"Grab hold of a pair."
That's the slogan for a Madison Craft Beer Week event to be held at Silk Exotic, a strip club in Middleton, on Thursday, May 7.
The event is a release party for Lake Louie Brewing's new Maibock, "The Twins."
The Silk Exotic event has drawn some criticism on social media in recent days, with users expressing displeasure at both the strip club locale and the "grab a pair" branding. One Facebook commenter called the event "disappointing" and said she will "now have second thoughts about drinking Lake Louie." Another asked, "How is it possible this is still totally ok?"
Tom Porter, owner and brewmaster at Lake Louie said he "loves" the controversy that's sprung up around the event.
"If we take this all too seriously we’ll be in trouble," he said. "This is a fun, emerging new industry and I’ve seen it get to where there’s a lot of beer snobs out there."
Porter said he chose to do an event at Silk Exotic because the owners are great Lake Louie customers ("They sell a lot of our beer there," he said) and he wanted to step outside the norm of Madison Craft Beer Week events.
"I thought, 'What a great way to have an event for Madison (Craft) Beer Week that’s a little outside the boring, standard stuff of doing tap takeovers,'" he said.
"Most of the negative comments (about the event) are about the degrading and objectification of the females, but there’s not a lot of that in the reality of the Silk Exotic," Porter said. "Those (critics) are obviously people who have not been there. The reality here is that it’s a classy joint, it really is. It’s a nice place. There’s not tomfoolery or nefarious things going on."
Sexism in the craft beer community has been a hot topic recently, with Wisconsin beers with names like "Bitter Woman" and "HopWhore" drawing ire from some and heated defense from others. Outside the craft beer world, Bud Light recently pulled a tagline from their bottles that many said evoked date rape. It was, "The perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary for the night."
Madison Craft Beer Week organizers said event hosts are in charge of names and themes.
"It’s not our policy to censor venues or breweries that want to participate in Madison Craft Beer Week events," said Jeff Glazer, co-founder of Madison Craft Beer Week.
Fellow co-founder Robyn Klinge said the only events rejected for Madison Craft Beer Week have been those proposed by non-craft breweries.
Though the name for "The Twins" suggests a reference to female anatomy for some, the label itself isn't blatantly sexually provocative. According to Porter, it depicts the Gemini twins astrological sign.
According to a recent Isthmus article, "The Twins" garnered the highest pre-orders of any beer in the history of Lake Louie Brewing.
Porter said out of the brewery's three Madison Craft Beer Week events, he's most looking forward to the release party at Silk Exotic.
"This (event) was not meant as a sort of negative against anyone," he said. "It's just opening up the door to more fun events."