Update 9/28, 9 AM: Finally confirming Scofflaw’s story in regards a rogue press release that was sent on their behalf stating they would give away free beer to President Trump supporters in Brewdog bars, Frank. the publicist has issued a retraction. As Beer Street Journal mentioned yesterday, the failed promotion was invented solely by Frank. The company’s Facebook page mentions the following
Addtionally, UK journalists received late-day email retractions from the agency’s founder, Andrew Bloch. “You may have received an email with incorrect information regarding Scofflaw Brewery entering the UK market, encouraging Trump supporters to join them for a beer. PLEASE NOTE, THIS WAS INCORRECT INFORMATION AND IS NOT A MESSAGE FROM THE BRAND. Please accept my huge apologies for the confusion and do not run the piece.”
Upon seeing the original press release and social media backlash, Brewdog immediately canceled all events with Atlanta based Scofflaw Brewing and pulled all beer from their taps. Shirah and members of the brewery were in London promoting the launch. According to co-founder Matt Shirah, Brewdog never met with the brewery before taking the actions, starting their own “Hope, not Hate Promotion” on their own.
When asked about the fate of their partnerships and if Brewdog had contacted Scofflaw, Shirah stated “Nothing yet. Now we have to work to repair the damage that has been done to any of our relationships and reputations. I doubt we can recover in Europe, but the support from home has been overwhelming. I’m heading home now, as in I am in the air, so that I can spend time with our friends and brewery supporters”.
The original story appears below.
Atlanta based Scofflaw Brewing is spending the week in the United Kingdom, celebrating the launch of their hoppy lineup in the country thanks to partner BrewDog Brewing. The Scottish craft brewery has been contract brewing and packaging Scofflaw’s cans at their new Ohio facility for the last year while Scofflaw expands into a 50-barrel brewhouse.
The opportunity to expand the business partnership came up over the summer, with Brewdog offering to import Scofflaw’s lineup for the Brewdog guest taps in the UK.
The week was moving along smoothly until last night. Frank., a London based Public Relations Firm sent out a press release to their UK based list promoting Scofflaw and Brewdog joint events. Per the release – Scofflaw would give away free beer if the patrons would dress up as Trump supporters.
Outrage ensued, and social media excoriated Scofflaw for their stunt, prompting Brewdog to send out a tweet early this morning.
Beer Street Journal reached out to Matt Shirah for his side the story. Per Shirah, that press release was not authorized by him or his brewery.
According to Shirah, he made the decision to hire Frank. for the week to promote his joint events in the United Kingdom. The only press release Shirah, or Scofflaw authorized was the initial announcement of the brewery partnership and launch in the UK. Nothing else.
“I was unaware of any press release. The first one was the only one they were tasked to release, you saw the one. I gave them nothing else,” says Shirah.
When asked if Scofflaw Brewing or any brewery employee wrote, or authorized this press release, Shirah immediately responded “They did this without my consent or review. Just made it up. Fiction.”
“The PR firm, one agent, went out on their own. Maybe they don’t like Brewdog. Getting killed here. We can’t even leave the hotel room,” Shirah adds.
“Frank made it up and sent it. It was never a plan. never heard of it until it hit the press,” Shirah continues.
Shirah also mentions that Brewdog had no discussion with him or the brewing team. Brewdog saw the social media reaction and opted to pull the beer and end the partnership over Twitter, in public.
Beer Street Journal has repeatedly contacted Andrew Bloch, founder and managing partner of Frank. Our repeated requests for a statement have been denied. The firm has failed to respond to any request.
Scofflaw has been responding to angry fans on Instagram this morning. Another response to note:
scofflawbeer@thebrewbrotha we were blindsided. Did not come from @scofflawbeer and was not approved by @scofflawbeer. I think @brewdogofficialdid not know what happened either and just reacted. Ping @frankpublicity with questions. Sitting here trying to get them to respond and trying to the bottom of this…and reading all the threats I am getting. #happythursday
Additionally, this morning Scofflaw posted this to Instagram:
Brewdog’s official statement includes a few discussions on America’s politics, as well as offering free beer to people who stand up for “Hope, not Hate”. It’s also important to note that their mention of “Frank PR” erroneously refers to a New York PR firm. The publicst is based in London, and simply called “Frank.”
FREE BEERS FOR PEOPLE WHO STAND FOR HOPE, NOT HATE
Today we were the victim of Fake News, with Scofflaw falsely promoting an offer for Trump supporters in our bars that we had no idea about.
We’d like to again categorically confirm we did not know of, endorse or approve this promotion and as a result we’ll be sending all the Scofflaw beer from our bars back to the US. We had planned to stock their beers in our bars, and hold collaborative tasting events, but nobody ever mentioned anything about Trump to us.
We will also offer that free beer they promised, but this time it will be Punk IPA (or any of our other headliners) to anyone who shows up to our bars in the name of love not hate. All you need to do is tell the bar staff at any UK BrewDog bar, BrewDog Brussels or BrewDog Berlin Mitte you’re a lover not a hater, and we’ll pour you a free pint.
From what we can tell, the rogue press release about the weird Trump offer was sent to media without us ever seeing it, let alone agreeing to it, from Scofflaw’s PR agency, Frank PR. It’s not just that it wasn’t approved that is the issue for us here – it’s the fact that the offer directly contradicts our own views and values at BrewDog.
We’ve been pretty clear about our views here in the past. When The Donald pulled out of the Paris Accord, we produced a protest beer called Make Earth Great Again, drawing attention to the ingredients under threat from climate change and donating profits to climate change action group 10:10.
This story is developing. Check back for more details as they become available …