Wednesday, October 21, 2009
So BrewDog have decided to sell a 9% stake in the company to, hopefully, 10,000 lovers of the brand - describing it as the "single most exciting, influential and ground-breaking thing to happen in the British brewing industry for decades". I will say quite openly here and now, as I have on several people's blogs - were I still living in the European Union, I would no doubt be one of those 10,000 people. Would I be doing it because I think it would make me rich? Probably not. Would I be doing it because of the 20% lifetime discount on BrewDog beer? Again, probably not. I would be doing it because I genuinely and sincerely want BrewDog to succeed, grow and show that British brewers can be as iconoclastic as their American cousins. Basically anything that means I can walk to a beer store in Charlottesville and pick up bottles of Hardcore IPA, Paradox and Rip Tide is a good thing in my world.
As things stand, BrewDog appear to be in a very fortunate situation at the moment. Their edgy and aggressive marketing is backed up by seriously good beer. They have a groundswell of goodwill from many in the beer blogging world, and I would be surprised if many of the British bloggers I read don't go out and buy a share in the company, most likely for reasons very similar to why I would if I could. However, this rosy situation could so easily turn sour, and that is the tightrope that James, Martin and the BrewDog guys will now find themselves walking along - and to be honest it is one place I wouldn't want to be.
Having read on BrewDog's main site about their plans for the investment, I must admit that a somewhat parochial question went through my mind, why build the new carbon neutral brewery in Aberdeen? I am assuming here of course that the facilities in Fraserburgh will be closed down in the process. Would the jobs created by building and running the new brewery not be welcome in Fraserburgh? I am aware that the Broch's unemployment rate is below average in Scotland, but while having a nice shiny new brewery is a nice thing, why not keep the company's roots in Fraserburgh?
Another part of BrewDog's plan is to create a new range of beers under the brand name "Abstrakt", you can see the promotional picture here. Now, please, pardon my French and perhaps I am wrong but it seems entirely out of keeping with the concept of BrewDog as the brewing world's "punks" and more like yuppies in denial. Seriously, who wrote the bollocks on that picture? "directional boundary pushing beers"? "will release a small amount edition batches per year" - someone perhaps was in the Foundation class doing Standard grade English? As I have said elsewhere, I am not convinced that Abstrakt is really all that ground-breaking - Fuller's annual Vintage series springs immediately to mind.
As I said at the outset of this rambling, I wish BrewDog nothing but success at bringing excellent beer to the drinking public, and if in the process they make themselves wealthy men then well done to them. What they have done with their new plans is take a difficult path, and one where I am sure it won't be long before some people feel disenfranchised from the brand, and begin to label them as sell outs - much as embittered Pearl Jam fans did with Nirvana when they achieved commercial success. For me though, as long as the beer remains good then I am a happy BrewDog fan.