Brewdog backtracks after social media barrage
Aberdeenshire-based Brewdog has reversed its decision to take legal action against The Wolf pub in Birmingham and has offered to reimburse rebranding costs, following a name row.
Owners of Birmingham pub The Wolf, formerly Lone Wolf, have claimed that “hypocritical” brewing powerhouse Brewdog threatened legal action if their pub’s name was not changed.
Brewdog recently launched vodka brand Lone Wolf, reputedly named after founder James Watt’s dog. However, The Wolf’s owners, Joshua and Sallie McFadyen, told The Guardian that they had chosen the name in 2015.
Sallie McFadyen explained that, “We had an email one day from their solicitors – and that was the first we knew of it – saying they had a trademarked spirit coming out. All our money has gone into refurbishing this place and getting it open and we don’t have the same money as they have. We were told we might have to incur their legal costs so we were panic-stricken.”
We are no longer LONE WOLF! After a nice solicitors letter from a big brewery we are now THE WOLF! We still sell awesome beers! #independent
— The Wolf Birmingham (@TheWolfBham) March 1, 2017
“It’s devastating because it was quite personal why we called it Lone Wolf. We’ve come round to it now but it is a bit hypocritical because they make a lot of public statements saying how much they support independence and they don’t like a big corporate attitude. It seems to go against what they stand for and it was done in such a harsh way,” she added.
The news has prompted vocal criticism of Brewdog’s actions on social media. Walsall-based microbrewery Backyard Brewhouse accused the company of being “just another multinational corporate machine,” while Released Records, a record label based in Leeds, claimed it had also received a solicitor’s letter from Brewdog as the word ‘Punk’ featured in its bar’s name.
— Released Records (@ReleasedUk) March 27, 2017
Twitter users have also highlighted the apparent duplicitous nature of Brewdog’s threat, given that the company found itself in a similar situation with its Elvis Juice IPA. Brewdog’s founders responded by changing their names to ‘Elvis.’
Following the backlash, James Watt apologised to the Birmingham pub in a tweet that has since been deleted. He explained that “[our] lawyers got a bit trigger happy. [We] are happy for the Lone Wolf Bar in Birmingham to keep using the name.”
The McFadyens were not entirely satisfied with the response, stating that it was a “shame we had to spend money rebranding because of ‘lawyers.’”
— The Wolf Birmingham (@TheWolfBham) March 27, 2017
After suggestions that Brewdog should reimburse the rebranding costs, James Watt tweeted that the brewery had contacted The Wolf pub to invite them “to make their own gin with us [Brewdog]” and that the company would cover all costs incurred. In another tweet, he defended the company’s attitude to their intellectual property, stating that “we’re not really that precious about” it as “we give away all [our] beer recipes for free.”
Earlier today we contacted Lone Wolf bar and said we would not only cover all costs, but invited them up to make their own gin with us.
— James Watt (@BrewDogJames) March 27, 2017