Bottle shop chain Blackhearts & Sparrows will no longer stock Colonial Brewing Co beers following a public campaign against the brewery’s name.
The bottle shop will donate the profits from any remaining stock to Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance.
“While we appreciate that the people behind Colonial Brewing had no malicious intent in their choice of brand name, words have power,” the store said in a statement.
“We’ve had discussions with Colonial in the past with concerns about their name, but with their branding remaining the same our decision was clear.
“Colonial is still a problematic word that speaks to a broader history of colonialism and colonisation that has caused irreversible harm to the First Nations people in Australia and Indigenous populations around the world.”
Blackhearts & Sparrows has stores across Melbourne, Hobart and the ACT.
The decision to dump Colonial follows a three-year campaign by Melbourne chef and writer Shaad D’Souza.
D’Souza noted on his Instagram page: “This is small in the scheme of things, not like anyone has solved racism lol and I know that corporate change is generally meaningless without structural change but I appreciate it.”
Colonial Brewing Co, based in Margaret River, has announced its name will now be subject to an internal review process.
Managing Director of Colonial Brewing Co Lawrence Dowd said on Tuesday the company was in the process of “reviewing and better understanding what this name means”.
“The brand and name Colonial Brewing Co was inherited in 2008 when purchased, what was at the time, a small microbrewery in Margaret River – it was not chosen, or intended to celebrate (colonisation),” the brewer added.
“The name Colonial was given to the brewery as it was one of the first to establish itself in the well regarded wine region of Margaret River, colonialising the wine region with one of the first craft breweries.
“Over the past six months Colonial Brewing Co have undertaken a process to review and understand the options we have to approach the name considering the historical meaning.
“The process includes consultations with the appropriate parties to ensure a considered outcome is reached.”
WA Premier speaks out
WA Premier Mark McGowan said he did not think a name change was necessary for Colonial.
“I don’t agree with that, I think that’s unnecessary, I think that might be taking it a bit far,” McGowan said.
WA Indigenous Affairs Minister, Ben Wyatt, agreed and said he was surprised this had become an issue.
“I don’t think anybody has really looked at the name of that Colonial and seen it in any form of race way at all,” Wyatt said.
Bottle shop chain cops backlash
Blackhearts & Sparrows has faced criticism over its decision to destock Colonial beers, while the brewery has been flooded with comments of support from loyal customers.
Communications expert Anthony McClellan at AMC Media told Brews News: “Interestingly, [the bottle shop which] started all of this by boycotting Colonial are having a significant backlash themselves, with calls on social media for a boycott of their shops. I’m not sure they thought through the implications of their decision.”
Hundreds of people have vented their displeasure on Blackhearts & Sparrows’ Facebook page, telling the chain it has made a “huge retail mistake”.
Colonial’s communications and marketing manager Jenna Godley said: “If I was to give advice to a general small brewery, I would say to control your own conversation. At no point have we and at no point will we talk about how this began or [our opinions on] any of the other brands involved. We can only control our positioning and our opinions.
“There’s a lot of learning along the way, and we will reach out to Blackhearts & Sparrows.
“If we can’t support each other and leverage positive communication we’re not doing our part within the industry.”