DuClaw Brewery's award-winning Sweet Baby Jesus beer was pulled from the shelves of Ohio-based grocery chain Heinen's after customers complained that they were offended by the use of the word Jesus in the beer's name. The dark ale, which Baltimore-based DuClaw describes as a chocolate peanut butter porter, was just introduced into the Ohio market five weeks ago. But the Baltimore-based brewery says it's not the first time customers have had an issue with the porter.
"It's happened twice on [military] bases," says DuClaw president David Benfield. In those instances, chaplains or higher-ranking officers were only able to keep Sweet Baby Jesus off shelves for a week or two before it returned due to demand.
The porter originally featured a less-offensive name while in development — "I can't remember for the life of me," says Benfield — but it was ultimately christened Sweet Baby Jesus when brewmaster Jim Wagner tried the one of the final test batches and exclaimed, "when I drink this beer, I think 'Sweet Baby Jesus!' I'm tasting chocolate and peanut butter in a beer." That's no over-reaction by Wagner, we like 'Sweet Baby Jesus so much that it made our list of the 100 Best Beers in the World. And at last year's Great American Beer Festival, it took a bronze medal in the chocolate beer category.
While Benfield hopes that one day the porter will make it back on Heinen's shelves, he says he can understand the grocery store's decision, "We have the utmost respect for Heinen's and we don't have any issues with them," he said. "Hopefully over time everyone will change their mind."
DuClaw Brewing sells its beers, including Sweet Baby Jesus, in eight states: Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, and most recently, Ohio.