Chalk this one up to a major translation issue.
Alberta’s Hell’s Basement Brewery finds themselves in the news this past week, for something completely embarrassing. Turns out, the brewery’s top selling beer, a New Zealand hopped pale ale has been hiding an unintentional secret. Named “Huruhuru”, the original intent was that the name would represent the Māori word for feather or fur. While technically accurate, that’s not exactly the way the term is used as part of the Māori language.
Hamua Nikora, a Māori from Wellington, New Zealand commented on both the brewery, and New Zealand based leather shop’s social media to politely let them know that the word is actually used to reference public hair; not exactly something that you want to evoke while drinking a craft beer.
After being informed of the issue, Hell’s Basement Brewery owner Mike Patriquin told CNN he supported all “forms of culture” and did not intend to offend. He added that they had interpreted the meaning of the word to be “feather,” but was now aware of its other meanings and acknowledged he should have consulted a Māori representative on the name.
“We wish to make especially clear that it was not our intent to infringe upon, appropriate, or offend the Māori culture or people in any way; to those who feel disrespected, we apologize.”
While this is clearly a blunder on the part of the brewery, and is an easy fix, it also brings up some conversations around how breweries use cultural appropriation to sell their products.
This is not the first time that New Zealand inspired beers have come under fire for misusing Māori culture. Over the years, several breweries have been chastised for using inappropriate or racist images for their craft beer.
Then there was an “anti-racist” beer cloaked in a KKK inspired wrapper…
An Australian brewery named after colonialism….
The long, and I mean long, history of racism at Founders Brewing…
The list goes on and on.
Fortunately it’s not all bad news. Breweries have started to wake up to the impact they have on the broader society. One exceptional example is the Black Is Beautiful movement. This initiative is a collaborative effort amongst the brewing community and its customers, in an attempt to bring awareness to the injustices that many people of colour face daily.
Things can get better, we all just need to be a little more aware of where we’re pulling our inspirations from and how we address culture and race in our beer.