May 7, 2013

Amager Bryghus' "Lust" Beer is Too Sexy for Sweden, Just Sinful Enough for a Blog Post

So, last month, the Swedes told Danish brewer Amager Bryghus that one of their beers would need to be distributed with blacked out labels, because it was just too freakin sexy. Actually, they said it was too "sexual," but my way of describing it is more fun and makes it sound like it was delivered by Horatio Sanz in a mariachi uniform behind Chris Kattan playing Antonio Banderas.

According to the story on UPI:
Danish brewer Amager Bryghus said its Lust beer -- part of a seven-part Sinner Series of beers featuring cartoon labels -- will receive a special label for sale in Sweden's liquor stores, run by state-owned company Systembolaget, after the retailer declared the cartoon image of a woman partially submerged in water while apparently nude was too suggestive. 
"We can't accept the label, it's against Sweden's alcohol laws," Systembolaget spokesman Lennart Agen said. "It's quite a sexual label." 
Amager Bryhus said Lust beer will be sold in Sweden with the cartoon portion of the label blacked out. 
"We had to go through 10 attempts before they'd accept it," said Henrik Papso, head of communications at the brewery. "We were trying for a bit of humor with the text, but they wouldn't let me get away with it."
Well, that is intriguing. First, it involves the Denmark and Sweden, two of my favorite nations (during WWII, when my ancestors were being exterminated and FDR was a little too "busy" to bomb a train track or two, the Danes and Swedes were basically the only two nations that took serious efforts to stand up to Nazi genocide efforts). Also, I have been known to write about over sexualized beer labels before. And if it's called "Lust," it must be pretty serious. So let's see what this scandalous label looks like...
Amager Bryghus Lust Label
Is it the fact that she has black hair? BOOM Nordic humor! 
...That's it?

I was kind of expecting some kind of lustful act, or at least a wanton gaze. All I've got is an anime girl taking a bath with a vaguely flirtatious look.

I mean, this is not great art or anything, and of course her breasts are absurdly large, but this is pretty damn mild compared to the chauvinism and lowbrow gutter humor we see all the time. I'm left thinking the Swedes are really prude.

Since we're doing this, and I'm interested in sin (academically!), let's take a look at the others in the Sinner Series. All art is by Simon Hartvig Daugaard:
Amager Bryghus Wrath Label
How Lew Bryson looks when someone calls a 6% ABV beer "sessionable"
WAIT. What?

So the submerged girl out of Sailor Moon draws a stink, but Demonface McBareboob is okay? To be fair, I have no idea if this label made it to Sweden (one suspects not), but if one is looking for overly risque label art to criticize, I'd start with the Skinimax-in-Gehenna label before the CW-at-7-pm one.

Amager Bryghus Sloth Label
How I look when someone illustrates a blonde ale with a blonde woman.
 Ha! I love this guy. He's not going anywhere. Way to capture sloth, Danes!

Amager Bryghus Envy Label
How my friends looked when I complained that it wasn't that warm in Austin.
She looks more miffed than envious, but I see it.

Amager Bryghus Greed Label
How I look when I get a check for writing about beer.
Little greedy guy caressing money. Straightforward. These labels are pretty much on the nose. Nicely illustrated, not too ridiculous.

Amager Bryghus Gluttony Label
How I look after a beer tasting with free cheese.
This one's got a little more creativity. Pretty disturbing, actually, but it gets the point across. His ravenous bellymouth appears to be eating giant hops. Like y'do.

Amager Bryghus Pride Label
I never look like this.
The most conceptual of these. I like the blindfolded man and the trappings of pomp.

 They put them all together in one nice, weird sin art piece:
Amager Bryghus Sinner Series Characters
Now THAT was a party.
We see the lusty one in the back there, thong-clad, coquettish and topless. Everyone else looks pretty much the same. I still love the sloth guy the most.

One other label I just wanted to throw out there, since I'm pretty unlikely to spend a lot of time on a Danish brewery again any time soon. It's an IPA called the Kaaad:

Amager Bryghus Kaaad IPA label design
She's not happy; she's just drawn that way.

I am pretty sure that, vague bunny veneer or no, that is the most sexual label we've seen here today. I mean, one could argue, I suppose, over whether a rabbit is ever really naked, and whether fur by itself constitutes covering... or one could look at this woman's fairly prominent nipples and very human face and say that if any label needs a black bar, this would be it. Which would be a shame, because the bright Easter-y colors and the double entrendres of the bunny and eggs are rather clever, by beer label standards.

Of course, I don't believe labels should have black censorship bars. The drinking age in Sweden is 18, so by then you can also buy pornography (and, given Europe's slightly less prudish view on nudity, you've probably seen a breast or two on TV by then). The point is, no 10-year-old will be wandering through a store and scandalized. Actually, none of the labels here should really scandalize anyone. These aren't overt sex acts, or even anything that constitutes an act. I wouldn't even think these are particularly sexual, but then I don't confuse the human form with sex. If the first beer was called "bathe" instead of "lust," I wonder if the Swedes would have felt quite so compelled to censor it.


  1. Thanks for your great - and very humorous - analysis Greg. really appreciate it - dunno about the Swedes though :-)
    Yes, Wrath did get approved in Sweden with that label.
    Our Swedish importer said he wasn't even gonna try getting approval for Kåååd (Kåt just happens to mean horny in Swedish). So we had to change both name and label for that one.
    Amager Bryghus

  2. Wow, so the naked bunny beer has a name that sounds like the word for "horny" in Sweden? That is amazingly funny/bad luck. I can not wait to see what issues we start running into when we export mead.

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