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grudgingly accepted the labeling restrictions.
Following a very wide interpretation of these post-Prohibition guidelines, the BATF claimed that the word “Power” violated federal law. Heileman was allowed to sell its existing stock of PowerMaster for the next four months but would have to stop any advertising of the product.
In a statement by G. Heileman after the BATF’s decision, the brewery acknowledged the financial burden that continued litigation over the issue would entail. In the midst of reorganization, the brewery decided to take their medicine and move on.
When pressed by reporters as to how the PowerMaster label could have been approved by the BATF and then suddenly pulled after lobbying by anti-drink proponents, Dan Black, deputy director of the bureau and associate director of compliance operations at the BATF explained away the action. “With upwards of 80,000 labels a year…sometimes these things happened.”
St. Sabina pastor Pfleger, was overjoyed by the BATF ruling. “When we are spiritually strong, there’s no problem we cannot overcome. We have a serious alcohol problem in the [African-American] community, and this means that something worse won’t be added to it,” said Pfleger, then added “Big business better watch out if it’s doing wrong.”
A scant month after Fathers Pfleger and Celements were savoring their victory, another local anti-drink group calling itself the Citywide Coalition Against Alcohol Billboards, loaded up a bus full of protestors and headed to Heileman’s offices in suburban Rosemont, Illinois to protest another malt liquor brewed by Heileman called St. Ides.
The group, led by Paul Kelly, director of alcohol and drug prevention at the Bobby Wright Health Center on South Kedzie Avenue, claimed that the La Crosse brewery had no limits in the production of its beer, especially its higher alcohol products. “Anything is permissible as long as it is for dollars,” said Kelly. “The advertising, it’s tied to gangs and sexual promiscuity. If gangs and promiscuity are not major agendas that have to be addressed in the African-American community, there are none. They are taking dollars. We are taking lives.”
At the time, St. Ides was gaining popularity in the black community, especially after rap and movie star Ice Cube was making commercials for the beer. After the beer was highlighted in the movie, Boyz n the Hood, sales took off.
There was one little thing wrong with Heileman’s involvement with this malt liquor. It wasn’t their product, though they did contract brew the beer for the McKenzie Corporation out of San Francisco, California.
Meeting with the group of protestors, Hubert A. Nelson, Heileman’s marketing director, told them they were making a mistake in targeting Heileman. “We have nothing to do with the product,” said Nelson. “We brew the product under a special contract. We are like Maytag to Sears. We owned PowerMaster. We took total responsibility for that.”
“We will not take responsibility for St. Ides. So if you want to protest, I guess you can call them.”
Red pt 1: Heileman’s PowerMaster Comes And Goes by Bob Skilnik