Thursday, February 19, 2009

Off The Menu: Hop Obama Ale

In a new wave of post-election crackdowns on using Barack'simage to sell products, Brooklyn-based brewery Sixpoint Craft Ales, which created Hop Obama Ale during Election Season, will no longer be selling the brew, according to The Brooklyn Paper (above, Sixpoint owner Shane Welxh pours some of the brew). Brooklyn Paper's Ben Muessig and Gersh Kuntzman explain the demise of Hop Obama:

Federal agents have ordered a Red Hook brewery to stop making its popular “HopObama” ale ....The cease-and-desist order was issued by the Tax and Trade Bureau of thefederal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on the grounds that Sixpoint Craft Ales did not have permission from to use the president’s likeness...

Sixpoint did have a label approval us for the product — but we realized that it was approved in error,” said TTB spokesman ArtResnick. “When we realized it [in December], we contacted them and they agreed to surrender the license. End of story.”

In an introductory post on their website, Sixpoint described Hop Obama: 

In keeping with the Illinois senator's unifying theme, the Hop Obama is an entirely unique ale that doesn't adhere to traditional style guidelines....Fused from an incredibly diverse background...we believe the delicious and refreshing quality it represents reminds us of the Senator's successful grassroots campaign that positively blossoms each and every day.

But wait, it's no foam offanyone's head: Sixpointspokesman Jeff Gorlechenclarified the cease and desist order for Gothamist: "This whole thing has gotten blown out of proportion."

Gorlechen said that the Hop Obama brew ran afoul of the law not because it was named after the President, but because it was named after a celebrity, which is illegal since it can be misinterpreted as an endorsement.

"We wouldn't have been able to name it after Scarlett Johansson, either," said Gorlechen.

The limited edition Hop Obama was so popular that Sixpoint has not ruled out bringing it back with a different name, although we're guessing it won't be named Michelle, Malia, or Sasha. The real kicker? The ale was frequently sold at fundraisers for Barack, and thousands of people bought it because portions of the proceeds were being donated to the Obama campaign. Grass roots gets the boot! (Pic: A historic glass of Hop Obama, from our pal Jill at La Vida Locavore, who campaigned heavily for Barack...)

And in case you're worried, the Feds have yet to pay a visit to our pal Sam Chapple-Sokol, the microbrewer who created bothThe Audacity of Hops and The Audacity of HopsInaugurale. Sam's brewing hasn't yet turned into a profit-makingenterprise, so he's not being harassed by Feds who are worried that he might be making money from lovinBam too much.

*More here, including an excerpt from a message Sixpoint owner Shane Welch sent out to Facebook friends about the "raid."....

*H/T to Daniel from WHOFarm. Shane Welch pic from New York Times. Obama star pic from cecily7.

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