Brewery drops beer names after pressure from local organizations

A Midwestern brewery has decided to rebrand two of its products following a messaging strategy organized by the sanctioned chapter of the American Indian Movement True People of Indiana and Kentucky (AIMTPIK).

“We were informed in mid-January about the use of racist imagery and inappropriate names at the People’s Brewing Company,” said AIMTPIK co-director Rachel Thunder Local news online. “We launched a social media campaign that resulted in many people across the Indian country calling and writing to the brewery to see this shift and we have been pushing here at a local level.”

Mound Builder IPA has an image with a caricature of a brown indigenous man dressed with hops in his headdress and around his neck, with streaks of blue paint on his cheeks and holding a glass of beer. Amazon Princess IPA has a female caricature with hops on her arms and on a headband with a glass of beer in one hand and a spear in the other.

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“For too long our people have been stereotyped by racist images,” Thunder added. “These images are not only extremely disrespectful, but also harmful and dangerous to our communities. They mix our cultures and pretend we’re in the past – we’re still here.”

According to the company’s website, Mound Builder IPA has been in production since 2011. The product can be found on the Drizly website described as “American Style India Pale Ale”. We used an American base malt with the addition of caramalt to bring a reddish hue to this now classic style. Mound Builder includes aggressive use of Columbus hops, a high alpha hop with a full flavor profile, and Centennial hops.”

After a few days of initial contact, People’s Brewing Company responded to AIMTPIK, telling the organization that the company would immediately remove the images and rename the products.

“We will immediately begin removing these logos and reviewing all of our brand logos to ensure they align with our goals of promoting inclusion,” Chris Johnson, co-founder of People’s Brewing Company, said in an email Local news online. “We’ve learned a lot about the mistakes we’ve made by listening to the many people who have contacted us about these products recently.”

According to company co-founder Johnson, the company strives to bring people together around beer, make everyone feel welcome, and encourage inclusion through their products. Their branding reflects the goal of highlighting the historical importance of the region – the Midwest or Indiana. “We failed to recognize that these images are not culturally sensitive to current and past stereotypes, and that’s where we missed our mark,” Johnson said.

“We apologize and are grateful that these issues have been brought to our attention,” Johnson said of the company’s future. “We know we can do better.”

The People’s Brewing Company immediately made plans to remove all of the images, and due to the cost and size of the company, it will take a few months for the images to be completely removed. Amazon Princess IPA labels have been backordered without the cartoon, but once it sells out it will be discontinued for production. Labels without the cartoon for Mound Builder IPA were ordered, but until the company finds a new name it will continue to be sold under the same name.

“We’ll hopefully complete the rebrand before mid-year,” Johnson said of the rebranding effort. “Maybe earlier.”

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About the author

Author: Darren ThompsonE-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a freelance journalist based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, where he also contributes to Unicorn Riot, an alternative media publication. Thompson has covered political unrest, tribal sovereignty and indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to various Indigenous issues in international conversation for The New York Times, Washington Post and Voice of America. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and law from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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