Sometimes a bit of writers block can be broken up by the simplest things. I had 3 or 4 different columns started that I hit a roadblock on before starting this one. Right now, I am wondering how smoothly and quickly this will go. I had no plans on sitting down to write this evening, I simply planned on having a bottle of one of my favorite beers and chilling out for the evening.
I pulled a 22 oz bottle of Avery’s The Kaiser Imperial Octoberfest from the fridge and realized just how offensive the label could be to too many people.
The label adorns a circa WWII German Officer in a spiked helmet in the center of the label. If this isn’t enough, the bottle is finished off with iron crosses. I have to stress that this bottle design has no references to Nazis. There are no swastikas or Nazi symbols anywhere. Still, the bottle art definitely gives off the chill of that dark era.
Why did Avery do this you ask? Without talking directly to Avery I would have to make the guess for pure shock factor. I have met and talked to Adam Avery quite a few times and you know what, he is a great guy. If he is racist in any way it would be a huge surprise to this black writer.
What I can say about Adam is that he is an offbeat guy that loves pushing things to the extreme. His beers are huge! Big and delicious and as extreme as his beers are, so are his labels… and beer names such as The Kaiser and The Beast, his Grand Cru.
Adam isn’t the only brewer in this name game. There are so many beers on the market with tongue in cheek references to body parts and sexual acts I don’t even want to list them. As far as the labels go, there are so many little printed “Easter eggs” you would be shocked, and overwhelmed, if I pointed out every one to you. The amount of jokes hidden in beer bottle art is amazing.
So I have to give Adam credit. He wanted to shock and he didn’t give us a mystic tongue-in-cheek name or some kind of cryptic picture on the label. He produced a German beer, then he named it The Kaiser… in your face, here is my beer. It’s certainly not another German beer with a beer wench on the label. Would it be my choice for bottle art? Hell no! Do I support Adams right to use this image? Hell yes!
Chew on this for a bit… Avery’s bottle art doesn’t glorify the German officer in anyway. It doesn’t specify if he is a good guy or a bad guy. It makes no political statement and picks no sides. So how can we be offended? The Kaiser could have walked away from the German army before WWII started, in protest of the horrors that were beginning to sprout up all over Germany pre-WWII. Some Germans, as they defected, even led Jews to safety. So who is the Kaiser? We will never know because all we have is this picture.
Even with all of that being said, I would imagine a Jewish person might be more offended by the label than I am. But then again, there are tons of products out there with the Stars and Bars on the label that offend me that many off you walk by every day and don’t give it a second thought. Bottom line is the beer inside the bottle is damn good, great if I dare say, and I am sure that the label has sparked many a conversation and definitely many a debate. I wouldn’t be surprised if Adam hasn’t even received an email or two about it.
Before you send your email, don’t forget the important thing here. The guy got us to think a little about something more than the score of the game while we drank our beer. If we don’t remember our past, we are doomed to repeat it. Someone once spoke those wise words… I think it was on Star Trek..
So Adam, nice try, but I am neither shocked nor offended, I am actually impressed with your great beer. Thanks for making me think a bit tonight about something a little deeper than a big-breasted beer wench.
Avery’s The Kaiser Imperial Octoberfest: The color is a brownish deep amber with touches of red. There is a huge malt aroma with faint touches of caramel and huge aromas of alcohol with fruit with touches of hops. The mouthfeel is heavy with a big splash of malt that is balance by a healthy dose of bittering hops. There is a big presence of alcohol on the exhale in a very enjoyable way. As the beer warms the fruit starts to become more noticeable and dance with the hops beautifully. This is definitely a nice fireside sipper.
– Bruce G. Owens, Jr.