Indy Craft Beer Bar’s Social Media Post Sparks Online Firestorm

Indy Craft Beer Bar’s Social Media Post Sparks Online Firestorm

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Three posts on social media yesterday (March 25th) point out how difficult it is to try and predict what people will want to talk about with respect to craft beer and artisan spirits on any given day.

The first post was a description of the site and timing for 18th Street Brewery opening a taproom in Indianapolis. The mere fact that owner Drew Fox is opening a satellite operation here was exciting, but I thought the location might also bring some interest. It did. More than 300 reactions, 50 comments, and 70 shares later on Facebook alone, the story has still got legs. This one I predicted correctly, if still underestimating the magnitude of the response by a hefty margin.

The second story was a social media link to a story on a very unique artisan distilling product that is being debuted this week by Hard Truth Distilling. A rum aged for two years is rare, but to choose to do it in fresh charred white oak barrels is unique, especially given the high quality of the base rum. Hard Truth Hills is hosting a spirits pairing dinner on Thursday and a public bottle release on Friday (learn more about both here). This is not just a great idea for a product, but is it’s a really nice way to introduce it.

Is craft beer all about being social, or all about social media? image credit: Craft Brewing Business

The third post was a bit more difficult to predict. Perhaps it’s that the audiences across social media seem to thrive on interacting with the stories about aspects of current culture. The closer people get to a hot button issue, the more people are going to want to put in their two cents. It’s not good or bad, it just is, but whatever it is, I routinely underestimate it.

The expressed sentiment in question for this story was by The Sinking Ship, a craft beer and spirits bar in the SoBro part of Indianapolis (SEE THE FACEBOOK THREAD HERE – https://www.facebook.com/sinkingshipindy/photos/a.126078817414449/2257382520950724/?type=3&theater). (SEE THE INSTAGRAM POST HERE – https://www.instagram.com/p/BvcVYIMnj98/.) They put a post out about three names of recently offered beers – “Bitch Be Cool, “ “Wet Dreamsicle,” and “Smooth Criminal.” The Sinking Ship’s social media publisher expressed concern for what they thought were poorly chosen names, calling them “tone deaf and inappropriate.”

Sinking Ship posted that they were offered these beers by Pax Verum Brewing of Lapel, and besides not buying any of these, they wouldn’t be buying any more Pax Verum beers as long as they chose to use these types of names. It didn’t take long before the social media universe chose to become very vocal. I thought a few people would agree, a few would disagree, and that would be it. Twenty-four hours later, it’s still a hot topic of discussion.

Click on image for better view. image credit: Sinking Ship Facebook page

The beer name pictured in the Sinking Ship post was “Bitch Be Cool” which is a quote from the movie Pulp Fiction. They also referenced the “Smooth Criminal” name and suggested that people look up why it was inappropriate (a Michael Jackson song title). The third beer came in later in the comments section, as Sinking Ship continued to make its case that beers and their makers shouldn’t be supported.

Pax Verum replied that this was a quote from one of their favorite movies and they do not “condone sexist or derogatory behavior in any way,” and most commenters seemed to suggest Pax Verum not back down or be bullied. A brief survey of the comments (as of the time of this story being published) show that they run about 20-1 in favor of Pax Verum’s explanation, although most people didn’t really seem to need the explanation.

In fact, most comments weren’t about the beer names at all. Most people chose to point out that Sinking Ship lives a bit closer to the edge than the flat center of the cultural landscape and that perhaps they weren’t the best establishment to start calling out others for deemed infractions of decency. You can travel through the comment section for yourself (be sure to pack a snack) and read the many examples of what commenters call the “hypocrisy” of Sinking Ship’s position in this instance.

Nevertheless, Sinking Ship has held to its opinion and continued to expand on the premise that something is amiss with these names. Most respondents were not offended by Pax Verum’s names – and if truth be told, the publicity is probably going to help them sell a lot of beer.

In conclusion, while history shows that stories similar to these are often ignored by social media, some just seem to strike a chord and take on a life of their own. Some posts have what I would consider to be genuinely interesting and educational content and don’t draw near the reaction as other posts. It’s possible (more like undeniable) that some posts are meant to garner attention, and as they say, “Good or bad, just make sure you spell the name right.” Or is it, ”There’s no such thing as bad publicity?” Straight to this point, Indiana On Tap contacted Pax Verum this afternoon for comment and a representative of the brewery shared that, “The media attention has been incredible for us in the past 24 hours. Our social media followers and email list has grown and there’s been a ton of people visit the brewery who have never been here before simply to show their support for us.”

banner image credit: AER + marketing


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