[CONTENT WARNING: Derogatory representations of sex workers, transphobia]
I’ve always sensed something instinctively repulsive about Brewdog, a “punk craft brewery” *tactical boak* who rely on a crowdfunding model to support their ever-expanding operation of beards and stupidly named gaseous beverages. I’ve just not quite been able to put my finger on what it was until fairly recently.
Then I heard one phrase and it all fell into place,“Brewdog patter.”
I was beyond intoxicated at the time and needed no explanation as to what was being referred to. For those of you unfortunate enough to be sober, I should perhaps explain: Brewdog patter is the kind of chat you get from guys whose attempts at being “right on” trendsetters fails to hide the fact they’re ignorant, tedious arseholes. They’ll sprattle on about how they’re totes feminists who love peace/the gays, hate the racists and want to change the world, one bitcoin operated craft beer at a time, despite exactly zero women, gay people, people of colour or people in general ever wanting to be within about a billion miles of them or their awful chat. Or as one source told A Thousand Flowers, “They want to market their beer with their sick, twisted, rad, edgy dudeness through a product/social experience/venue/supermarket stall/brand/public image which then celebrates their inherent dense xenophobia.”
Brewdog and the associated top bants is the work of James Watt and Martin Dickie, who despite referring to investors as “equity punks” own a mere 75% of what they (very optimistically) claim is a £283m business. There has often been the suggestion that the Brewdog millionaires maybe aren’t the radical dudes who’re taking on the establishment in quite the way their marketing makes out. Back in 2011, Snipe recounted how owner James Watt invited various foodies to one of his venues for what they described as “a tasting and a creepy rant.” Discussing he and Dickie’s attendance at an awards ceremony, Watt is quoted as saying,
A feminist quizzed us on the appropriateness of calling a beer ‘Trashy Blonde’ and using the word ‘lesbian’ in some of our promotional material. To which Martin responded;
‘I have nothing against lesbians at all, in fact I have some DVDs at home of just lesbians’.
Cool story bros. When they aren’t using homophobia for lolz, they can be found…using homophobia for lolz. The last time the pair earned the ire of A Thousand Flowers was during the Sochi Games, when Brewdog joined a plethora of big companies attempting to kid on they suddenly gave a shit about gay people and/or really hated Russia. Launching a beer called “My Name Is Vladimir” and marketing it as being “not for gays” while insinuating it’s really Putin who’s gay – and being gay is hilarious…right? – doesn’t win you any cookies…as we said at the time,
“Where to begin. Let’s start with the bottle itself, with Putin covered in make-up, because men wearing lipstick and eyeliner is pretty fucking gay, right? Gay people do that shit, yeah? If anything, BrewDog are guilty of continuing a narrative where LGBTQ people are merely seen as the “other”, where it’s fine to make stereotypes about their dress and lifestyle, as long as it’s done in an “affectionate” way. Except that LGBTQ people look like, well, everybody else. We don’t all wear blusher, not all of us identify with drag culture, and it continues this depiction of LGBTQ people as ‘not real’ men or woman, who all dress the opposite of the way straight people do because they’re different. By the way, donating 50% of profits to “charities that represent oppressed minorities around the world” does not give you a carte blanche to make these lazy generalisations about LGBTQ people. Watt’s commentary here is particularly illuminating as well: again creating these societal myths of what non-straight people are supposed to get up to – being half naked, lounging in furniture that wouldn’t look out of place in Tipping the Velvet etc etc.”
Brewdog’s latest ad campaign is, without doubt, the lowest point in the history of Brewdog “patter”. There can be absolutely no case for this being well-intentioned, its sole purpose is to attract investment to make and sell booze. Before I go any further, it’s probably fair to allow you to view this for monstrosity for yourself:
[AGAIN: CONTENT WARNING for Derogatory representations of sex workers, transphobia and awful Brewdog patter]
I cannae claim to be an expert on all things punk but I’m pretty sure a couple of smug businessmen attempting to attract investment by mocking sex workers, trans women and people who beg is about as far away from the punk ethos as anyone can get. The establishment will not exactly be Shiting Themselves I.P.A. at the actions of these two roasters.
This would all be infinitely less offensive if Brewdog didn’t cling on to the image they’re doing something different, part of a “craft beer revolution”, as if casual misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and generally acting like spoilt rich manbabies makes them unique in the world of brewing/business/the world. Truth is, most multi million pound companies would have a bit more sense than to pick on people so blatantly to punt their gear.
The predictable response was that it’s was all just a big joke and it’s “a shame” people got offended. There was also this threat,
We have a history of supporting and championing the LGBT community, and will continue doing so. Watch this space.
I’d personally rather not stare into the abyss, in the hope that liberation will be delivered by these two dudebros, who’ve consistently been shite about pretty basic stuff, like not using communities as gimmicks to make themselves rich.
Today we’ve had yet another statement, claiming the only people being ridiculed in the video were the founders themselves. A bit of basic linguistic analysis, as opposed to patter, would suggest this is false. The hashtag #dontmakeusdothis which is used in the video means just that; don’t make us (rich, white, straight venture capitalists) reduce ourselves to the level of these people (sex workers, trans women, people who beg) because them having to “do this” would be completely demeaning.
Unfortunately Brewdog patter has existed long before the company did and it will probably exist long after James and Martin are gone. It isn’t original or funny or challenging or radical and it’s certainly not punk, it’s just the same horrendous stuff we’ve all had to put up with for years.
So whether you prefer to call them equity spunks, craft shafters or just good old-fashioned wankers – James Watt and Martin Dickie, your Brewdog patter has earned your our top slot this week. Will we be back to support and champion you again? Watch. This. Space.