Scottish brewery BrewDog launched its newest, most “revolutionary” beer yet on Wednesday: the “No Label” beer. Made using hops that change sex before they are harvested, this no-label beer absolutely refuses to conform to the gender binary and all the other forms of rigid categorization present in the distilled beverage community — which is apparently a thing that exists.
But this new “transgender” beer is not just trying to make waves in the distilled beverage community. It is also trying to champion inclusivity in the real world, as well. James Watt, the founder and CEO of BrewDog, has said the beer is a genuine effort to help the non-binary and LGBT communities.
“We’ve worked with the charity Queerest of the Queer to put this together. They co-designed the packaging, they worked with us on the project, we’re donating all the proceeds of sales of this beer to charity,” Watt explained to Business Insider.
However well intentioned the beer may present itself to be, many in the LGBT community have responded rather negatively to BrewDog’s latest product. In a statement to the Independent, the LGBT rights charity Stonewall expressed that they were particularly concerned about the company’s language and its portrayal of identity.
“The trans community is diverse — many trans people do not transition, or identify with binary genders, and BrewDog’s language undermines that,” they said.
Apart from undermining trans identity through its questionable use of language, many people, especially on social media, have also criticized the brewery’s no-label beer for coming off as merely a marketing ploy. Considering the amount of backlash and general amount of attention surrounding the launch of the new beer, such criticism makes sense.
Donations to LGBT charities aside, BrewDog still seems to have essentially capitalized on trans identity in order to appear more “in” and popular as both transgender and non-binary visibility increases in our current society. So although the proceeds may benefit a just and necessary cause, the fact that the brewery is calling their new beer “transgender” ultimately sends the message that people who truly identify as such are commodifiable.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that BrewDog has run into trouble over its marketing strategies. The company has a well-known history of using high-profile PR stunts to boost sales — one recent promotional video of theirs was accused of mocking homeless populations and, unsurprisingly, transgender people.
Simply by selling the beer as a product, the company ultimately oversimplifies and trivializes the trans experience — an experience that includes very serious and unacceptable prejudice, discrimination and violence on a day-to-day basis. In the end, BrewDog fails to realize that their new beer is literally just beer, and their marketing ploy is just that, a ploy.