BrewDog has said it will donate the profits from beer shipped to Qatar to human rights charities – but refused to say if it will send further beer to the country.
Writing on social media on Thursday (10 November), CEO James Watt said “one shipment” of beer had gone to Qatar and added the brewery would donate profits from this shipment to charity.
“We do not sell direct [sic] to Qatar however one shipment went there sold via a third party. We are going to donate the profits from this shipment to human rights charities, too,” Watt wrote.
When asked if this meant no further beer would be shipped, and if beer presently on sale in the country would be withdrawn, BrewDog declined to comment.
On Monday (7 November), BrewDog announced an “anti-sponsorship” campaign for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Describing the awarding of the competition to the country as “bribery on an industrial scale”, the craft brewer said it would donate profits from the sale of its Lost Lager during the tournament to human rights charities.
It was revealed on Tuesday (8 November), however, that BrewDog beer was on sale in Qatar via a third-party distributor with links to the Qatari government.
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In a widely-shared image on social media, BrewDog beers were seen available in the Qatari riyal currency (QAR), accompanied by a poster bearing the logo of the Qatar Distribution Company (QDC). The company is the sole authority in the state of Qatar for importing, distributing and retail selling alcohol and is a subsidiary of the Qatari government.
Social media users accused the UK brewer of hypocrisy for criticising the Qatari regime while continuing to profit from the sale of its beers by a state-owned distributor.
“You sell beer via distro to the Qatari government,” wrote Craft Beer Channel founder Jonny Garrett. “You literally help fund the regime you are calling out. Stop sales to Qatar, then you can claim some moral high ground.”
Dan Barker tweeted: “BrewDog accused Qatar of various atrocities yesterday, using massively exaggerated numbers, in order to promote watching the Qatar World Cup in their own bars… It turns out they sell their drinks in Qatar anyway.”
In response, BrewDog sought to deflect the criticism onto other brands that are official partners of the FIFA World Cup.
“Apple sells iPhones in Qatar – that doesn’t mean it endorses human rights abuses. Neither do we,” it said. “We are doing our bit to raise awareness of these scandals and injustices and will keep doing so. If people want to attack brands, maybe they’d be better off turning their attention to the likes of adidas, Kia and Visa who are all official partners of FIFA.”
Also on Thursday, Watt announced all revenues from a run of “special World F*Cup cans” would also be donated to charity, on top of the profits from Lost Lager and the beer shipped to Qatar. The brewery is selling “World F*Cup” packs of both its Lost Lager and Hazy Jane beers from GBP12 (US$13.70) on its website.
On the subject of which charity the funds would be donated to, the brewery offered the following statement: “We are evaluating a number of charity partners. We will only donate to registered charities that demonstrably and directly help those who have been affected by human rights injustices and violations in Qatar. Net profits will be calculated at the end of December and all donations will be made in January 2023.”