In the years before I stopped drinking, I enjoyed many a Sexual Chocolate stout from Foothills Brewing. I remember when it came out, when it got its first big media moment on a CNN report about its annual release, when it hit.
I remember writing about the original label, which I loved: a tribute to Pam Grier and other strong, black women from the Blaxploitation era, with a subtle nod to the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America.
And I remember thinking a few years later, at the dawn of this era I’ve been calling the New Puritanism, that it was only a matter of time before one of my writers got offended by it.
I admitted to myself that it was an indefensible position: a company with white, male leadership tapping into an American taboo: the sexualization of strong, nubile, black women, commodified and sold to a market of predominantly white males. And I knew that young people — by which I mean people younger than I — have no cultural awareness of the Eddie Murphy film, which would soften their reaction somewhat.
Lauren Barber took the subject on in last year’s beer issue, saying, “The bottom line is that the Sexual Chocolate label art is racist and sexist and that Foothills — so often framed as a crowning glory in our community — can and should do better.”
And so, just in time for this year’s beer issue, they did.
In September, Foothills changed the recipe for its Sexual Chocolate, infusing the stout with coffee and aging it in bourbon barrels, and affixed it with a new label.
The new look foregoes African-American imagery in favor of a sudsy chalice of the brew. It’s tilted to activate the foamy suds, which take the form of… is that two women making out?
Whatever. Kudos go out to Foothills for the socially conscious change, though the official reason is the recipe change and the 15th anniversary of the brewery, which remains a solid institution in the Triad.
And it doesn’t matter whether I like it or not. I don’t drink beer anymore.