As trouble brews, Scottish firm withdraws Ganesha beer branding
A brewery based in the Scottish border town of Galashiels on Friday confirmed it will remove all references to Ganesha from one of its beer brands following protests by Hindu groups.
Tempest Brewing Co. from the village of Tweedbank had been selling its India Pils beer with a colourful image of the Hindu God alongside a message calling on customers to "channel your inner Ganesha and overcome all obstacles with our hoppy pilsner".
However, the company has now modified its messaging following objections by the US-based Universal Society of Hinduism.
"Tempest Brewing Co. as a whole embraces equality and diversity therefore, we are saddened to hear that our 'India Pils' has caused upset within the Hindu community and we would like to offer our apologies," said Gavin Meiklejohn, Founding Director of Tempest Brewing Co.
"India Pils is one of our most popular beers and is already programmed into our schedule for next year. However, we are happy to immediately remove all written references to Ganesha from our marketing of this beer and will alter the artwork before its next release," he said.
Meiklejohn has reached out to Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, for further dialogue over the issue.
The company stressed that the colourful artwork used for its beer brand was chosen for its stand-out colours and not intended to cause offence.
"We are not the first company to have been drawn towards Ganesha, as Mercedes, Reliance Mutual, Renault, IDFC bank have also utilised Ganesha for advertising and marketing, which is why, at the time, we did not think that there would be an issue," said Meiklejohn, who said the intention was not to stray into any religious territory and the route was taken in "all innocence".
"Our artwork has always been bold and bright, and our inspiration has always been driven from many different avenues. Our passion is to create a product that people will enjoy together, not to cause upset along the way," he said.
The company's website has already removed all references to Ganesha and refers to India Pils simply as a "delicious hoppy pilsner" with a crisp, fruity hop flavour and great drinkability.
The Universal Society of Hinduism had said in a statement that "symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled".
The brewery had claimed that the name was chosen to reflect the beer's "Indian flavour profile" but was only brewed as a limited run for a beer festival and was never intended to be sold widely.
"As soon as we were made aware that the name could be seen as cultural appropriation, we looked into it and immediately took the decision that it would not be used in future," said Adrian Chapman, head brewer at Wishbone Brewery.
The beer branding controversies follow another UK brewery being forced to withdraw its branding of a variety of Indian Pale Ale (IPA) as Kalika IPA, alongside an image of Goddess Kali a few months ago.
(With inputs from agencies.)