Local beer billboard spurs debate
By Jeff Kiger, jkiger@postbulletin.com

A local pastor's complaint about a Rochester beer name and billboard campaign is spurring a discussion about sexual harassment, marketing and humor.

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It started last week when the Rev. Katy Lee of Rochester noticed a billboard along U.S. Hwy 52 for a beer at her favorite restaurant and brewery in town. The advertisement for "Easy A Minnesota Blonde" beer at Grand Rounds Brewing Co. with an exaggerated cartoon of a woman kissing a man bothered her. The text on the billboard states, "Mark Your Territory."

"Honestly, if it had been a restaurant or establishment that I didn't know or didn't like, I probably would have just rolled my eyes and written it off. But the fact it was a restaurant I know and care about, my favorite brewery in town, I felt personally hurt," said Lee, who is a pastor at Christ United Methodist Church." It felt like a message that didn't resonate with me as a blonde woman and a Minnesota woman."

Grand Rounds owner Tessa Leung said that the beer name, which has been around since this summer, comes from the movie, "Easy A." The movie is a comedic modern story that references the Puritan novel "The Scarlet Letter." Wearing a scarlet "A" was the Puritan punishment for a woman who had sex outside of marriage.

The idea was to play on traditionally sexist term for women and then flip it to a positive message.

"The label, the name, the meaning behind the name was vetted by, I can't even tell you how many women.