Welcome to the Vaccine Canteen: Brewing company tempts hipsters in for vaccinations with free beer

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Pubs across the UK may be shuttered, but one brewer wants to convert its bars into vaccination centers, rewarding customers with a free beer for taking the jab.

Scottish beer manufacturer BrewDog is no stranger to taking up fashionable causes. In 2015 it released“the world’s first ‘non-binary, transgender beer’” to fundraise for a trans charity. When President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, it released a ‘Make Earth Great Again’ protest beer. Last year, it proudly declared it had gone carbon negative and released a plan to fight climate change.

Now, with most of its 52 bars shut by coronavirus restrictions, BrewDog is apparently in talks with the British government about using these pubs as vaccination centers. Announcing the talks on Friday, Company CEO James Watt said that anyone taking the jab at a BrewDog location would get a “special commemorative beer.”

We are in talks with the Government about using our closed @BrewDog bars as vaccination centres.We are also going to give everyone who gets vaccinated at a BrewDog bar a special commemorative beer.But what should we call it? pic.twitter.com/ahuFolnxQ7

— James Watt (@BrewDogJames) January 1, 2021

Watt then asked for input naming the beer, with names like “Vaccine Canteen” and “Little Prick” in the running.

To the Reddit-surfing, craft beer-drinking hipsters who make up BrewDog’s customer base, a free vaccine and a free beer might sound like an impossible deal to refuse. However, some commenters were less than impressed. “Give them a free beer with a funny name and the words ‘Fiercely defiant and independent’ printed on it and they’ll pretty much do anything you want,” one wrote.

I've seen a few companies in my time who've come across as desperate for some free advertising but this has to be number 1. Imagine cashing in on a rushed through vaccine. https://t.co/av1CLcfHt0

— Martin (@martin000023) January 1, 2021

LESSON: How To Control The Masses…Send them down the pub and give them a free beer with a funny name and the words "Fiercely defiant and independent" printed on it and they'll pretty much do anything you want 🤣 https://t.co/CUyGnZaqwZ

— Pathless Pilgrim Ⓥ (@PathlessPilgrim) January 1, 2021

How about Clever Publicity Stunt? https://t.co/yLho9XYnjh

— Will Guyatt (@willguyatt) January 1, 2021

https://t.co/Mxgwq0iZY6pic.twitter.com/LelHowtBKr

— RAW EGG NATIONALIST (@Babygravy9) January 1, 2021

A significant number of Britons say they’re unlikely to take a Covid-19 vaccine. Thirty-five percent of respondents told an Observer poll last month that they are unlikely to take the shot, with almost half of all respondents expressing fear that the vaccine will be unsafe, and 55 percent worrying about side effects. 

The two shots approved in the UK are manufactured by US drug firm Pfizer together with German’s BioNTech and British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca. Both use mRNA technology, which has never been deployed in a vaccine before. Clinical trials found both vaccines safe, though multiple cases of allergic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine have been reported, while AstraZeneca’s trials were put on hold several times due to adverse effects on participants.

Whether a free beer will sway anybody on the fence is doubtful, but Watt’s offer has already swayed Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who responded to the beer boss on Thursday night saying she’d pass the message on to her government’s vaccination team.

Thank you. I’ll pass this on to our vaccination team.

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 31, 2020

Regardless of how the talks go, BrewDog is unlikely to be pouring pints in its closed UK bars any time soon. Tier 4 restrictions – the most stringent put in to date – will apply in the UK for at least two weeks, after which the government will decide whether to extend the lockdown. Pubs serving food may open in parts of the country under Tier 2 restrictions, albeit with shortened hours and time limits on visits.

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