Just one day before the controversial beer brand Brewdog opens its first Las Vegas location on a rooftop on the Strip, the Guardian reports that it has lost its status as a B Corp. The Scottish brewery earned the certification — which designates that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency — just last February. BrewDog issued a statement disputing the claim and saying that the company decided to step aside from its B Corp certification.
News of Brewdog’s loss in status comes on the eve of the debut of its 30,000-square-foot bar above the Showcase Mall on Friday, December 2, and follows on the heels of other recent controversies. In November, the self-described “craft” and “punk” beermaker came under fire for launching an advertising campaign billed as an “anti-sponsorship” of the World Cup in Qatar, in which it highlighted Qatar’s poor human rights record. The campaign incurred allegations of hypocrisy, given that the brewery’s working conditions and approach to employment complaints had garnered sharp criticism in the wake of the release of BBC documentary, Disclosure: The Truth About Brewdog.
In June of 2021, hundreds of former Brewdog employees accused the beer company and founders of fostering what they called a “culture of fear.” An open letter from former staff members claimed that the company’s toxic work environment caused “a significant number of people” to suffer from mental illness as a result. Co-founder James Watt later apologized on behalf of the company on Twitter, saying that the brewery was focused “not on contradicting or contesting the details of [the] letter, but to listen, learn, and act.”
The Guardian reports that B Lab investigated Brewdog following the airing of the Disclosure documentary earlier this year. Brewdog scored 81.8 out of a potential 200 when assessed. B Corp’s scoring system allows a company to achieve certification if it scores at least 80 and consents to information about its performance measured against B Lab’s standards to be publicly available on its website, among other measures.
A representative from Brewdog issued a statement saying that Brewdog chose to walk away from the B Corp certification. “With our focus on delivering on the objectives contained in the BrewDog Blueprint, which is unique to us and built hand in hand with our team, we have decided to step aside from our B Corp certification for the time being,” says the statement, referencing the Brewdog Blueprint guide to the business’s future.
The statement continues: “B Lab had requested additional measures from BrewDog and the BrewDog board decided that these were not something we could do at this time. Though we remain committed to the values upheld by B-Lab, we believe our business is currently best served by focusing on the Blueprint, as well as very specific sustainability targets related to our Lost Forest project and the continued ramp-up of our AD facility. To that end, we were delighted last month, to have been awarded certification as a Carbon Negative Company by Positive Planet, highlighting the huge work we are doing in this area, and which is central to our ethos as a business. The current crisis has taught us that we need to be laser-focused on those areas of our business that deliver the most real terms value – that means the Blueprint and all that entails, in particular our commitment to our three core pillars of people, beer, planet, but also on making the operational changes that will enable us to get through the current financial crisis, while maintaining our commitment to demonstrable sustainability initiatives.”
B Lab issued a statement on Friday, December 2, to Eater explaining that Brewdog elected to step away from B Corp, following a suspension and request to follow B Lab’s remediation plan. A secondary representative from B Lab later provided a comment to Eater, writing in an email that the previous statement was false, and provided a new statement: “Brewdog is no longer a Certified B Corp, and B Lab does not comment on companies that are no longer in the B Corp community.”
On December 2, Punks With Purpose, the group that describes themselves as former Brewdog employees who are turning their “first-hand experience of toxic workplaces into constructive change,” issued a statement on Twitter, in which they encourage Brewdog to align with B Corp standards.
Tomorrow, Brewdog will open the massive multi-level 30,000-square-foot bar with a 4,000-square-foot LED cube and a 30-foot illuminated sign set atop the fourth-floor rooftop. The bar will offer 96 pours on tap, with beers like Elvis Juice and Punk IPA, and guest taps from Las Vegas breweries, as well as a food menu of pizza, tacos, lobster, and Wagyu beef burgers. The expansive bar will also offer full-size shuffleboard tables, retro gaming, and lots of TVs.
Update: December 1, 2022, 6:11 p.m.: This post has been updated to include a statement from Brewdog disputing the claim that it lost its certification.
Update: December 2, 2022, 1:59 p.m.: This post has been updated to include a statement from B Lab.
Update: December 2, 2022, 3:58 p.m.: This post has been updated to include a statement from Punks With Purpose.
Update: December 2, 2022, 4:29 p.m.: This post has been updated to include a secondary statement from B Lab.