Man sues BrewDog for sexual discrimination after being 'forced' to identify as a woman to get a cheaper drink

A man has successfully sued brewing giant BrewDog after stating that he was forced to "identify as a woman" to get a cheaper drink in one of the brand's bars. 

Published 18th Jun 2019
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

In March last year, Dr Thomas Bower stated that he tried to buy the beer company’s Pink IPA at a Cardiff bar after spotting it was £1 cheaper than other drinks.

The beer, which was part of a promotion to raise awareness about the gender pay gap, was only on offer at that price for those who "identified as a woman".

The national campaign saw those who identify as women able to enjoy beer 20 per cent cheaper in BrewDog bars across the globe – with the discount equivalent to the gender pay gap in the UK.

As part of the four week campaign BrewDog stated that it was donating 20 per cent of its proceeds from bottled Pink IPA and Punk IPA to causes that fight against gender inequality, The Women’s Engineering Society (WES), a charity and a professional network of women engineers, scientists and technologists that inspire and support girls and women to achieve their potential as engineers, applied scientists and technical leaders.

Dr Bower stated that he was instead offered Punk IPA, which was being sold for £5, by the bar tender, however the software engineer decided to argue his case and in an interview with Wales Online stated that after a "bit of a back and forth" he opted to agree to identify as a woman instead of paying the extra pound for a beer.

Dr Bower then added that he complained to BrewDog stating that he was intending to take them to court for sexual discrimination, however the brewing company "ignored" him.

He claimed for damages and an apology for "direct discrimination and breach of the Equality Act 2010", according to court documents dated May 23 2019.

The report by Wales Online stated that the Judge then ruled in the claimant's favour stating that the incident, which saw Dr Bower have to identify as a woman to get a cheaper drink, would have "humiliated" him.

Dr Bower was then awarded damages of £1,000, and according to Wales Online stated that after taking into account his costs, donated equal amounts to two charities: the Young Women's Trust, which aims to help women negotiate for better pay, and the Campaign Against Living Miserably, which runs a male suicide prevention line.

Pink IPA, a repackaged version of BrewDog's Punk IPA, prompted a number of negative responses on Twitter at the time of the campaign.

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One woman wrote: “This has the right motivations but the wrong execution. You have lots of supportive shareholders who are female scientists & engineers. They could have been involved, collaborated and a simple engagement with those supporters could have given you a much stronger campaign.”

Responding to the criticism, Sarah Warman, BrewDog’s global head of marketing, said: “We always anticipated that some people might not immediately appreciate the irony of Pink IPA but that did not deter us in our mission to spark a conversation about the gender pay gap.

“Pink IPA is clearly an over-the-top ridiculing of the types of sexist marketing we often see from brands trying to engage a female audience.

“This beer is part of a bigger campaign that raises awareness of the scourge of the gender pay gap and sexism; two issues we think we should be doing a lot more to solve as a society.”

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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