Having a national chain of 13 pubs with 3 others spread across three continents, launching 2 successful share issues whilst expanding from 2 employees to 224 employees in 7 years is an impressive feat in anyone’s books.  At the same time brewing 9,414,680 pints of beer last year, 50 times the amount brewed in the first year of business, building a state of the art production plant and becoming the most well know brand in your sector.  Not forgetting exporting to Sweden, Japan and America within two years of starting up. That is the story of Brewdog condensed into a paragraph.

Now you can add nearly doubling the number of branded bars in their portfolio in the next 6 months, and it is not just continuing their invasion of British cities and major towns.  New UK openings in Dundee,  Cardiff, Liverpool, Clapham are all planned for summer opening, whilst plans for the beer academy in East London are coming along well.  They also hope to have bars open in Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge and Norwich by the time September hits us.

Looking further afield they already have Japan,  Sweden and Brazil covered.  Add to this a second Swedish bar in Gothenburg joining the existing Stockholm outlet and major expansion into mainland Europe with openings planned in Berlin, Rome and Florence.  With future plans to open in Bologna, Helsinki, Paris, Barcelona and Norway, Brussels and New Delhi,  it is an impressive list of locations for such a young business.  The only surprise is that they haven’t moved into America, especially as they recently filmed a series about craft beer and brewing in that country.

Logic would dictate that you build up your UK presence first and then expand into one or two European markets in a more concentrated way, building up your presence slowly but surely.  But this is a market where you have to strike while the iron is hot and craft beer is very hot right now.  Brewdog is one of the most well known names in the market and the strategic scattergun approach in staking a claim across most of Europe’s key beer markets and other major beer drinking countries elsewhere makes perfect sense.

These international targets are modern cosmopolitan cities which will just lap the premium product that Brewdog offer.  The same approach was taken in the UK market, with Glasgow and Edinburgh coming first after their hometown Aberdeen.  Next came London (with multiple outlets) and the regions followed with Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham. One large centre of population, one pub.

This is the opposite of the regional mainstream brewers who own a larger number of pubs across a tight geographical area, eg : J W Lees, Holts and Robinson in the Manchester / Greater Manchester area, Ossett / Partners to a lesser degree in West Yorkshire.  This guarantees a steady source of beer sales in the region and attempts to breed customer loyalty to the brand as a whole.  I used to be such a drinker, being wedded to Boddingtons for most of the early 2000’s.  The idea is that these brewers via their pubs go to the people in their local area or town centre.  The Brewdog model is that you go to them to try their beer on tap, and the name, unconventional marketing, social media and brewing reputation means that people in droves do just that.

The fact that a bar in China felt there was a market to offer a counterfeit Brewdog outlet, complete with authentic looking exterior shows how far the name has spread.   They are the mainstream within a niche sector now, still able to misbehave, but with responsibilities to more than just their employees, answering to 14,208 shareholders.   Personally I think their are more exciting breweries out there for the beer itself now with the explosion in craft breweries over the last few years, however Brewdog still produce a very good range of craft beer I’d be happy to drink all day long.

Many such smaller craft brewers are located within 30 miles of my door just outside Halifax and wherever you live you’ve a good chance of finding a good small craft brewery in the same area now.  The craft beer scene will eventually be merged into the mainstream when it gets too big to be a niche market any more.  After that who knows what will come next.  Keg has been accepted back into the market after years of being derided, what next?