Beer by eagle: Phillips contest ruffles feathers of B.C. government
A high-flying promotional stunt for a Vancouver Island-based brewing company is ruffling some feathers at the B.C. Legislature.
Phillips Brewery recently launched a one-time contest called “Beer From a Bird” to coincide with the launch of its new Pilsner.
The lucky winner will receive “something that’s never been done before,” according to founding brewer Matt Phillips – a can of the new brew delivered by bald eagle.
“It’s kind of a response to Amazon coming up with their drone delivery. When we were coming up with this new beer and it was kind of a throwback, a traditionally really well-aged beer, we thought what better than going to an analog method,” Phillips said. “We couldn’t think of anything more screwed-up than doing an eagle drop.”
The brewery has partnered with Duncan-based Pacific Northwest Raptors for the contest.
The organization, which aims to raise awareness and promote conservation for birds of prey, is supplying a four-year-old bald eagle named Hercules to deliver a single can of Pilsner to the winner.
“We wanted to be involved because our goal is to get people closer to these incredible birds,” said operations manager Robyn Radcliffe. “So they’ll hopefully feel more inspired to protect them in their natural habitats, to learn more about ways that they can do that and to get more involved in conservation.”
Whether or not the stunt will be a success remains to be seen, and the organization isn’t making any promises up front.
“He won’t be flying that far. Half a kilometre, probably. It’s sort of up to him,” Radcliffe said. “Our birds moods govern our interactions with them. We’re not going to ask them anything they’re not confident and comfortable doing. That’s very, very important to us.”
But even if the bird is on board, the provincial government might not be.
PNR’s permit states that eagles can only be free-flown for bird abatement or educational flight demonstration at the Duncan facility, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The ministry told CTV News in a statement it has contacted PNR to inform them the contest isn’t allowed.
“If the promotional activity does occur as currently planned, it will be in violation of the permit and the Ministry of Environment’s Conservation Officer Service will be asked to investigate the incident,” it said in a statement.
The ministry said it would also issue a written warning for Phillips’ online promotional video, which violated PNR’s permit.
Radcliffe said there’s no bad blood between her organization and the government, and that all the parties involved need to sit down together to work it out.
“They’re doing due diligence, ensuring that we’re adhering to our permit conditions which is what they’re meant to do,” she said. “So I’m not frustrated, I think it’s just a very reasonable response to something that we haven’t had the opportunity to talk more about.”
Phillips said his company hasn’t spoken with the ministry yet either, but he maintains the campaign also serves a purpose other than to sell beer.
“We definitely have a pretty serious educational component along with this campaign,” he said. “We can’t think of a better way to demonstrate the intelligence, the strength and the agility of these birds than to see them doing something people can connect with.”
The beer flight is scheduled for next month, and where Hercules makes the drop depends on where the winner lives.