(Bellaire, MI) – A label I posted up this morning (shown above) has drawn quite the mixed reactions from the beer community today. The brewery has weighed in . . .
[6/25 Final Update from brewery here]
Short’s Brewing plans (planned?) to released Hangin’ Frank, pictured above, in bottles at some point this year. In my write-up this morning, I mentioned how I was surprised that the TTB passed this through given some of the other things that they deny. I didn’t even consider or mention the angle that some could be offended by the photo.
The post showing the label was shared today by a user in the Beer Advocate forums with many mixed reactions over it in a thread that is now 220+ replies deep. Fortunately, Short’s Brewing representative, Scott Newman-Bale, chimed in with the context behind the label artwork and said that the brewery is taking another look at it:
“Okay the label is under review. The hand was not intended to appear dark or tanned. The picture depicts a legendary Northern Michigan tale. The owner of City Park Grill in the early 1900s hanged himself, on the bar leading down into the cellar. There are numerous stories about hauntings in the bar and the ghost is affectionly known as Hangin Frank.
That said we are reviewing the label right now but that is the story behind the label. [...]
I can see why [people could be offended] especially on a national level. The hand is meant to be tanned as that is how the picture of Frank appears (although it is over 100 years old so everyone looks tanned by now). I can truly say some of the things mentioned never came to mind in production of the label. Hangin Frank was one of Shorts first beers and was made and named for the City Park Grill in Petoskey. Tying the whole thing together I googled the story and found the following as well as a few other references.
Here is also a posting from the Petoskey news:
City Park Grill
It is said that the ghost of Frank Fochtman, former owner of the City Park Grill in Petoskey, haunts the establishment today.
Manager Jason Septic said it is rumored that Fochtman hung himself in the basement, when it was named Grill Cafe.
‘I know many people who’ve just had a weird sensation or feeling that there’s someone else down there,’ he said, adding that his hair has stood up on the back of his neck on occasion when down in the basement.
The ghost has on occasion been blamed for broken glasses, when they would just snap as they sat on the table.
‘They seemed to, when just sitting on the table, break where the stem meets the glass,’ Septic recalled.
However, despite some broken stemware, Fochtman — commonly just called Frank by the staff — does not seem to have a mean or negative presence.
‘My personal feeling is that he’d be here, just watching over the place,’ Septic said.”
You can vote on whether you think the brewery should change the label in our poll on the right.
[6/25 Update: The brewery has made a final decision:
"Please note that we have made the following changes.
The hand is now clearly Caucasian (as Frank was) on both the label and six pack
There is a statement on the six pack stating: For the story behind this beer go to shortsbrewing.com, where the story will be featured on the homepage at first and then on the product page.
Original versions of the six packs will be available still at the pub although all the labels have the clear Caucasian hand. They will likely be accompanied by a sheet telling the history of Hangin Frank since the statement will not be present to go look at the website for the story.
Although I understand some people may want a totally different label there was also a number of messages asking to leave it unchanged. We felt that although there was not meant to be any offence caused we could completely understand why people felt this way and that although we do not mind being controversial we do not want to be outright offensive and definitely not just for the sake of it. We are not a brewery that relies on gimmicks or shock value for our packaging, we have stories behind everything."]