BrewDog slams ‘jealous’ Diageo for trying to fix innkeeping awards

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Diageo

BrewDog slams ‘jealous’ Diageo for trying to fix innkeeping awards
Diageo has ‘apologised unreservedly’ after Scottish independent BrewDog accused it of ‘overbearing and blackmailing behaviour’ in leaning on a judging panel to prevent its smaller rival from winning an award.

Edgy Scottish brand BrewDog – which claims to produce craft ‘beers for punks’ – said in a strong blogpost that the latter had leaned on judges to ensure BrewDog didn’t win the ‘Bar Operator of the Year’ award at the British Institute of Innkeeping Scottish Awards in Glasgow on Sunday.

According to BrewDog co-founder James Watt (pictured): “One of the judges (seated at our table) told us in disbelief ‘this simply cannot be – the independent judging panel voted for BrewDog as clear winners of the award.”

The recipients of the award on the night refused to accept it since it had ‘BrewDog’ engraved on it, Watt said, as it emerged that Diageo had threatened the awards committee that it would cut all funding for future BII events if BrewDog won, while their representatives would not present awards on the night.

Ashamed and embarrassed

This Tuesday, BrewDog said, Kenny Mitchell, chairman of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) in Scotland and chair of the Awards Committee, phoned the company and said: “We are all ashamed and embarrassed about what happened. The awards have to be an independent process and BrewDog were the clear winner.”

He added: “We were as gobsmacked as you by Diageo’s behaviour. We made the wrong decision under extreme pressure. We should have stuck to our guns and given the award to BrewDog.”

A Diageo spokesperson said: “There was a serious misjudgement by Diageo staff at the awards dinner on Sunday evening in relation to the Bar Operator of the Year Award, which does not reflect in any way Diageo’s corporate values and behaviour.”

They added: “We would like to apologise unreservedly to BrewDog and to the British Institute of Innkeeping for this error of judgement and we will be contacting both organisations imminently to express our regret for this unfortunate incident.”

‘Pseudo corporate responsibility’

But BrewDog James slammed Diageo’s “pseudo corporate responsibility”​, and added: “Perhaps more tellingly it is an unwitting microcosm for just how the beer industry is changing and just how scared and jealous the gimp-like establishment are of craft beer revolutionaries.”

Diageo’s embarrassment is further compounded by the fact that its apology appears online alongside a link to a speech CEO Paul Walsh made on Tuesday to the ‘Responsible Business Summit’ in London.

He said: “Businesses are driven by the need to grow, to compete and build profits – only by doing so can we create shareholder value over the long term.

Walsh added: “The truly successful businesses of the next decade will be those that understand that they cannot do this without collaborating. The most successful businesses will be collaborative in outlook and recognise the advantages.”

Neither the BII nor Diageo were available for comment as we went to press.

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1 comment

Spinning This Story

Posted by Jay Brooks,

I don't understand the tone of your article. This actually happened. Diageo admitted it happened. The BII admitted it happened, yet your headline and the first few sentences use words like "accused" and "BrewDog said" as if there were some doubt and this was just BrewDog's side of the story and it might all be in their head. If you read just the first two or three paragraphs (as many readers will) you could come away thinking that Diageo did nothing wrong and BrewDog is just "accusing" them of something. Why would you spin this so that it doesn't make Diageo out to be the guilt party, which they clearly are, from the start?

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