Brewdog, Lone Wolf, Bark & Bite
The well known brewer and pub operator Brewdog has gathered publicity this week by threatening a Birmingham pub, Lone Wolf, with legal action because it was using the same name as the spirits brand Brewdog is launching.
After publicity in the Guardian and elsewhere it backed down saying its lawyers were ‘trigger happy’
It becomes the second company in a few days to back off a position after media exposure. Pret withdrew its plan not to pay trainees at the weekend.
Brewdog is styled very much as an anti-corporate brewer so threatening legal action hardly fits with the brand image. Of course if someone launched a pub chain called Brewwoof selling a beer called Plunk ipa at least a lawyers letter would be expected. But a pub in Birmingham?
It speaks to a culture. As a union officer I represent lawyers and one phrase I would not use to describe them is trigger happy. They are professionals who act on instruction. The episode suggests that at senior levels in Brewdog there are suit wearers who do not really grasp the ethos the company is supposed to represent.
It happens but if Brewdog wants to continue its distinctive brand and image it needs to be sorted out. They could always recognise a union of course that might tell them this for free in-house.
Meanwhile its worth recalling that another brewery Camden once threatened legal action against West London brewer Weird Beard because they had had the temerity to brew a beer- with Brewdog Camden- that had the word Camden in it. Camden is a London Borough and not a copyright name. Weird Beard backed down though because whatever the outcome lawyers cost money.
It was a sign that the corporate mindset had seized control at Camden and before long it was no longer independent but part of a giant multinational brewco. When that happened Brewdog stopped selling Camden’s beers.
Let’s hope this incident, tough as it was for the unfortunate Birmingham pub makes Brewdog root out those suit wearers in its ranks.
None of this by the way means Brewdog dont brew some good beers- they do- or that I wont be visiting their bars- I will. It is simply an observation on how the corporate mindset can intrude and takeover.
Thanks to Megan Davies who suggested the idea of the post and who I discussed it with