India Demands US Ambassador Apologize for Beer

By Chad Pilbeam | May 24, 2012 | 0 Comments |
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Few topics invoke passion like politics and religion.  This story has both.  And if you throw in a little beer, you have the makings of an international incident.

He’Brew “The Chosen Beer” from Shmaltz Brewing Company and Utah-based Wasatch’s Polygamy Porter (which encourages you to “take some home for the wives”) are no longer alone in the dubious distinction of upsetting religious groups with their beer names and labels.  Welcome to the group, Portland, OR Burnside Brewing, who last week sent a press release for Kali-Ma Beer; their slogan… “Come worship ‘the black one’ Kali as the ultimate reality or Brahman.”  As expected, the Hindu community was less than thrilled with the brand’s approach to marketing, prompting one Hindu statesman to publically condemn Burnside.

Wanting nothing to do with a “holy war” (pun intended), Burnside issued an apology and agreed to not release the beer.  As a result, the Hindu condemnation from the statesman was lifted, and peace was over the land (kumbaya)… until the upper house of the Parliament of India got their hands on it.

The Bharatiya Janata Party of India (that country’s most conservative and second largest) is demanding more be done.  A statement issued by the party is asking for a summons of the U.S. Ambassador to India to make him apologize for brewer’s attempt to market and distribute a product so insulting of their religion. 

It isn’t certain whether this will strain relations between the two countries or if it will even warrant a response, but the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs stated he would convey the concerns to the External Affairs Ministry. 

Brewers’ decisions to parody matters of faith have resulted in some rather notorious bi-lines in the press, most recently Te-Brew the Sunday Sipper from Bonfire Brewing (complete with the Tebow-ing silhouette).  If the result is gained recognition for the brand, “all publicity is good publicity” prevails, but now we have to worry about creating an incident.  And though it is unlikely we’ll war or even have our ambassador answer for this, Kali-Ma may have the claim of being the first beer since George Washington denounced British porter in preference of the colonists’ porter, to actually invoke rage from another nation’s government. 

How far this story goes is unknown, but certain is this… Burnsides travel plans to India are on indefinite hiatus.

Your Choice. Your Beer. Drink Up.
- Beer Universe

Chad Pilbeam is a staff writer for Beer Universe, you can follow him @beernbullcbo.

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