A story in Borders Telegraph has a surprising story that religious leaders have demanded a Borders brewer withdraws one of its craft beers and issues an immediate apology.
Tweedbank’s Tempest Brewery has come under fire from an international Hindu organisation for its use of the Lord Ganesha image. As part of its limited edition beers the firm has used a colourful depiction of the religious deity on its India Pils beer.
But a group representing many of the world’s one billion Hindus believes the labelling is in bad taste.
Lord Ganesha, known as the remover of obstacles, is one of the most popular deities in the Hindu religion. The Universal Society of Hinduism, which is co-based in India and the USA, believes linking an alcoholic drink with a deity is disrespectful.
Rajan Zed, president of the Society, told us:
“We are urging Tempest Brewing Company to apologize and withdraw its Lord Ganesha image – it is highly inappropriate. “Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed. Moreover, linking Lord Ganesha with an alcoholic beverage was very disrespectful. Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled.”
Tempest Brewery was founded by Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn in 2010. And has gone on to win many business and brewing awards since relocating to Tweedbank from Kelso. Mr Meiklejohn was quick to apologise for any upset caused by his company.
He said: “Tempest Brewing Company as a company embraces equality and diversity therefore we are saddened to hear that our India Pils has caused upset within the Hindu Community and we would like to offer our apologies not only to Raja Zed but the wider community as well.
“We would like to assure those who are offended and upset that our artwork was not intended to cause offence and was chosen for its stand out colours.”
Creating an eye catching and engaging beer label is challenging in the best of times. And in the wild wild west of craft beer, often times the rush to be first or to be edgy can overstep bounds and offend. Smart beer marketers can learn from this example and avoid overt or specific religious imagery and wording or modify it so that it is more suggestive rather than explicit.