“Kali-Ma” beer, whose launch on May 15 was cancelled after Hindus protested and the issue was raised in India’s Parliament, has now been re-released with a new name of “International Incident”.
It was available at Portland Fruit Beer Festival on June 9-10 and got rave reviews.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, calling identifying of the beer with Goddess Kali as “inappropriate”, has thanked and commended the Portland (Oregon, USA) based Burnside Brewing Company for having an understanding for the hurt feelings of Hindu community and for showing responsibility, respect and maturity by taking quick action in apologizing, postponing the release and renaming it. It was a step in the right direction, he added in a statement in Nevada (USA).
“Ratebeer”, describing this new beer as “pretty awesome”, gave it a mean 3.9 rating out of five. “Serious Eats” called it a “standout”. “Untapped” bestowed it a 3.66 rating with some of the commentators describing it as “Amazing”, “Yum” and “Spicy”. “Beeronomics” claimed, “It is about the most interesting beer you’ll ever taste”, while “be Portland” commented “the most original tasting beers I’ve had”. Burnside Brewing called it “infamous” and “big bad apricot pepper bombshell” at the release.
The topic of “Kali-Ma” beer was reportedly raised in the upper house of India’s Parliament on May 15 with demand of immediate summoning of US ambassador. According to reports, it was stated in Rajya Sabha in India’s capital New Delhi on this issue that the religious feelings of Hindus were being hurt. Is there no manufacturing code there, it was said.
In an announcement published on their Facebook page on May 11, the Company wrote: In response to pleas from the Hindu community we have decided to postpone the limited release of “Kali-ma” our imperial wheat ale flavored with Indian spices and Scotch-Bonnet peppers…to anyone we have offended we sincerely apologize.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that Goddess Kali was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay.
Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan Zed argued.
Zed further said that such trivialization of Goddess Kali was disturbing to the Hindus world over. Hindus were for free expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more, but faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the devotees, Zed pointed out and added that businesses should be respectful to various faith traditions.
“Kali-Ma” the beer was earlier announced as spiced wheat ale involving cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, India dandicut peppers, etc., and showed the picture of Goddess with four arms and three severed heads. Jason McAdam is the brew-master at the Company.
Goddess Kali, who personifies Sakti or divine energy, is widely worshipped in Hinduism. She is considered the goddess of time and change. Some Bengali poets described her as supreme deity. Moksh (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.