World of Beer Bar & Kitchen, a popular American tavern chain with over 51 locations nationwide, has announced they will stop selling Yellow Belly beer, which comes packaged in a white hood with two eye holes.
The World of Beer location in West Hartford’s Blue Black Square in Connecticut received critical backlash online over the weekend after a server presented a Black man and white man with the Yellow Belly beer. The $40 craft brew arrived in its controversially decorated white paper bag, which strongly resembles a Ku Klux Klan hood.
Sharing a photo of the beer on Facebook, the Black man’s wife wrote, “This is the $40 bottle of beer that was presented to my husband and his white friend tonight at World of Beer,” and the post went viral. According to the Hartford Courant, managers from West Hartford’s World of Beer restaurant called the author’s husband to apologize. The woman was told that they were working to have the beer pulled from all World of Beer locations.
Erica Pitre-Davis posted about the white-hooded beer she saw come across her Facebook feed. Tagging World of Beer, she wrote, “I was so startled when an image from your establishment came across my news feed. I literally thought it was someone posting in support the KKK & I was perplexed, wondering who would do such a thing. Presenting this packaging to any customer, let alone a Black customer, is insensitive at best or just downright racist.”
While the critical comments piled on over the weekend, World of Beer offered up an official apology on Monday. “Please accept our apologies for the lapse in judgment in serving,” World of Beer said in a statement. “While we can’t speak for the intent of the brewer, the visual representation does not have a place at our establishment. We appreciate you bringing it to our attention and welcome the opportunity for discussion.”
Pitre-Davis found the apology came a little late. In response, she wrote, “I can’t believe that it took you almost 3 days to come up with this apology. Would you have served a beer wrapped up in a swastika if the brewer told you it was to spark discussion about antisemitism? No need to answer, we all know you would not.”
Yellow Belly’s Brewers Stand by Their Packaging & State It Represents ‘All Things Open-Minded’
Yellow Belly beer, an imperial stout which has been brewed at Buxton Brewery in the United Kingdom and Omnipollo in Sweden since 2014, stated on its website the beer is anti-racist.
“This beer is a collaborative effort together with our good friends—and world-class brewers—at Buxton Brewery (UK). Yellow Belly—a person who is without courage, fortitude, or nerve; a coward. To us, one of the most cowardly deeds is to act anonymously, hiding behind a group. A signifying trait of institutionalized racism.
“This beer is brewed to celebrate all things new, open-minded, and progressive,” the description continues. “A peanut butter biscuit stout with no biscuits, butter, or nuts. Taste, enjoy and don’t be prejudiced. Brewed with aromas.”
The creation of the beer happened during The Rainbow Project in 2014, a collaborative event that randomly paired seven British breweries with counterparts from around the world. Each team was assigned a color from the rainbow, and Buxton and Omnipollo got yellow.
Yellow Belly Beer Made Headlines in 2018, Not for Their White Hood Packaging but Due to a Trademark Dispute
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☠️UNBELIEVABLE😵. Forced to discontinue YELLOW BELLY (11%) after 5 yrs. Trademark lawyers🚪💥🕺🏾knocking down the door💆🏿♂️💆🏻♂️. Gutted. It’s been a wild ride over 50 countries🙏🏽thank you for making it happen. Furiously running with our BUXTON fam to put out the FINAL 2019 VINTAGE ”ceased and desisted” BATCH. Stay tuned for the next chapter…oh, and don’t be racist. @buxtonbrewery #omnipollo #beereverything
In 2018, Batemans Brewery, which is located in Lincolnshire and has produced a beer called ‘Yella Belly’ for over two decades, called out Yellow Belly’s brewers for copyright infringement. The trademark dispute was investigated by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), as reported by the BBC.
While Yellow Belly was forced to stop selling their vintage 2018 batch, but their Yellow Belly Sundae, Yellow Belly 2017 and Anniversary Coward are still available for sale.
Under the description for the Anniversary Coward, the brewers state on their website that the peanut butter, vanilla, chocolate chip cookie stout “commemorates the 5th year anniversary of the anti-racist manifestation that is yellow belly imperial stout. A beer brewed to celebrate all things new, open-minded, and progressive. We will always speak out against racism. Be the change you want to see (Gandhi). Never tired, always switched on (Duracell®). Youth will always win (Abloh), etc.”