Beer & Wine

J. Wakefield Collaboration With England's Cloudwater Turns Into a Lesson on How Not to Be Sexist UPDATED

Paul Jones of Cloudwater Brew Co. and Johnathan Wakefield of J. Wakefield Brewing.
Paul Jones of Cloudwater Brew Co. and Johnathan Wakefield of J. Wakefield Brewing. Photo by Rocco Riggio
When Johnathan Wakefield decided to team up with Paul Jones from Manchester, England's Cloudwater Brew Company on a few beers for the upcoming WakeFest event, neither brewmaster thought it would become a teaching lesson.

Wakefield and the Cloudwater co-owner met at RateBeer World's Best Beer Festival & Awards in Santa Rosa, California, last year and hit it off instantly.

Jones says making beer in Miami is very different from making it back home. "Modern beer hasn't been around as long as it has in the States, but we're definitely catching up," he explains. He adds that beermaking is more creative than ever. "It can be anything you want it to be: It can be art; it can be philosophy; it can be science. It's whatever we, as brewers, want to put out to the people."

The project received backlash from a London-based beer writer and certified cicerone, Melissa Cole, after Cloudwater tweeted about the collaboration. Cole replied on Twitter: "Great, could you have a word with them about this appalling sexist branding whilst you’re there then please?" Cole was referring to Wakefield's Orange Dreamsicle label, which depicts a woman wearing only thigh-high tube socks and underwear.
click to enlarge COURTESY OF J. WAKEFIELD
Courtesy of J. Wakefield
Wakefield changed the design for the label almost immediately and issued the following statement:
"We sincerely regret that we approved the Orange Dreamsicle Sour Ale label art and are replacing it with last year’s label art. We believe that the future of the craft beer movement is about inclusion and as such, we will take a long hard look at how our labels reflect our core beliefs. As fans of our beer know, our label art is derived from the world of comic book art which exaggerates the human form, both male and female. We realize that people’s sensibilities are changing and rightfully so. We apologize for not recognizing that this label would be offensive and sincerely desire to be part of the wave of change that is happening in the world and, more specifically, part of the evolution of craft beer that includes everyone who wishes to partake.”
Cloudwater's Jones also posted a statement on his brewery's blog: "We are a brewery serving an ever developing and diversifying community, both locally and globally, not only through our beer, but through our ideals, and our values. I am delighted to see J. Wakefield Brewing evolve following conversation that cut through to the core of our values today, and distance themselves from beer artwork that fails to wholly represent the care they otherwise live out in their daily work."

In an email to New Times, Cole states she was trying to make positive change by calling out Wakefield's depiction of a woman on the beer label. "The objectification of women, or anyone, in beer doesn’t help anyone, but because of the nature of society, it is particularly women that it impacts due to the way that we are constantly viewed through a sexualized lens, judged on our bodies and not on our abilities, and also that we are significantly more likely to be the victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence."

Update: A previous version of this story includes label art for the Wakefield/Cloudwater collaborative sour ale, Shelf Turds. New Times was informed today that the label, depicting the brewers reclining on shelves, will not be released. The Shelf Turds beer (with reworked label art), along with an IPA named Let's Get Murky, will be available at WakeFest and at J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood.

WakeFest Invitational. Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, February 17, at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-0371; manawynwood.com. Tickets cost $60 to $350 via jwakefieldbrewing.com.
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Haidar Hachem is a type 1 diabetic and cancer survivor who lives his life by running long distances (in Speedos) and drinking beer. He is a brewery/beer reviewer and is on his way to becoming Cicerone-certified. Cheers!
Contact: Haidar Hachem