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It was inevitable that a brewery choosing to brand its beers by exits on the New Jersey Turnpike would come in for criticism. Even we were surprised by Cherry Hill-based Flying Fish‘s decision, which carried with it the distinct stench of commercial suicide. But then we went to Savor and sampled the Exit 4 American Trippel. Tammy ranked it highly, and Bruce declared it to be the finest new beer at the entire event. It’s a perfectly balanced blend of bitter hops and malt, delicately flavored with hints of citrus that are just that: hints, not the overpowering tastes that often mar American attempts at Belgian styles.
But with the release of the series’ latest offering, a hoppy wheat beer dubbed Exit 11, the brewery has finally met opposition that will not be placated by a damn fine beer. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has attacked Flying Fish’s marketing scheme, alleging that linking beer to driving is, well, irresponsible. “The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn’t make any kind of sense,” says Mindy Lazar, executive director of MADD’s New Jersey chapter. “This is almost a mockery.” (It’s worth noting the New Jersey Highway Authority has also expressed unease at the possible perception that it’s in some way sponsoring Flying Fish’s beers.)
MADD’s argument, an obvious one for anyone worried about drunk drivers (this should include you), appears to have fallen on deaf ears. In the days following MADD’s verbal attacks, hundreds of Flying Fish supporters contacted the brewery to express their support and the local newspaper rallied to its defense. From a statement posted to the brewery’s website:
You may have seen or heard one of the many national news reports about Exit 11 and how MADD was mad. We appreciate the hundreds of folks who emailed us expressing support and incredulity that naming a beer after an exit promoted drinking and driving. Fortunately common sense prevailed and we are full speed ahead (on the production line that is).
But, seeing as the Turnpike has 29 exits, there’ll be ample opportunity for this fight to continue, hopefully as Flying Fish releases more outstanding beers.