DuClaw Brewing Co. has become one of Baltimore’s most popular craft breweries in just a few short years, but over in Ohio, shoppers haven’t been so impressed.
In fact, one grocery store chain in Cleveland decided to pull six-packs of DuClaw’s “Sweet Baby Jesus!” beer after receiving multiple customer complaints about the name.
The peanut butter-chocolate porter is the brewery’s most popular beer among local consumers, according to the Baltimore Business Journal and International Business Times UK, accounting for about 35-40% of its total beer sales.
DuClaw has been brewing Sweet Baby Jesus! for about two years and the name hasn’t been immune to controversy, although it was only recently that stores began taking action and pulling the beer off shelves. Earlier this year, military base grocery stores decided to stop selling Sweet Baby Jesus! after receiving multiple written complaints and phone calls from dissatisfied customers.
The Huffington Post reports that the grocery store chain Heinen’s, which is based in Cleveland but has 22 locations across Ohio and Illinois, pulled the beer from shelves after just two months of selling it.
DuClaw founder Dave Benfield stated that the brewery chooses names carefully for each beer, explaining that “it’s really more than liquid; it’s how that beer feels to us.”
“We liked the phrase [Sweet Baby Jesus!], which at least to us, is a phrase of excitement or astonishment,” Benfield told the Baltimore Business Journal.
“It’s not meant to be offensive, it’s not meant to be derogatory,” Benfield stated. “If we thought we’d stepped over the line and offended people, we probably wouldn’t have done it in the first place.”
Perhaps the old adage “any publicity is good publicity” will prove true in this case; it’s rare that a small microbrewery like DuClaw gets national attention, and it’s possibly one of the most cost-effective ways to benefit from a combination of print and digital advertising (which is considered to be the most effective type of marketing by more than 75% of small businesses).
Or, maybe it will simply show Marylanders that they have a thicker skin — and more dedication to their beer — than the rest of the country.
Regardless of how DuClaw is affected by Heinen’s decision, Baltimore beer lovers can rest assured that Sweet Baby Jesus! isn’t about to disappear from Maryland shelves any time soon — and if you’re traveling to Ohio or Illinois, there are still plenty of other stores that no intention of following Heinen’s lead.