Hallaway

    Hi Liam. I own Cartel and have been promoting craft beer in Brisbane on a commercial level longer than most other bars. In the over 3 years we have been open we have seen such a huge growth in the craft beer market. I invited you to meet with us so that you can see that your view on All Inn is quite wrong. They have an amazing range of beers and have a loyal following. My minions are my friends and customers who do not sit by and watch while a small local producer gets bashed by someone who doesn’t take the time to actually meet the people involved in the process. My opinion is respected because I know the producers and know the beers inside and out. Not once has anyone complained about sexism due to a tap decal or label. Pin up art and the rockabilly subculture are now part of the mainstream consciousness. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself a bit more on what is actually happening in this industry before you strike out at someone trying to make a living. And once again, please come down to the bar and meet all of us so that we can have an open discourse on this topic. I am sure you will have your mind changed by seeing what actually goes on in a bar.

    • Noah, you’re constructing a strawman here. The post doesn’t address Harley’s character but rather discusses the All Inn product. I agree it would be unfair to slag Harley off without having met him which is why the argument I’ve constructed is built on a) targeting the product and branding, which is in the public arena, and b) using publicly verifiable facts to build my case.

      If I had to meet every brewer to be allowed by the industry clique to have an opinion of a beer I’ve spent my hard earned dollars to buy, I’d not only reduce my capacity for objective criticism considerably but also never have the time to hand out the kudos that those putting out quality stuff deserve. The problem is that brewers/venue owners/etc are happy to ride the free blogging publicity train when it’s positive but if someone offers an alternative or critical point of view, then they come down like a ton of bricks. Never mind the consumer who may have never given the alternative point of view any consideration but, when presented with it, actually finds it persuasive – that’s bad for business.

      Of course, if this is how you respond to criticism, then its hardly surprising that people don’t come up to complain.

      The fact that you disagree is fine in itself. I don’t believe my opinion is the be-all-end-all on the matter, which is why you and everyone else has been given free reign to assert your position. Ultimately, the punters now have both sides of the argument and are intelligent enough to make up their own minds.

  4. Brad

    I could not disagree with you more. This artwork is not a parody of women, with disproportionate, comic-book figures. They are not displayed in demeaning positions or situations. They are not doing housework like a ‘traditional’ ‘50s pin up, or shown as submissive to men. They are classically beautiful and realistic in their looks. Their clothing is not gratuitously revealing, it is elegantly and respectfully fun. Who says women don’t have the right to be portrayed in this way? This is celebration, not exploitation.

    To say that a Native American is only a Native American if they have dark skin is offensive. You will find plenty of persons with Indigenous Australian heritage in West End with lighter skin and blue eyes, and saying that they are not Indigenous Australians because they aren’t ‘black’ would be as racist and uneducated as saying a lighter skinned person cannot be a positive portrayal of a Native American. In line with this, I also don’t believe the name Pocahontas is now forever off-limits to humanity except for a 400-year old person or when referring to a stereotypical Native American. By your logic it would be inappropriate to name a beer (or a person for that matter) ‘Michelangelo’ unless they were a bearded Italian holding a paintbrush. I think pigeonholing a name to a stereotypical description and is the racist thinking.

    The girl on this label is not shown in a manner disrespectful to Native American culture, she is picking a flower wearing Native American clothing, not smoking a ‘peace pipe’ or throwing a tomahawk.

    The artist is clearly very talented and should be congratulated for not giving in to drawing a sexist, offensive, inaccurate portrayal of a ‘beer girl’ that we do see far too much in this day and age, but instead has created women who appear powerful, confident and a celebration of graceful beauty. Well done!

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