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Are Clown Shoes' labels offensive?

Posted by Steve Greenlee  July 5, 2011 04:52 PM

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An entertaining debate is raging right now over at over the labels that Clown Shoes puts on its beer bottles. A forum message -- posted by one of the people who runs the Cambridge-based Beer Advocate -- argues that the labels used by North Shore brewer Clown Shoes are alternately sexist, racist, and overly risque.

"I have been trying to hold my breath about Clownshoes [sic] for a while, but I think today I can officially say that I am done with these beers," the post begins. It goes on to describe the label as "tacky," "borderline sexist or racist," and "classless."

The post has prompted 275 300 350 replies (update: the thread has been locked), quite a few of which are unfriendly toward Beer Advocate's management -- which is something of a rarity among the website's users.

In lieu of posting a response on, Clown Shoes issued a tongue-in-cheek statement this evening that read, in part:

We are sorry for forcing everyone to have to endure the huge amounts of physical and psychological trauma we have caused by putting pictures of robots and cartoon women on our beer labels. God forbid you manage to actually open the bottle after seeing the horribly offensive labels because, as we all know, beers with an average rating of B+ are not even that good and shouldn't be drank by anyone...

As a result of this PR fiasco, we have fired every person on our design team, without severance, and submitted their names to a FBI watch list for people who have terrible senses of humor. We will be replacing them with unemployed accountants, all of whom we have screened to ensure that they have no sense of humor whatsoever and will not go "outside the box" when designing new packaging.

We are also making some changes to our existing line-up of beers:

* Brown Angel will now be called "Colorless Angel"

* Eagle Claw Fist will be renamed "Non-Descriptive Bird Appendage Fist" to avoid any further offense to eagles or claws

* HoppyFeet will be changed to "Opaque IPA"

* Tramp Stamp will be renamed "Lower Back Tattoo" to avoid any conflicts with the NAWWRGTS (National Association of Women Who Regret Getting Tramp Stamps)

* Lubrication will be renamed "Slippery Petroleum Byproduct"...

Meanwhile, here are the supposedly offending labels. What do you think? Are they offensive? Post your thoughts in the comments section.clown1.jpg


Gary Dzen

About 99 Bottles

Gary Dzen writes about craft beer here and in the Globe when he's not covering the Celtics for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.

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