Last Call: Scofflaw, BrewDog Caught in Controversy Again; Rivertowne Brewing Headed to Auction

Scofflaw’s UK Foray Marred by ‘Rogue’ Press Release

Atlanta’s Scofflaw Brewing, which made headlines last year for posting an obscene photo to Facebook that taunted opinionated customers, has stirred the pot once again – this time dragging the brash marketers at BrewDog, who are also known for offending the craft beer community, along for the ride.

In the latest kerfuffle, an advertising agency, the “Frank” PR firm, retained by Scofflaw to help promote a series of U.K. launch events, sent an unauthorized press release to “thousands of journalists” that encouraged supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump to show up at bars owned by BrewDog for a free pint of Scofflaw’s suds.

Scofflaw, which has a contract brewing arrangement with BrewDog’s U.S. subsidiary, had recently announced plans to bolster that partnership via an export agreement with the Scottish craft brewer.

At the time of that announcement, Scofflaw co-founder Matt Shirah characterized his export objective as “simple.”

“We’re coming over to showcase independent beer and redneck hospitality,” he said.

But that “redneck hospitality,” which was again referenced in the email from Frank PR, was apparently never supposed to indicate support for Trump, who the red state of Georgia helped elect in 2016.

“This post is absolute nonsense,” Shirah said in a press release. “While we definitely have country roots, no one at Scofflaw Brewing or those associated with our brand is now or has ever been, rooted in hate. We do not tolerate hate — that’s just idiotic.”

Immediately following the pitch, which Frank PR has since accepted responsibility for, BrewDog co-founder James Watt began backpedaling.

“We had no idea about the Scofflaw press release or the plans they announced today for the events,” he tweeted. “We in no way are aligned with their position and we will of course be cancelling all the events and sending all of the beer back.”

Both Watt and Shirah have claimed they had no prior knowledge of the promotion, but that didn’t stop a flood of angry social media posts that poured in after the misstep.

Both BrewDog and Scofflaw are known for their divisive marketing tactics and shock value stunts. Last month, BrewDog attempted to promote a new streaming TV service by launching a PornHub-esque website ( filled with sexual innuendos and an assortment of clips from their network’s shows.

That gimmick was also met with backlash, prompting the Scottish brewery to delete the site entirely.

The continued over-the-top attempts to garner attention now have some people questioning whether this all part of an elaborate ruse, a la Ryan Holiday’s 2012 “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” book, which details the marketer’s controversial PR campaigns.

“James at Brewdog is a media genius,” Joseph Tucker, RateBeer executive director, wrote on Facebook. “And this stunt is among his finest ever.”

Scofflaw and BrewDog’s possible hoodwinking notwithstanding, the incident is the latest political fiasco to touch an Atlanta brewery in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Monday Night Brewing came under fire for allowing controversial Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp to host an event inside its taproom.

Rivertowne Brewing on the Auction Block

After filing for bankruptcy protection in early May, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Rivertowne Brewing will be put up for sale at a bankruptcy auction next month, according to the Tribune-Review.

At least six interested buyers are expected to make offers for the company, and another 240 potential bidders have been made aware of the sale, the outlet reported.

Bids for the company, and its four restaurants, start at $1.35 million – the offer submitted by Boston-based Gordon Brothers Commercial & Industrial LLC, an investment and lending firm — and must be received by October 10 at 5 p.m.

The Times-Tribune, citing Rivertowne’s attorney, reported that a “closed-door auction for qualified bidders will be held October 12 and an open hearing in bankruptcy court is planned for October 16.”

New Jersey ABC Imposes New Rules on Breweries

In a blow to small New Jersey breweries, regulators from the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control have issued a “special ruling” that restricts the number of “special events” a beer company can host annually, among other regulations, according to multiple media reports.

Announced Monday, the new ruling restricts breweries to hosting 25 special events – such as trivia and live music nights – and limits the number of special off-premise sales permits companies can acquire to 12. Breweries will also now only be able to host 52 private parties annually.

Despite the new rules, which are being studied as part of a pilot project until official regulations are implemented, breweries did gain the ability to sell other items such as snacks, soda and water. However, they will no longer be allowed to invite outside vendors, including food trucks, to sell food at their locations. Breweries are also not allowed to provide menus for customers looking to order outside food.

Additional details are available in the links below.



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