Lots of companies market their products to the gay and lesbian community. But it’s much more rare for a company to launch an actual gay product. And when it does, the immediate question is, “Okay, what makes this product gay?”
This year has seen the launch of at least three gay beers, and in each case, the brewers claim that their products are not just gay in name, but intrinsically gay.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen gay beer. Back in 2005, Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area launched Alexander Wood Lager, named after a supposedly gay magistrate from the 1800s. But while Alexander Wood Lager may have been gay in name only, this year’s crop of gay beers are gay in taste, too.
In February, a Mexican brewery introduced two gay beers: Purple Hand and Salamandra. Brewed with organic honey and malt, the beers have a slightly orange flavour which, according to the brewer, appeals to the gay community. I had no idea homosexuals were so homogenous that there’s a specific taste we’re all drawn to.
Then in May, Pride Winnipeg launched Queer Beer. Conceived as a fundraiser, the beer was brewed specifically for the queer community, with a taste that’s “a little bit fruity and 100 percent fabulous.”
Could it be that what makes both the Mexican and Winnipeg beers gay is their “fruitiness”? Could it be that what links such products to the gay community is nothing more than a pun? Surely, there’s nothing about the homosexual palate that’s drawn more to fruit flavours than to grains or hops.
And if a pun is all that connects us to such brews, why not go all the way? A truly gay beer would be full-bodied and have a nice, thick head. It might come in either a top-fermented stout or a bottom-fermented pilsner. And while swishing it over the tongue, one might detect leathery, woody or banana notes before spitting (one never swallows on a first tasting).
But alas, the pun contest has already been won. In August, a Czech brewer launched a beer for Prague’s first Pride festival. The brew is called BuQicák, and it’s positively swimming in not-so-positive puns. In fact, many people view it as an elaborate anti-gay joke, since it was developed by the secretary of Czech President Václav Klaus, who’s not a big promoter of gay rights.
BuQicák is four percent alcohol (which matches the incidence of homosexuality, according to its brewer). It’s pink (for obvious reasons) and has a fruity, flowery taste, thanks to hibiscus, orange peel, coriander and beechnuts. The beechnuts are there because the Czech word for beechnuts is a derogatory term for homosexuals. The brewer recommends drinking it warm because the Czech word for “warm” is another slang term for homosexual. And given how rare the letter “Q” is in Czech, the uppercase “Q” in the name is an obvious reference to Queer.
All in all, one nasty little beer.
But what about lesbian lager? Does it exist? Well, sort of. In 1993, the Coors Company (now Molson Coors) encouraged employees to form LAGER, the Lesbian and Gay Employee Resource. Which is ironic since Coors is still routinely boycotted for the anti-gay political contributions made by Coors family members.
While all gay beers are a transparent attempt to make money off gays and lesbians – and some gay beers may even be anti-gay – at least a few of them put money back into our communities. Which is an okay reason to drink them, as long as you’re comfortable with fruitiness.
Remember Adam Sandler and Chris Farley’s Schmitt’s gay beer commercial from 1991? <