Great Divide Brewing has made a wardrobe change. The female farmhand on the label of its Colette Farmhouse Ale has traded in her short skirt and stiletto heels for some work-appropriate pants a pair of sturdy boots.
It was a subtle change, but one that may resonate in the craft-beer industry, which has been seeing an ever-increasing number of female employees in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.
"It may seem trivial, but in an industry where females are still underrepresented, I do think the ladies of Great Divide — and many of the guys, too — appreciate the change," says brewery spokeswoman Shannon Berner, adding that most people probably won't even notice. "Colette is one of our top-volume brands, and she is the only female icon in the year-round lineup. Colette has to represent for the ladies."
There's been a lot of discussion in the industry over the past year about beer names and labels that many people see as overly sexualized, demeaning or sexist. The Brewers Association heightened the intensity of the debate in April when the Boulder trade group announced that it wouldn't allow breweries to use its logo on award-winning beer labels if the labels “contain sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning brand names, language, text, graphics, photos, video, or other images that reasonable adult consumers would find inappropriate...."
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Many people cheered the move, while others have decried it as been too politically correct and verging on censorship; Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland has been particularly outspoken, and resigned from the Brewers Association in July, calling the policy "nothing more than a thinly veiled side door to censorship."
Great Divide's label was a far cry from what most people are talking about when they bring up sexist labels — and the brewery has never used overt female sexualization as a sales tactic. But "when we were working on giving some current brands a packaging facelift, it seemed the perfect opportunity to give Colette a modern makeover," Berner explains. "We’ve never made her out to be a sex symbol — let’s be real, these are one-dimensional silhouettes, after all — but since we were working on the brand design anyway, I believed we could swap her ruffled skirt and heels for some boots and [pants] without taking away from her character.
"She still has the same iconic stance, pitchfork and hat. We just took the badass-lady level up a notch."