Undignified And Immodest: Ralph Steadman Banned In North Carolina

A beer label featuring a stylised naked figure is too much for North Carolina.

It’s the sort of nonsense that we usually expect from British beer censors like The Portman Group or the Advertising Standards Authority, but the pompously named North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission is proving to be just as humourless and priggish as their British equivalents. It has just declaring Flying Dog Brewery’s new seasonal winter ale as beyond the pale. The reason? The label is “undignified and immodest”.

The Freezin’ Season Winter Ale features a naked man on the label, but before you get too worked up, the art is by the legendary Ralph Steadman and is hardly anatomically correct. You’d have to be particularly obsessed to see it as anything sexual or even a realistic portrayal of the naked body, but you should never underestimate the moral panic of the prudes – especially a control board that, two years earlier, banned Wasatch Brewery’s Polygamy Nitro Porter on the basis that it promoted illegal activity.

Flying Dog has not taken this lying down – the company has long had a thing about free speech – it was founded by George Stranahan, a friend of Hunter S. Thompson, after all – and has sued over potentially lost sales and First Amendment rights. As the brewer points out, none of the other 24 states that it distributes in have had a problem with it.

This is not the brewery’s first run-in with censors. As we previously reported, they went to war with The Portman Group in Britain back in 2018, and in 1995 were censured by the Colorado Liquor Board for including the phrase “Good Beer, No Shit” on a label, eventually changing it to “Good Beer, No Censorship.” Raging Bitch IPA also had problems for years. Obviously, we wish them luck in their latest battle – and will be keeping an eye out for the new brew when it hits the UK.

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