Controversial craft beer brand BrewDog is protesting Russia's anti-gay laws with a new product, called "Hello, My Name is Vladimir," promoted with the hashtag #NotForGays.
Just days ahead of the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics, the new beer has gone on sale in bars as well as online. BrewDog, based in Scotland, delivers globally and will donate 50% of profits to support charitable organizations that, it says, "support like-minded individuals wishing to express themselves freely without prejudice."
BrewDog claims it has sent a crate of the beer to the Kremlin, and explained in a blog, "This beer is… brewed with Limonnik berries. We heard they're great for improving sexual performance, so we've sent a case to the Kremlin as we suspect there is someone there who would appreciate a little helping hand."
The company warned its Twitter followers, "If you wanna try Hello My Name is Vladimir before the KGB catches up with us, hit up a BrewDog bar to try it on tap from today." One of the publicity shots for Hello, My Name is Vladimir re-creates the infamous photograph of Russian president Vladimir Putin riding a horse, shirtless, on a 2009 vacation in Siberia.
The bottles of Hello My Name is Vladimir feature Warhol-esque pictures of Mr. Putin's face, set against multi-colored backgrounds. In its blog, BrewDog describes the beer as "for uber hetero men who ride horses while topless and carrying knives. I am a beer to mark the 2014 Winter Olympics. But I am not for gays. Love wrestling burly men on the Judo mat or fishing in your Speedos? Then this is the beer for you!"
On a more serious note, BrewDog also said in a statement, "The sick, twisted legislation brought about in Russia that prevents people from living their true lives is something we didn't want to just sit back and not have an opinion on. Our core beliefs are freedom of expression, freedom of speech and a passion for doing what we love."
BrewDog has created a series of "Hello, My Name is…" beers, starting with Ingrid, but this is the first that has been used as a protest pint. The brewer likes to stir up controversy, though. For the London 2012 Olympics, BrewDog produced a beer called, "Never Mind the Anabolics," which the brewer claimed contained performance enhancing substances that are banned for professional athletes.