Brewdog are the apparent “enfant terrible” of the craft beer world.   There may be breweries making better beer now in my opinion, but they still make really good interesting beers.  However for leveraging every last ounce of publicity they can out of any situation they can’t be beaten by many companies in any sector of business.    They are now on their third Equity for Punks share release and are currently well on their way to a target of £4 million in order expand their brewing operations and increase the number of bars in their empire.

This time they have upset the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) by using the term “post apocalyptic motherfu*ker of a craft brewery” on their website.  One person complained about the asterisked out word and the ASA upheld the complaint that the language was likely to cause serious offence, despite the masked letter.  They also commented that the terms “corporate beer w****rs” and “save up for a luger (one of their beers) and drill the b*****ds” could also cause offence.

I like how they court publicity and the success of this has shown, as in 6 years of existence they have become a multinational exporter of beer and their profile is raised to a degree that James Watt, one of the owners has hosted TV programmes on both sides of the Atlantic off the back of it, the US one also utilising co-owner Martin Dickie.  They have held 3 share issues, 1 of which reached its target in short time and another looking to be heading that direction.

They have also just moved to a major custom built £7 million production plant just outside of Aberdeen which can produce over 120,000 bottles a week and now employs 135+ employees up from the initial pairing of James and Martin 6 years ago.  Their bar empire now numbers 10 and has a presence across the UK with most of the major cities having at least one Brewdog Bar, and Europe isn’t safe with Stockholm, Sweden being invaded recently with more foreign opening planned off the back of the current share issue.

However despite all this deserved business success, the need for swearing does show that they still want to be seen as the bad boys of the brewing world, and to reinforce this they have stated that they will ignore the findings of the ASA and retain the offensive terms on their website.  This has of course caused a flurry of articles in the specialist, marketing and general mainstream media giving the company exactly what they want, inches of column space for a zero advertising budget.  One thing you can say is that they keep you interested, unlike the current lacklustre campaign for “Let there be beer” which had all the originality of a photocopier.

They got the same free advertising when it came out Guinness owners Diageo tried to block them winning an award at one of the trade bodies annual prize giving event.  I can see why some might think this arrogant, but there is some genuine jealousy with the big companies that these young upstarts can get tens of thousands of pounds of publicity when they have to pay for it through advertising or sponsorship.    Here is the crux of the their dilemma though, with them being the “poster boys” of craft beer in the view of the non craft beer scene, they are the establishment within their sector, a dichotomy with the desired bad boy image.

They are almost a victim of their own success.  You can get their beer in most supermarkets, in a good number of bars and online, you don’t have to hunt them out, something which is half the fun of being a craft beer fan.   You don’t get the delight when you find that bottle of “Magic Rock 8 Ball” or “Durham Brewery Temptation” on your travels.  To non craft beer fans, the analogy is finding that record you have been after for ages in the second hand music shop or finding that volume in a little family owned book shop to complete a series.  The collection is half the pleasure, even if they item purchased typically does not last long in this case.


  1. Jolly Jock says:

    Good piece – I was prompted to check the dates you quoted as it feels like Brewdog have been around for ages and not just 6 years. I’m not sold on the idea that the higher the ABV the better (I tend to have a thirst on me rather than a desire to fall over), so I’m not a regular drinker of their wares – but seeing Dead Pony Club is only 3.8% I really should seek that out.

    Like most other craft breweries, they turn out some good beers. What they do differently is achieving the tricky balance of managing to be extreme enough to be news-worthy yet popular enough for the supermarkets not to shun them for the controversies – and as a result, they’re doing quite nicely.

    There’s a reason why the big companies have to spend to promote their goods, and it’s not because people haven’t heard of their brand. Even the UK best selling lager is described on its website only as “Refreshing” and “Thirst-quenching” (not unlike a pint of chilled water?).