Little Fish Brewing Talks About Consent
Ohio’s Little Fish Brewing has partnered with a non-profit group supporting survivors of sexual assault to promote the importance of consent.
For the last two years, this brewery from the small college town of Athens has worked with Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program (SAOP) to release Consent, a barrel-aged sour ale brewed with tea. The beer was released on draft during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in April, and was released in bottles for the first time during the last week of November.
Sean White, co-founder and head brewer at Little Fish, says it’s a collaboration that made sense to him immediately.
“The idea of the beer was to help people talk about sexual assault, which is not a pleasant conversation to have,” he explains.
The idea of using tea came about when a Little Fish employee mentioned the popular Consent & Tea video that went viral on YouTube a few years ago (embedded at the bottom of this article), which uses tea as a metaphor for consent.
“The video brings a little humor to a shitty subject,” says White. “Once we had the idea of tea, it was easy to figure out what to do with that.”
Alcohol and Consent
Jen Seifert, executive director of SAOP, uses the same video in high school classrooms when giving presentations on sexual consent. She says the partnership with Little Fish was a natural one for her organization.
“For Sexual Assault Awareness Month in 2018, we were soliciting partners for our Turn the Town Teal campaign, since teal is the color for SAAM,” she explains. “My partner and I love Little Fish, so we approached them about a potential collaboration. Right away, Sean was like, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’”
“It’s a conversation we need to have around the consumption of alcohol,” says White. “I don’t know how to properly address that just by releasing a beer, but hopefully this at least starts conversations and brings awareness to the importance of consent. It’s impossible for a drunk person to consent. Consent needs to be given as a positive Yes.”
Seifert echoes those thoughts.
“This beer is a celebration of consent and how communities—even those promoting the consumption of alcohol—can promote these kind of conversations. It’s not alcohol doing these things. It’s people using alcohol to excuse their bad behavior and to make other people more vulnerable.”
In addition to Little Fish, SAOP has also worked with fellow Athens breweries Jackie O’s and Devil’s Kettle to promote awareness through posters and donations in association with Turn the Town Teal. All three breweries put out beer coasters promoting the organization and its programs.
An Enthusiastic Yes
Consent’s bottle label features the familiar stick figures from the Consent & Tea video. Only a couple hundred bottles were released, and were available at the Little Fish taproom exclusively, with $2 from every bottle going to SAOP. The funds will primarily be used to do prevention education in local K-12 schools, as well as to provide emergency needs for survivors.
This year’s version of the beer was a sour brown ale that had aged for 22 months in red wine barrels before being conditioned on Earl Grey tea and rose petals.
“It definitely picks up some of that vinous quality from the barrels,” says White. “It’s not extremely sour, it’s more balanced and mellow. It’s a good match for the tea.”
“This beer has been great both years, but the second year was even better,” says Seifert with a laugh.
The pair are hopeful to continue the collaboration in 2020, though nothing has yet been decided.
A barrel-aged sour ale, a humorous video with animated stick figures, and an important non-profit organization are working together to make sure the topic of consent receives an enthusiastic Yes in this small Ohio town. Let’s hope that conversation spreads throughout the craft beer community.
All images courtesy of Little Fish Brewing.
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