Nov 27 2017

The Death of Death from Above


Death from Above began its life with a different name.

Originally brewed in 2013 for Melbourne’s GABS festival it was inspired by Francis Ford Coppola’s classic anti-war epic Apocalypse Now and was originally to be called Hopocalypse Now. It seemed a fitting name for a beer that combined an aggressive American hopping regime with Vietnamese mint, mango, chilli and lime. This pop cultural reference also guided the art for the beer, riffing on the image of helicopters swarming past the setting sun.

Unfortunately, New Zealand brewing’s occasional collaborators The Four Horsemen of the Hopocalypse took umbrage to this name, so at short notice we changed it to Death from Above. The name is a reference to the motto of the US Army Airborne Division who feature in the movie’s iconic Ride of the Valkyries scene. It’s also the name of a band I’m fond of (Death from Above 1979) and at the time the chance to make two pop cultural reference in one beer pushed this name over the line for me.

Four years later, and due to its popularity, a beer that was originally designed to be a one off has become a regular brew at the Garage. As is often the case, when something becomes part of your everyday life you stop paying attention to its meaning.

However, it has become clear in the last couple of days that, separated from its original context, the name has deeply upset a great many people.

All I can say in response is that no offence was ever intended. The name was a pop cultural reference. It was never meant to be taken as an endorsement of military aggression or the use of napalm, or to be a racial slur of any type - quite the opposite. Apocalypse Now is certainly not a pro-war movie, and this beer was certainly never meant to be a pro-war beer.

However, while some have understood the intended reference, many have not and have been understandably offended.

In response I can only say that this was never my intention. It upsets me deeply to think that anyone would think of the Garage as being racist, or as glorifying acts of violence which wrought only misery and destruction on a country. For the record, racism sucks and violence, on the whole, is a shit way of solving international disputes.

For this reason I will not be brewing this beer again under this name.

For those who I have offended, please accept my genuine apology.

For those who love this beer, please also accept my apology. Brewing and beer should above all be fun, but it does not take place in a vacuum separated from our broader community. The offence I’ve caused, though unintended, saddens me greatly. There’s no fun in that.

We may at some point brew this beer again under another name... but not in the near future.

Pete

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