Nottingham brewery rebrands core beer in response to sexism concerns

By James Beeson

- Last updated on GMT

Empowering: the new design (right) pays homage to the women pilots of World War II
Empowering: the new design (right) pays homage to the women pilots of World War II

Related tags World war ii

Castle Rock Brewery has announced a rebrand of Elsie Mo, one of its longest-standing and permanent brews, in response to the ongoing debate surrounding sexism within the beer industry.

First brewed in 1998, Elsie Mo was inspired by the historical images of US aircraft nose art, and the original pump clip featured a woman in homage to the classic 1940s pin-up style design.

The beer is now the brewery’s second biggest selling core beer and continues to win a variety of local, regional and national awards.

However, the brewery has decided to overhaul the branding of the beer, with managing director Colin Wilde stating: “It is time to acknowledge that the sexualised presentation of Elsie Mo is not accepted by a culture that strives for, and celebrates, equality.”

A contentious issue

Wilde added: “Over the past few years, we’ve questioned the Elsie Mo branding ourselves, as well as customers. In 2014, we rebranded Elsie, wanting to better integrate the image within the historical context intended. The consensus from our customer base that the pump clip was improved, but the depiction of Elsie Mo remained a contentious issue.

“While we never set out to offend, we acknowledge that the pump clip – in all versions it has appeared over the years – may have been regarded as offensive and we now think the time is right to move forward."

After extensive discussion, the need for change was agreed in January and the new design presents an homage to the women pilots of World War II, and the war effort at large.  

Inspiration has been taken from the women pilots of World War II, who took to the skies in Spitfires, Lancasters and Hurricanes to deliver battle-ready planes to fighter pilots of the RAF.

An empowering image

Commenting on the new design, Wilde said: “Elsie’s now in the pilot’s seat, where perhaps she should have been all along.”

The rebrand itself was overseen by the marketing department at Castle Rock, with marketing executive Liv Auckland being instrumental in the conceptual designs.

Auckland said: "We worked closely with our designer to ensure the new pump clip is spot on. While it pays homage to the war effort and the unsung bravery of these pilots, my aim was for it to be an empowering image – to be a pump clip that proudly celebrates women in all industries, including our own.”

The recipe and process for Elsie Mo will remain the same, and the new design will be launching in the coming weeks, as existing stock is phased out. 

Last week, prominent anti-sexism campaigner and London brewer Jaega Wise was elected​ as a south-east director for the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), following an election at the organisation's regional AGM.

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