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Top Totty – What’s The Issue?

By Tom Mayor
5th February, 2012

It is hardly a hidden trait that many beers are given peculiar or quirky names. Old Peculiar, Bishops Finger, Old Fart, Cornish Knocker, Bitter and Twisted and Black Sheep are fine examples of Great British beers. Slater’s Brewery, being fairly new to the game compared with many breweries, was established in 1995 and produces many great tasting ales. The brew at the centre of the Parliament Bar storm is its prize-winning offering, Top Totty. Indeed, it won the SIBA Gold Award in 2006.  

Kate Green claimed that the label for this beer was offensive. It shows a bikini-clad blonde lady serving a tray of beer, presumably the Top Totty brand.

What is strange about this story is that Ms Green finds the label offensive and within 90 minutes, this great beer is banned from the Westminster watering hole. No investigations, no discussions with Trading Standards, indeed no enquiries at all. Ms Green finds it offensive and it seems that is all that is needed to rid a place of the root cause.

Slater’s describe the beer as a stunning full bodied, blonde beer with a voluptuous hop aroma, hence the connection with a voluptuous blonde lady on the label.

Is it me, or is anyone else reading this finding it really difficult to make sense of this story? Apparently the issue was debated in the House, again at Ms Green’s beck and call, to discuss ‘dignity at work in Parliament’.  Maybe MPs would be better to re-think their attitudes to drinking at work because I can’t think of any other employers that would uphold a view that it is dignified to have a bar in the work place.

What is offensive here? Perhaps it is the name, Top Totty, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary is a late 19th century term meaning, sexually desirable female(s). The Urban Dictionary claims the same meaning that be used for male or female. 

Perhaps it’s the picture on the label: the scantily clad bunny girl image. Well, maybe Slater’s should have followed The Sun newspaper’s way and not bothered with the bikini.  Seriously, unless you are going to rid every street, every paper, every film of what many women refer to as ‘exploitation’, then you simply cannot be offended by a label on a beer pump in a bar, whether or not that boozer happens to be in your place of work.

Incidentally, how much does Ms Green get paid to be an MP?  I think there are greater issues regarding equality that she and other MPs should be channelling their energy into.

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