I missed the launch event yesterday, but here's some more info on the new Iroquois Beer:
Earlier today and prior to our Iroquois Beer release event, we hosted a press conference at which we discussed much of what follows. Naively, we thought more of it would make it into local news broadcast segments and articles, but we were given the ten second news segment treatment. We'd like to share this and hope you'll read it and provide your feedback.
When we were first approached and asked to brew Iroquois Beer, we were honored to take on the brewing legacy of one of America’s historic regional breweries. The beer and its place in Buffalo's entrepreneurial and brewing history is unparalleled, its place in local culture is iconic.
At one point in time, Iroquois Brewing Company sold upwards of 40% of the total beer consumed in Buffalo. The company employed thousands and brewed millions of barrels of beer that were shared in family rooms and corner taverns throughout Western New York.
Beer is ingrained into the culture of this town and frankly, our city loves beer.
As a company, we believe that if we build community in everything we do, good things will happen. We seek to make the beer that you share as you discuss an idea, or catch up with an old friend, or to celebrate a special occasion. We think beer, especially local beer, can be a force for good and bring people together to celebrate what we have in common and discuss our differences. In person, not on the Internet. And at Community Beer Works we invest a significant amount of our time and resources into helping our neighbors in need, drawing broader attention to issues that affect them, and generally trying to do the right thing. Our progressive positions and support for our neighbors is a cornerstone of who we are as people and as a company.
Thus, while honored to brew this beer and reintroduce it to Buffalo and Western New York, we were also troubled by the legacy of stereotypical and appropriative imagery of indigenous people associated with the brand. Even the word Iroquois is considered offensive by many as it was a colonialist name given to the Haudenosaunee people by the French.
So, as a team, we decided to take steps to address this shameful past while looking to the future and celebrating the community and tavern culture that was often inspired by Iroquois Beer. We also realize this use of appropriative imagery in the brewing industry is not in the past. Local taverns and pubs are festooned with the legacy merchandise of Iroquois and other appropriative beer brands. We'll encourage and incent our local partners and customers to replace that legacy merchandise and consider the impact it has when displayed on a wall in a public establishment.
- We will not use imagery of indigenous people or appropriative cultural items in the marketing, promotion, or sale of this beer.
- Our focus will be on rebranding Iroquois Beer with the term “Have an Iri!” as part of our effort to distance ourselves from the past.
- CBW will offer both an online platform and host offline events for local indigenous organizations, activists, and allies to discuss how appropriation and stereotypical/racist imagery has harmed people over time. Stories are powerful and sharing them as a means to promote broader cultural understanding will be our focus.
- As a company, we will transparently gather constant feedback on our actions and actively encourage discussion about how we can collectively create a broader understanding of historic cultural inequities.
- We're still working out the final details, but we are committed to donating a portion of our proceeds to local indigenous rights organizations as a means to build community and show support for our neighbors.
Chris, Ethan, and the entire CBW Family