Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia brewery yanks controversial Hanging Oak ale

Tusket Falls Brewing Company said it did not intend to offend people by the ale's name and imagery on the can. Some critics had denounced the image as racist.

Image of tree with a noose was denounced by some critics on social media as racist

Tusket Falls Brewing Company's image of a tree with a noose on its Hanging Oak ale was denounced as racist and offensive. The brewery has dropped the ale from its product line. (Tusket Falls Brewing Company)

A Nova Scotia brewery is discontinuing its Hanging Oak ale following criticism over a controversial image of a tree and a noose on the product's cans.

"We sincerely apologize to everyone that may be offended by the name and imagery on our can," Tusket Falls Brewing Company said Wednesday in a statement. "It was never our intention for it to be insensitive or to evoke feelings of racism. We have decided to discontinue this brand of beer."

The company also said: "The intentions behind the Tusket Falls Brewing Company can labels and names are all regarding local landmarks and local folklore. Each beer has a story written on the back of the cans regarding the local context behind the images."

The red IPA called Hanging Oak is one of four ales produced by Tusket Falls Brewing Company.

The image, particularly, the noose, was denounced as racist by some critics on social media sites. Nooses have long been a symbol of bigotry and hatred directed at those of African descent.

'Pretty morbid'

Halifax teacher Ben Sichel called the use of the tree and noose racist, and contacted the company. 

"The first thing I thought of was the history of lynchings in the United States, particularly of African-Americans, and anything to do with hanging from a tree is pretty morbid," he told CBC's Maritime Noon earlier this week.

Sichel contacted the company with his complaint. Others voiced their criticism on social media sites.

Jeff Raynard, who opened Tusket Falls Brewing, located about 15 kilometres outside of Yarmouth, in December, initially defended the use of the image.

He told CBC that he was shocked by the allegations, and that the products were named to tie them to local history and landmarks. He said the tree is part of Tusket's history.

"It's around the corner," he said in an interview earlier this week. "They call it the hanging oak. It's not meant to be offensive. It's a local landmark, that's it."