Franklin Brewery Says It Didn’t Know 'Boogaloo' Was A Racist Term
The Asheville Brewers Alliance kicked out a member brewery after its new beer - named for an alt-right movement - went viral.
Dan Kowal went to Currahee Brewing Company in Franklin for an outdoor jazz concert Saturday night. When he saw the brewery’s new line of Boogaloo beers the evening changed.
“It just knocked me almost down to see that this was being promoted,” says Kowal.
In the past,‘boogaloo’, referred to a style of music. Recently it has become a word used by the alt-right as a term for a race war.
Kowal, who is the vice-president of the Jackson County NAACP, says he wasn’t representing the organization when he posted the image online.
He originally posted the image with a caption saying that Currahee owners “needed a throat punch.” He says he doesn’t believe in violence and apologizes for this language.
It went viral that night with comments flying between locals and Currahee.
Co-owner of Currahee, Brandon Hintz says he wasn’t aware of the racial connotations of the word until Saturday night. He says the planning for the beer started back in January when legislation restricting gun purchasing was moving through the Virginia legislature:
“So we were kind of playing with that,due to the fact that, you know, I'm a fairly avid sportsman. and we're also very, you know, constitutionally oriented,” says Hintz.
Hintz also explained that the brewery is named, “Currahee” after the motto of the 506 Airborne Infantry Regiment which trains at Currahee Mountain near Tocca, Georgia.
Currahee Brewing Company first opened in Alpharetta, Georgia before opening at the Franklin location in 2016.
Hintz says he meant for the ‘boogaloo’ branding to be anti-government overreach similar to the “Don’t tread on me” slogan. The beer can features an image of George Washington as a modern day general wearing a Hawaiian shirt, adapted from memes the Currahee team had seen on the internet. Hintz says they didn’t know about the Hawaiian shirt links to white supremacy.
“No, not at all. And like I said, if we did, we never would have named it that,” says Hintz. “And knowing that it is being used by those, we are dropping the beer immediately.”
But this action comes too late for the Asheville Brewers Alliance. The guild represents about 100 members across the 19 westernmost counties. Executive Director Leah Rainis says the Alliance condemns the brewery’s actions:
“We are in the process of making moves to refund their member dues and remove them as members of our organization,” says Rainis, who explains the offensive imagery violates the organization's bylaws.
On Sunday, Currahee Brewing Company officially apologized and pulled the “boogaloo” brand.
A Facebook post says that the brewery “will be giving all profits from any sales of boogaloo-branded beer, to Civil Rights Organizations and to help families affected by the unjust killings, destruction, and riots around the country.”
Smoky Mountain News Reporter Cory Vaillancourt also contributed to this report.