26 May 2023

Norfolk brewer changes White Face beer name to avoid offence

United Kingdom | Seems like anyone and everyone is afraid of offending anyone and everyone: A brewery decided to change the name of an award-winning beer, which was inspired by the name of a hare, after racism concerns.

The cask ale White Face, which was launch by the small brewer Moon Gazer in Hindringham, Norfolk, three years ago, will now be labelled Cheeky Jack, various UK media reported on 10 May. To avoid any misunderstanding: Cheeky Jacks are called jack rabbits in the United States.

The brewer said it named all of its ales after hares. White Face came from a 13th century poem, called the Names of the Hare, which was translated from the Middle English by the Irish poet and Nobel Prize in Literature winner, Seamus Heaney (1939-2012) earlier in his career.

Some punters don’t know their literature

But the brewery’ owner, David Halliday, said they decided to drop the name after some people felt uncomfortable with it.

“We have become aware that the name White Face just wasn't sitting entirely comfortably with some people, especially with those who are not familiar with our wider links to hares,” he was quoted as saying. “Some people did not know the connection to the hare’s name … and sadly, in some cases, giving rise to the feeling that there was an undercurrent of racism.” He added: “This is, of course, a complete misunderstanding but the fact that it created that impression was of genuine concern to us. There was never any intention to offend anyone.”

Mr Halliday said he had received a few calls from publicans who said some customers complained about the name, but it was a recent comment at a local charity event that prompted the change.

Avoiding a public flogging

He and his wife overheard a “rufty-tufty middle-aged man” praise their beer but then added that the “name's a bit racist though”.

Moon Gazer brewery then decided to go through the expense of changing the beer’s name, rather than risk offending anyone else.

Mr Halliday is conscious of being accused of being oversensitive or overreacting but countered that beer should do one simple thing - bring pleasure.

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