From Wellheads to Foamy Heads: Through Thick with Thin

Among the onslaught of sidebar incidences to the oil spill in the Gulf has been the rise in the sale of all things people will produce and buy to benefit whatever oil-soiled situation is deemed appropriate. First and foremost, of course, are the ubiquitous t-shirts, which generally fall into one of two categories: those which simply bash BP with various sharp witticisms or outright anger, or the attire that carries some sort of environmental message about saving the wetlands, the pelicans, the Gulf itself.

My current personal favorite has the slogan ‘Give BP the bird’ with a graphic of an oil-soaked pelican giving the old one-finger salute. But no matter what your feelings on the whole issue anti-BP, pro-BP (yes, the oil and gas industry is a big part of the local economy – not everybody is bashing BP) or if you are just an environmentalist promotion wetlands and wildlife preservation, there is a way to express your views via the ol’ t-shirt. A quick Internet search garners 2,061 different ‘BP oil spill designs’ on one clothing website alone.

While always a fascinating way to track how the Gulf Coast region chronicles a crisis (Katrina paraphernalia is still worn and sold regularly and with vehemence) the bashing and save-this-or–that has predictably branched out from t-shirts and bumper stickers into anything that can be screen printed.

And beer.

The Abita brewery is a local institution that produces a wide range of very good, regionally available beers and ales. They are also very community oriented and sponsor a wide range of events; it was only a matter of time before they jumped on this cause.

They recently introduced a new, limited edition, 22 ounce bottle of beer called ‘SOS – A Charitable Pilsner’ (gotta love that slogan – ‘a charitable pilsner’ – it’s right there on the bottle, big font, beneath the logo.) SOS stands for ‘Save Our Shore’ and the bottle is really a neat work of art, with stylized, funky graphics featuring an SOS logo constructed of seafood, and other images of local gulf wildlife. Seventy-five cents of every bottle sold goes to a foundation Abita helped establish, and with a built in history of community involvement and such a popular product, it figured to go quickly.

BTW – this is not a new ‘good cause’ approach here; after Katrina, Abita launched Restoration Pale Ale along with a related line of merchandise, raising over half a million dollars for hurricane relief. Last year concoction was Abbey Ale, with designated proceeds benefiting the St. Joseph’s Abbey in nearby Covington. (Restoration Ale I can vouch for as tasty, I have yet to buy any beer to support the monks, but I sure don’t rule it out.)

Ahh, but only in Louisiana would the company have to issue a statement the day after introducing the product asking people to not hoard said product. Seems that between the artistic bottle, proceeds to the cause, and curiosity about the new brew itself (the 7% alcohol content probably helps a smidge.) people were snapping the stuff up like crazy – and not sharing the beer, as it were.

As the company wanted to get as much of the stuff out as possible, to as many people as possible, it seemed odd to me that they would be concerned with asking people to buy limited numbers of the product, but such is their nature….or maybe it’s just great marketing. Either way, the whole thing is an approach I just can’t picture being taken – at least not so vociferously – on my home turf in the Midwest.

Of course if you can’t get a bottle of SOS – a charitable pilsner – you can always go on line and do the new traditional support of the cause; buy an SOS t-shirt, ball cap, magnet or lapel pin – support the cause the good ol’ fashioned way.

Or you can come on down and join us for some charitable pilsner. Bottoms up, as it were, to helping those for who the bottom really did come up.

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