I was at Beermongers about a month ago and saw that Hop Valley had a beer on tap called "Mouth Raper IPA." I had always known that beer as "MR IPA" or "Mr. IPA," but apparently the real name is--according to the bartenders there at Beermongers--Mouth Raper. That's what it says on the keg and that's what it says on the bill of lading (according to said bartenders).
enough evidence to confirm that this is the real name of the beer. I think it's pretty clear that the brewery gets how controversial it is, which is why it was so hard to track down in the first place. To answer Oregone's question--yes, it is totally inappropriate and insensitive. Undeniably.* Given that this is a brewery with a beer called Double D Blonde, they probably need to pay special attention to the way they think about and depict women. (And here's a handy rule of thumb: if you would be uncomfortable explaining the name of a beer to your seven-year-old daughter, maybe it's not a good name.)I sent Hop Valley a tweet asking them to verify the name, but received no response. In hindsight, I think my tweet was more accusatory instead of inquisitive, but the fact is they never responded.@HopValley seriously? Mouth Raper IPA? Inappropriate, insensitive, stupid. I expect better from local breweries. Don't be douche-bros.
— oregone (@oregone) December 21, 2013
So my question is as follows: Am I right in thinking this is totally inappropriate and insensitive? Are Oregon craft brewers past the point the where they have to be crass or tasteless when naming their beers?
On the other hand, I think it's worth acknowledging that we don't want to got too far down Outrage road. Although Mouth Raper is an incredibly boneheaded name, you can see how they got there. Trying to communicate the sense of hop intensity, they used a term without thinkinh about how wildly offensive it would be to many people. In some cases, breweries use provocative names to drum up press, and sometimes they use them because they don't realize how provocative they'll be. Back-of-the-envelope math puts the number of US beers somewhere in the 30,000 to 50,000 range. Some of those are going to have ill-conceived names.
What should you do when you inadvertently learn you've used a racist, sexist, or religiously offensive name for your beer? Dump the name and apologize. What should we as beer drinkers do when a brewery dumps an offensive name and apologizes? Accept it and move on.
As to Mouth Raper: the ball's in your court, Hop Valley.
*I could devote an entire blog to the hermeneutics of offensive speech. Indeed, I suspect there are hundreds already in existence. Discussions about offensive speech generally lead to bad place and hurt feelings, so you'll pardon me while I skip the "why" part of the rape-is-offensive post. Think of your mothers, sisters, and daughters when you consider the term. If you want to think very deeply about offensive speech, start reading Ta Nahisi Coates. This article isn't a terrible place to start.
Update: No, not about Hop Valley. I finally got around to reading this post and realized (again!) that it needed a light edit. I promise to learn. But of course, I've been promising that for years.