Atlanta’s Scofflaw Brewing Co. officially responded to the controversial press release sent and then retracted by U.K. PR company Frank on Thursday. The initial release, supposedly sent to nearly 11,000 journalists and news outlets, promoted free drinks to Trump supporters at BrewDog breweries across the U.K. The two breweries were working together on a set of events to launch their new partnership.
Scofflaw is pinning the blame on the PR company.
Part of the official statement reads: “Appalled by the inaccurate posts concocted this morning on their behalf, Scofflaw Brewing Co. demands the UK agency, Frank PR, which was hired to promote its UK tour, to take accountability for its misrepresentation.”
The brewery goes on to acknowledge Frank PR’s retraction email, stating in all caps that the first press release was “incorrect information” and not a “message from the brand” asking recipients to “not run the piece.”
“This post is absolute nonsense,” Scofflaw owner Matt Shirah says of the original 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.”
The statement ends by touting the brewery’s “hard work” and “humble beginnings” as the reasons behind its success, claiming that the company could “care less about your political viewpoint, only if you like our beer.”
In an interview with Atlanta’s Beer Street Journal, Shirah is more forthright about the situation, saying Frank PR “went out on their own” and the press release was sent “without my consent or review,” they “made it up,” and it’s “fiction.”
Both BrewDog and Scofflaw deny sending the original press release.
Meanwhile, Frank PR issued the following apology, essentially pinning the entire thing on one rogue employee:
“On 27th September, a statement was released to media by an individual employee of Frank without Scofflaw’s approval. The reputation of our client is of utmost importance and we are taking this matter seriously. The employee has been suspended while an investigation takes place. We apologise to Scofflaw, BrewDog and anyone that may have been offended by these actions.”
It seems odd an employee of a well-established public relations firm would devise a controversial idea, draft a release, and distribute it to several thousand media outlets without internal approval or approval from the client. But, that’s where things stand.
The partnership plan between the breweries was to ship and distribute Scofflaw’s Basement IPA and POG (passionfruit, orange and guava) to all of BrewDog’s 36 U.K. locations. BrewDog quickly cancelled the Scofflaw-related events following backlash over the original press release. BrewDog’s initial partnership with Scofflaw dates back to 2017. The Atlanta brewery brews and cans some of its beers at BrewDog’s Ohio facility.
Scofflaw is not commenting on the future of the partnership with BrewDog, telling Eater Atlanta there is “nothing to say.”
Update: September 28, 11:45 a.m.: This story was updated with the apology from Frank PR and Scofflaw’s “no comment” on the partnership.