November 8th, 2006

A great beer fest, a stupid beer fest guide

As usual, BeerAdvocate and the Weekly Dig (with the help of the Harpoon Brewery) did a great job setting up the Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, which took place October 27-28 at the Boston Center for the Arts (aka “the Cyclorama”). I went to the Saturday night session and tasted some absolutely delicious, unique brews. I spent about half the evening camped out near the Shelton Brothers‘ table. The brothers, Dan and Will, were serving really incredible, esoteric farmhouse ales from Belgium and France. I also sampled some good stuff from U.S. breweries, including a terrific saison from the Southampton Publick House.

Belgian Beer Fest Devil GirlNow, I can’t say enough good things about the guys who run BeerAdvocate, Todd and Jason Alstrom (they’re on my “Best drink web sites” page). They have done a lot to make Boston a great beer city — with their site, their column in the Weekly Dig, and their beer fests at the BCA. But the cover they chose for the Return of the Belgian Beer Fest guide? A nude model holding aloft a glass of beer? Have they secretly been drinking Coors? This is how they describe the thinking behind the image:

“For those of you familiar with Boston’s Weekly Dig, you might recognize this immediately. Designed by Tak Toyoshima, the Devil Girl has been a mascot of sorts for the Dig since its beginning … Others might recognize the Devil Girl when it was licensed and adapted for use with Dann Paquette’s original Rapscallion beer line … We thought how cool would it be to have an actual model pose in the exact same manner as the Devil Girl for the guide cover? This is what Tak created … Our best cover to-date! Yes, that’s an actual person. The ‘model’ will be at the fest (the Dig’s booth) if anyone wants to get their guide signed.”

Oooh, sign my guide, Devil Girl!

The ‘model’ (I guess she didn’t want her name mentioned on was photographed against a red background, but a “Devil Girl?” — she didn’t exactly have a tail or horns. I’m sure the ‘model’ is a nice person and that she and the beer fest organizers thought they were being tasteful in using her image on their guide. “Hey, it’s Belgian! Europeans are cool with nudity.” But how is that different from St. Pauli Girl beer bringing its annual Playmate — oh, sorry, spokesmodel — to beer fests? You would think that an organization that is all about distancing itself from the coarse ways of major breweries might at least be ironic in putting a nude model on its beer fest guide, to show how the craft beer drinker is more intelligent than the Bud Lite drinker. Like, they might have created a guide with a nude Devil Girl on the front cover and a nude Devil Guy on the back cover. That would’ve made me laugh and say, “These guys get it! They understand that their audience isn’t just backward-baseball-cap-wearing guys who want to guzzle flavorless beer.”

There were a lot of women at the beer fest — I’m guessing around 40 percent. I’m sure a lot of them were unfazed by the guide cover. But I’m sure a lot of them, like me, said, “What the hell? Is this some kind of lame beer-guy thing? What am I doing here?”

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One Response to “A great beer fest, a stupid beer fest guide”

  1. Jeff

    Thanks for the feedback, Lauren. Our intention was honest: use an icon that many know, as well as capitalize on the “nude” and “devil” theme that permiates Belgian style beer labels and marketing in Belgium, and applying it to our guide but with a modern twist. No harm, no fowl, and definitely no tip of the hat to warm fuzzy piss beer. See you at Extreme, where we just might put an extremely huge cock on our next guide cover 😉

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