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Currahee Brewing Co. beer name brews controversy

Currahee Brewing Co. beer name brews controversy
(Photo credit: WLOS)

The recent naming of a local beer has stirred up controversy. Some allege the name has racial overtones.

Currahee Brewing Co. -- with locations in Franklin, North Carolina and Alpharetta, Georgia -- released The Boogaloo Imperial Stout in March.

Boogaloo originally related to a Latin style of music and dance.

Currahee Brewing Co. owners said on their Facebook page they chose boogaloo because they understood it had become a word meaning to object to oppression and potential government overreach. The beer cans depict George Washington, as well.

Western Carolina University professor and Jackson County NAACP President Enrique Gomez said the word boogaloo more recently has been co-opted by the far right or alt-right.

“It's very difficult for us in the media space, the cultural space to disentangle,” he said.

Gomez said words like boogaloo and imagery online can become a kind of code to white nationalists.

Criticism about the beer's name quickly popped up in online venues like Untappd, where one person said he wouldn't drink "this ill- advised, seditionist brew, espousing white supremacy and violent civil war."

Once made aware of modern-day connotations, Currahee Brewing Co. officials said they "pulled all beer and any branding associated with the beer and will be disassociating ourselves with the term 'boogaloo' immediately."

Gomez said issues like this have more weight now with increased racial sensitivity evidenced by the George Floyd case.

“Our brains are starting to show, start to look for patterns and associations and become very worried about our safety,” he said.

The brewery said, "For Currahee to have any association to a word that is now used by a racist group, we deeply apologize as it was severely unintentional."

The owners also said funds from the beer sales will now go to civil rights organizations and to help families affected by the unjust killings.

“Well, I salute that. I think that's worthwhile,” Gomez said.

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