This Seattle Brewery Makes Waves With Its Pro-Choice Messaging

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Future Primitive Brewing Company just released an IPA in cans emblazoned with “Their Body, Their Choice” and it’s expected to sell out in a flash. Here’s why the founders of this craft brewery feel it’s essential to put their support for reproductive rights out there in these highly politically charged times.

Founded by friends

This project was launched by a group who’d been in the craft beer industry for years. Shortly before its debut in 2018, Kendall Jones of Washington Beer Blog wrote that it was one of the most highly anticipated openings in years: The ownership team of Mike Baker, Dean Hudgins, Ian Roberts, Kevin Watson and Larry Soloman “bring a lot of experience and know-how to the table.”

Head brewer Watson, for instance, had worked at the sprawling Elysian Fields, which is now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Hudgins and Roberts are owners of the popular Pine Box bar on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Early on, the Future Primitive mission was clear: Making stellar beer while embracing social justice and celebrating local creatives. For instance, they created an IPA called Rebel Girl to honor a local activist and musician, Kathleen Hanna. The beer’s description was a stirring tribute and a call to action: “the influential and very much alive Pacific Northwest native and front woman of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin, and others has been helping lead the charge toward gender equality and safe spaces for women and children for over three decades. To find out more, visit SafePlaceOlympia.org.”

The Future Primitive team made an Imperial Stout called Black is Beautiful, dedicating a portion of the proceeds to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. That was part of an international collaboration with nearly 1,000 breweries across 19 countries, spearheaded by Weathered Soul Brewing in San Antonio.

And one of its best-sellers is a German-style Pilsner that’s labeled Nazi Punks F**K Off: “In an era of misinformation, malfeasance, malevolence, and milquetoast politics we are reminded that the deleterious flames of fascism do still flicker even in the light of day; sowing fear and contempt in order to feed its unworthy self. And who but us shall smother those flames with resilient persistence, leaving ashes cold, forgotten, and windblown; giving life anew to righteous compassion and joyful prosperity.”

Pretty bold stuff.

“I feel like most left-leaning business owners are reluctant to put views out there because they fear alienating customers, but we’re a smaller company with punk rock roots and I think we decided if we’re not standing up for ideals in a public way, what are we really doing,” Watson said in a phone interview. “We think it’s important to be loud. Yes, we’re trying to pay the rent, but we’re also about drawing attention to a good cause.”

For Roberts, the incentive is deeply personal: “I’ve got two small kids, two daughters and I’m trying hard to leave the world a better place. That’s not happening right now and it’s terrifying.”

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Super cool collabs

Finding the connection between music and beer isn’t a stretch in this corner of the country. One of the brewery’s first high-profile projects was a collaboration with the band Thunderpussy, a release of a beer to celebrate the landmark Supreme Court decision allowing members to trademark the name. The team was introduced to these dynamos by a former bartender who was a friend.

It was a fun project that led to more crossover and the continued flexing of Future Primitive’s evocative prose to describe the partnership that yielded an IPA like no other: “Drinking this beer may cause side effects such as consciousness expansion, higher frequency vibration, extreme levels of STOKE, and the ability to proudly scream ‘Thunderpussy!’ in crowded spaces. The combination of Amarillo, Cashmere, Galaxy, HS-Sitiva, and Mosaic hops may taste expensive, but hey, you have expensive taste.”

Their Body Their Choice

When Roe was overturned by the Supreme Court in June, the team at Future Primitive was immediately activated, announcing the release of Her Body Her Choice. It sold out in days with a portion of the proceeds donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds.

The latest iteration of the IPA is meant to be more inclusive and, already, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. “We’ve heard from a lot of transpeople and their families that they’re grateful. They’ve thanked us for seeing them,” Roberts said.

Consumers will certainly see the large typeface used on the cans of this limited release and that’s no accident: “We didn’t want the message to get lost.”

There’s an extra bonus that goes along with this kind of effort, the business partners agreed. “We’ve had such positive feedback from our wholesale customers,” Roberts said. “Some — like Highland Park Corner Store — have even done their own fundraising around this project.”

While there are no special events planned around the latest launch, the Future Primitive Taproom is always a lively destination with a revolving lineup of food vendors including Lenox Afro Latin Soul Food and Farm Boy Bites.

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