BrewDog on Wednesday launched "No Label," a "non-binary, transgender beer" that is made using a variety of hops that changes sex prior to harvest. The founder of outspoken Scottish craft brewery BrewDog says its new "transgender" beer is not a gimmick and is a genuine effort to help the LBGT community.
But the beer has provoked some backlash in the LBGT community. A spokesperson for charity Stonewall told the Independent it was "concerned about the language" in the campaign, saying it could "undermine" the community. Some people have also taken to Twitter to criticise BrewDog's apparent use of transgender identity as a marketing ploy.
The launch of the beer coincides with the opening of BrewDog's new bar in Soho, London. The area was once the city's red light district but is now a more mainstream nightlife hotspot. BrewDog said in a statement that the new beer is "designed to reflect the diversity of the area and champion inclusivity."
James Watt, the founder and CEO of BrewDog, told Business Insider that the beer was not a gimmick or marketing ploy and is a genuine attempt to help the LGBTQI+ community. Watt told Business Insider: "People have got to look at what we've done here. We've worked with the charity Queerest of the Queer to put this together. They co-designed the packaging, they worked with us on the project, we're donating all the proceeds of sales of this beer to charity."
BrewDog has a history of using high-profile PR stunts to boost its business, doing everything from driving a tank through the City of London to dropping taxidermied cats from a helicopter. The brewery also recently ran into trouble over a promotional video that critics claimed mocked transgender and homeless people.
Watt says the beer wasn't a response to the recent criticism of BrewDog's recent video, saying: "It was already in the works." He says: "We've got a history of doing beers that help things we feel passionate about and that help minority groups such as Hello My Name is Vladimir. People need to look at this in the context. We have worked with a charity to put this project together."
Hello My Name is Vladimir was a beer launched last year to protest Russia's anti-gay laws. Fifty-percent of the profits from the beer went to charity.
Watt says of No Label: "It was a project we wanted to execute and it was important to do this one with someone who was active in that community and it was also important to give the profits of the beer to the community.
"I think it was also important to make a beer that tastes fantastic but also messed about with unusual hops that have gone through this kind of gender change and in a style which is a Kolsch, which is somewhere in between an ale and a lager. The whole thing just blurs the boundaries of identity."