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Treaty Beer not a retail hit in WA.

Treaty beer not a retail hit in WA

Don't try to talk up Treaty Beer to Sandy Hemminger.

A month ago, an employee of Hemminger's Highway Grocery in this Pierce County town agreed to sell the brew after its distributor said the novelty beer would bring in customers, (See Modern Brewery Age Tabloid, February 5, 1990).

But Hemminger says she still has nearly four of the five cases purchased for the store. Worse, her store is now being boycotted by people who don't like the beer's anti-Indian message.

The beer has been promoted as a fund-raising effort by a group opposed to Indian treaty rights.

Hemminger said her employee didn't know the story behind the beer, and she now wants to get rid of the product. But the wholesaler won't take it back, and, as she puts it, "Sales are not booming."

"Had we known exactly what it represented," she added, "we would never had let it in here."

When the beer turned up a month ago in the state, its makers said it would help build a coalition of sports fishermen, hunters and others who think Indian tribes receive unfair special treatment in treaties on hunting and fishing rights. Opponents of the beer denounced it as racist.

Since then, Dean Crist, the Wisconsin-based maker of the beer, says it is selling well. But its opponents--who include Indian tribes, human-rights activists, church groups and many politicians say they have seen it in only four locations, three of which no longer have it on the shelves.

The threat of boycotts, a lack of demand and an educational campaign informing retailers of the beer's purpose apparently have slowed its sale, said Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

At Sporty's Beef 'n Brew in Everett, the beer is no longer in stock, largely because interest in it waned shortly after the owners purchased it, said Glen Smith, Sporty's co-owner.

"We sold quite a bit of it at first, mostly to people collecting it like they used to collect Billy Beer," Smith said. "But after that, the demand just dropped off."
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Title Annotation:racist image unpopular in Washington state
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Mar 19, 1990
Words:351
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