Featured image for BrewDog CEO Promises Vodka Made From Bad Beer In A Paper Bottle

BrewDog CEO Promises Vodka Made From Bad Beer In A Paper Bottle

by Rudy Sanchez on 02/11/2022 | 3 Minute Read

Scotland-based BrewDog, a B-Corp multinational brewer and pub operator, continues to seek ways to make its beer more sustainably. Following on the heels of such initiatives as constructing an anaerobic digestion plant that turns beer waste into fuels such as biomethane and clean water, Brewdog has also purchased over 9,300 acres of land to reforest it. 

On top of that, James Watt, CEO, and co-founder of BrewDog, recently announced an upcoming vodka made from unsellable beer that comes packaged in a paper bottle called Bad Beer Vodka. According to Watt, Brewdog will take out-of-spec or expired beer and run it through its distillery’s 20-meter high rectification column, turning funky brews into pristine vodka. Additionally, Bad Beer Vodka will get packaged in a paper bottle.

The bottle appears to have a textured finish and metal neck and cap. The label on the front is dominated by the words Bad, Beer, and Vodka, with the former two crossed out. Along the edge of the label, you'll find “DISTILLED WITH THE SPIRIT OF BEER FIERCELY DEFIANT AND INDEPENDENT” in raised letters.

Editorial photograph

Of course, BrewDog isn’t the first brand to announce a paper bottle. Some paper bottles, such as those from Pabaco and Pulpex, still contain plastic liners that serve as a moisture barrier and are only recyclable in facilities capable of separating the materials. And that's not to mention that these bottles also have plastic or an aluminum cap, making it mixed-material hell for a recycler. In the announcement, BrewDog does write that the lining inside the bottle is “natural” and “biodegradable.” That’s in addition to being “plant-based,” as Watt claims in the LinkedIn comments (all of which likely spells bio-plastics). James Watt did not offer specifics on the paper bottle material, the recyclability, or the manufacturer, nor did BrewDog respond to inquiries from Dieline about the sustainability of the announced paper bottle. 

While it is admirable that BrewDog continues to innovate on sustainability, it would be nice if the brewer also cleaned up its act while making tasty adult beverages.

Marketing stunts in the past have landed the “punk” brand in controversy, including a “Pink IPA,” a satirical take on pinkwashing that didn't land with consumers, and a Wonka-style golden can promotion that went wrong after the prize cans turned out not to be made of solid gold. Beyond marketing stunts, accusations that founders Watt and Martin Dickie maintained a culture of fear—and that Watt acted inappropriately towards female staff—continue to dog the brand. Additionally, a BBC investigation found the brewer falsified documents to export beer into the US, with at least one employee admitting they felt they would get terminated if the beer didn’t make it across the pond.

Who knows? Maybe BrewDog will surprise us, and Bad Beer Vodka will live up to its marketing hype. But we’ve already seen these mostly conceptual paper bottles with plastic linings—what about a 100% plastic-free bottle? For a brand that prides itself on its punk ethos, it feels an awful lot as if they're jumping on the bandwagon solely for the sake of the announcement.