Scotland-based craft beer giant BrewDog is opening an Atlanta location next year at the Stove Works complex just off of the Eastside Beltline in Inman Park, across from Krog Street Market. According to a press release, BrewDog’s 12,000-square-foot bar will feature 28 taps offering a few beers brewed on site, a beer school, outdoor seating, and serve pub food.
Since its founding in 2007, the BrewDog brand has rapidly expanded to include brewpubs, breweries, and hotels in countries like Germany and Australia, and the United States in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.
However, earlier in June, hundreds of former BrewDog employees accused the UK craft beer behemoth and owners James Watt and Martin Dickie of fostering a “culture of fear”, misrepresenting accomplishments on social media, and claiming the company is eco-friendly while possibly not conducting business in an eco-friendly manner.
In an open letter, published on the website “Punks With Purpose”, former staff members accused BrewDog of being “built on a cult of personality,” with many claiming the toxic work environment at the company caused “a significant number of people” to suffer from mental illness as a result.
Watt was called out personally for his part in the alleged “rotten culture lies” and “valuing growth, speed and action above all else” at the expense of BrewDog employees. He later apologized on behalf of the company, stating on Twitter that the brewery was focused “not on contradicting or contesting the details of [the] letter, but to listen, learn, and act.”
The public letter was spurred on by recent allegations of sexism, racism, and harassment in the beer industry shared anonymously in the stories of Instagram account Embolden Act Advance since its formation at the end of May. BrewDog is one of a number of breweries named in stories shared on the Instagram account over the last month, along with several Atlanta breweries.
When reached for comment, a representative for BrewDog referred Eater to previous public statements from Watt regarding the allegations by former employees. In response to the letter, BrewDog plans to conduct an independent review of the company, which apparently will include an anonymous employee survey, the formation of an employee representative group, and career development and training.
I wanted to share a quick update on the open letter from former BrewDog team members. pic.twitter.com/yKPtKpfUmM— James Watt (@BrewDogJames) June 10, 2021
This isn’t the first controversy BrewDog has found itself in the middle of since its founding. In 2017, the multi-million dollar company threatened legal action against a family-owned bar in order to prevent it from using the name Lone Wolf. BrewDog had just recently launched a spirit of the same name. The brewery withdrew the legal threats following social media backlash, blaming its “trigger-happy” lawyers.
Just this past March, a BrewDog bar in Indianapolis was accused of discrimination after the mass firing of women and LGBTQ staff members there. The reason for the firings was allegedly due to the new general manager claiming BrewDog “wanted a change in culture,” VinePair reported in April. The company later said the phrasing used to fire the Indianapolis employees “was not sanctioned and would not be how we communicate performance issues.”
Then, there are the questionable PR stunts and misfires, including a trademark dispute with the estate of Elvis Presley over a beer called Elvis Juice that also led both Watt and Dickie to claim they changed their names officially to Elvis, creating a sexist “beer for girls”, and the controversial press release in 2018 involving Atlanta-based Scofflaw Brewing Co. offering free beer to Trump supporters.
According to trade publication Brewbound, BrewDog’s B Corp certification is now under review by B Lab in New York following a complaint filed by another former employee for harmful business practices.
A spokesperson for Asana Partners, the developer behind the Stove Works and newly rebranded Krog Street District, declined to comment on the allegations brought forth by former employees of BrewDog.
112 Krog Street, Atlanta. brewdog.com.
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- How the UK’s Biggest Craft Beer Brewery Got Its Gender Pay Gap Messaging So Wrong [ELD]