Frederick Douglass made his feelings about alcohol quite clear. The noted abolitionist and one-time Rochester resident said that Southern slave masters plied their slaves with alcohol to control them and to keep them from escaping.
"In order to make a man a slave, it is necessary to silence or drown his mind," Douglass said in a March 1846 speech given in Paisley, Scotland.
Despite Douglass's sentiments, Three Heads Brewing plans to unveil a Freddy D lager sometime after its new brewery and tasting room opens on Atlantic Avenue in Rochester's Neighborhood of the Arts in about a month.
A post announcing the new lager on the company's Facebook page features an image of Douglass under a red banner, "Freddy D Lager." Reactions in the comments range from excitement over the new beer to disappointment in Three Heads' use of the name despite Douglass's condemnation of spirits.
One writer suggests that a nonalcoholic brew might be a better choice.
Dan Nothnagle, president of Three Heads Brewing, says that the beer might give a boost to the Douglass name and prompt discussion about this important man and his work.
And no one knows how Douglass would feel about alcohol if he were alive today, Nothnagle says.
"I think times have changed a lot," he says. "And whether slave masters used alcohol as a way to calm people or to belittle slaves back then, I think society in general accepts alcohol now."
Fittingly, Nothnagle says, Freddy D will be made with Liberty hops.
Three Heads has given some of its other beers names with local significance, too, including the Cobbs Hill Black Lager.
Freddy D Lager will be available at the brewery, Nothnagle says, and throughout Western New York in bottles and on draft.