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Asia/Australia

23 September 2022

Australian brewer Colonial changes “problematic” name to CBCo after criticism

Australia | Succumbing to wokery, as some see it, the craft brewer Colonial has changed its name, following two years of pressure amid claims it “glorifies and glamorises the colonial process”. As of 7 September, it calls itself CBCo.

The independent craft brewer CBCo began production in Western Australia’s Margaret River region in 2004, before expanding to a second location in Port Melbourne in 2015. Its sells some 40,000 hl beer, which makes it one of Australia’s major craft breweries. After a recent investment of some AUD 12 million (USD 8 million) in upgrades to its Port Melbourne brewery, its brewing capacity has doubled to 80,000 hl.

In 2020, Colonial’s products were dropped by some liquor stores, which felt that the beer company’s name romanticises Australian history.

Now the craft brewer will be known simply as CBCo, with the name to start appearing on all new cans immediately, the company announced.

Virtue signalling?

CBCo’s Managing Director, Lawrence Dowd, said the name had become “problematic” and stopped the company from growing. “As we have evolved so has the world – for the better,” he said.

“We recognise that the name Colonial Brewing Company no longer aligns with the respect we have for, and the value we place on the rich cultural traditions and talents of indigenous people. Nor does it connect or reflect on who we are as a business and those who work here.”

The new name, a longtime internal moniker, aims to remove the divisive reference “colonial”, while retaining a nod to its 18-year brand heritage in a manner more appropriate for today, he said.

The rebranding still split the nation. Some thought the name change only represented a minor shift from the original. Others blasted the brewery for becoming the latest victim of “cancel culture”.

Racism in a beer logo

The debate over a problematic name for a beer business has been raging in Austria for a decade. The Mohren brewery in Dornbirn, western Austria, which was founded in 1834, is named after an 18th century local publican, Johann Mohr. Mohr is also the archaic spelling of the German word Moor (moor in English), a black man. Many think this is a taboo nowadays. Making matters worse, Mohren brewery has long sported a logo of a silhouetted black person’s head, which many called racist.

After several waves of criticism, Mohren brewery went for a rebrand in March this year, but decided to keep the logo, albeit now showing a black head with neutral features. The rebranding will take years to implement and will cost millions of euros. For example, Mohren brewery has more than 100,000 proprietary crates in circulation. It could take a decade to replace them as they will be pulled out only when they are broken.

Also, more than 100 pharmacies in Germany sport the name Mohren, to honour the healing arts of moors – as the Muslim people of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula were called during the Middle Ages. In recent years these pharmacies were called upon to change their offensive racist name. Many non-compliant pharmacies have seen their signage defaced or destroyed.