BrewDog generates media blitz and mixed response to new 'transgender beer'

BrewDog has shown its continued ability to court controversy and generate press coverage with its new "transgender beer", which received measured criticism from campaign group Stonewall but generally favourable coverage in LGBT-focused media.

BrewDog: Stonewall is "concerned about the language" used around latest beer
BrewDog: Stonewall is "concerned about the language" used around latest beer

The launch of No Label, described by the brewer as "the world's first non-binary, transgender beer", comes as the firm opens a new bar in London’s Soho. According to BrewDog, the 4.6 per cent ABV beer is brewed with hops that have changed from female to male. "We have used these to emphasise that, just like humans, beer can be whatever the hell it wants to be, and proud of it," the firm said.

The launch has received much coverage today in national newspapers including The Independent, The Sun and The Mirror. Some include a comment from Stonewall that says: "While it’s encouraging to see BrewDog raising money for trans youth communities, and we like the ‘No Label’ concept, we’re concerned about the language.

"The trans community is diverse - many trans people do not transition, or identify with binary genders, and BrewDog’s language undermines that."

However, much of it also includes a statement from campaign and events organiser Queerest of the Queer, which is one LGBT organisation that BrewDog said would receive some profits from the beer’s sale.

"Dr J", co-founder of Queerest of the Queer, stated: "We see a huge number of parallels between BrewDog and Queerest of the Queer – we’re cut from the same cloth and believe in much the same things.

"Inclusivity is a huge deal for us, and is at the heart of everything we do. When we met the BrewDog team recently, we discussed what it means to live beyond the L and G in LGBTQI+ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex], and delved deeper into the areas where labels don’t really translate anymore. BrewDog was super responsive and respectful and we could see their approach to diversity and inclusivity in brewing is pretty close to what it means to Queerest of the Queer."

The release of the new beer follows controversy in September when BrewDog was accused of running an offensive advert for its latest fundraising drive that featured the group’s founders dressed as sex workers.

Joe Sinclair, creative director of The Romans, which recently replaced Manifest London as BrewDog's PR agency, told PRWeek that No Label's launch received supportive coverage in LGBTQI media, including Pink News, Gay Times and Gay Star News.

The latter publication quotes Jennie Kermode of Trans Media Watch saying: "We welcome BrewDog’s support for trans charities, but we hope it will show more sensitivity and awareness in promoting this beer than it did in its recent advert, which a lot of trans people were unhappy about. We also hope the beer is good enough to do justice to its name."

The news co-incides with today’s launch of BrewDog co-founder James Watt’s new book Business for Punks: Break All the Rules. It caused controversy by suggesting that brands do not need to have a marketing or PR budget to build a profile, with some commentators highlighting the irony that PR agency Manifest London had the remit to support the book’s launch.

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