Starting this week, the Flying Fish Brewing Company’s second beer in their Exit Sign Series is due to hit shelves and bars. These beers are named after the exits that are near the Cherry Hill, NJ home of the brewery. The first in the series, Exit 4, is a Belgian style ale and the next will be an American Wheat Ale called Exit 11.
The New Jersey Turnpike and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are up in arms about founder of Flying Fish Gene Muller naming beer after roadways. Mindy Lazar of the New Jersey chapter of MADD stated, “The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn’t make any kind of sense, this is almost a mockery.” Undoubtedly drunk driving is a serious topic and should never be taken lightly, but does naming a beer after a roadway really deserve such concern?
Other beers have taken an automotive theme without such a backlash. Bear Republic Brewery’s Hop Rod Rye, a beer associated with “hot rods”, received no such admonitions when it was released. Another example of automobiles and beer would be AleSmith Brewing Company’s Speedway Stout, featuring checkered flags on the bottle, this is another beer with close ties to motoring. Maybe the Speedway Stout can be excused because it is a closed course with professional drivers? I don’t know.
The reality is that naming a beer after cars, races, or exit signs isn’t going to create a mad frenzy of would be drunks to get into their cars and rush to the streets. Education about alcohol seems like a much better approach than attacking one company’s choice of labeling.