Who knew beer could be gendered, let alone gender-fluid? BrewDog, apparently…
We like things a little subversive here at Wonderland; the gender fluidity of J.W. Anderson; the beautifully queer, androgynous drapery of Rick Owens; the fearless actors and performers we feature every issue. And, it seems, the beers that are changing the way we look at gender binaries. Yep, microbrew extraordinaires Brew Dog are releasing a “beer using hops that have undergone a hermaphroditic gender change.” The 4.6% ABV Kölsch style beer, named ‘No Label’, has been brewed with hops that have undergone a ‘sex change’ from female to male flowers prior to harvest.
If that sounds a little questionable and derivative, then hold your righteous anger for a second because it’s all to be taken with a pinch of wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, symbolic salt – or perhaps yeast would be more accurate. The release is intended as a statement against taboos and received norms, with the label copy asserting: “Just like humans, we believe a beer can be whatever the hell it wants to be, and proud of it.” And if the sheer joyous absurdity of this deliciously (gender) fluid beer still hasn’t abated your concerns, fear not. Profits from the sales of No Label go to support LGBTQI+ events organiser, Queerest of the Queer, who will then distribute the donation to charities that support Transgender youth communities.
So far, so one of the stranger charitable initiatives you’ve heard of recently. But the brewing process was certainly attentive in its commitment to the No Label ethos. BrewDog incorporated 20kg of Jester hops in the brewing process – a variety that is naturally prone to a change of sex. Traditionally, only female hop plants are used in brewing, with male hop bines discarded as the flowers don’t grow into the full cones needed. Working together with hop farmers, BrewDog obtained bines that had undergone this change and grown male flowers, and then used these in the brewing process to add diversity, rather than discarding them.
So, if you get a chance to head to BrewDog’s latest venue in Soho – where else? – then seize your opportunity to celebrate the queer through beer. If not, well, you’ve probably learned more about the gender identity of hops than you ever imagined you would.