News & Opinion | June 21, 2019 2:32 pm

Man Sues Brewery Over “International Women’s Day” Beer — and Wins

He “felt forced to identify as female” to get an IPA for £1 less

Man Sues BrewDog Over Pink IPA Beer Discount
BrewDog's Pink IPA launched on International Women's Day in 2018. This week, a man won a discrimination suit over it.

Despite the laws we have in place to battle discrimination, we have a long way to go as a country, and a world, to end racism, sexism and other prejudice. However, there is at least one demographic where the law is cracking down: Men who can’t get a dollar off beer.

This week, Thomas Bower, a 27-year-old software engineer, won a discrimination case against BrewDog after the Scottish brewery released a beer called Pink IPA that was sold to women for one-fifth less than their flagship Punk IPA. Bower writes that he “felt forced to identify as female” to get the pink-branded beer for £4 instead of the blue-branded beer for £5, so he sued. A judge awarded him £1,000.

BrewDog’s release of the Pink IPA, on International Women’s Day in 2018, was “meant to highlight the 18.1 percent average gender pay gap between men and women in the UK,” writes October. It was obviously satirical, a marketing ploy with a mission (a percentage of proceeds from both beers was donated to “charities that fight inequality and support women” in both the U.K. and the U.S.), but you had to identify as female to buy the beer. Bower saw that as discrimination worthy of taking to court.

Bower’s story goes like this: He visited BrewDog’s location in Cardiff, Wales, was denied the Pink IPA because he identified as male, was told about the campaign and offered the Punk IPA for £1 more, then identified as female to get the discount.

“Not satisfied, he gave BrewDog the chance to settle the matter privately or go to court,” writes October. In small claims court, District Judge Phillips sided with Bower, saying in a transcript cited on Wales Online that it was “not a pleasant experience for [Bower].”

October points out the obvious, that Bower was acting in bad faith. Yes, he was technically discriminated against under the law, as the judge made clear, but that was the point of the campaign — to show in concrete terms the current discrimination against women. The publication also points out the less obvious, that “in lying about his gender in order to get a slight discount on a beer, Bower trivialized trans and nonbinary people, many of whom have to defend their gender identity on a daily basis.”

In an article published in Wales Online, Bower says he donated the damages minus his court costs to the charities Young Women’s Trust and Campaign Against Living Miserably. It’s not clear how much was left after the costs.

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