Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Swimming in the Rip Tide?

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.


  1. People who label a business, any business, as "sell-outs" are idiots and deserve not to be listened to. All commercial operations exist to make money for the people who run them. The bit where it looks like they're actually an art project or socio-political campaign is called "marketing", and grown-ups are supposed to have the critical faculties to be able to assess the motives behind such pronouncements.

    Not that I doubt BrewDog's integrity for a second, but ultimately they're a business and it's wrong to expect them to do anything which doesn't lead to more profits.

    No profits would mean no Paradox for anyone. And that wouldn't be good at all at all.

    Sorry for the rant, but the whole "this company is only out to make money", whether directed at Heineken or Hopback, really irks me.

    I suspect the reason for moving closer to Aberdeen is that that particular field was the one that was for sale. And they reckon they'll make more money by having the brewery there ;)

  2. TBN,

    I agree completely about people who call successful businesses "sell outs" - pure jealousy is usually the reason for such lunacy. I have said many a time on other blogs that for a brewery to not have a healthy interest in making money is lunacy - unless of of course they are Trappist monks.

    Oh and don't worry about ranting, I am one person who won't be crying sell-out any time soon.

    As I said a couple of times in the post, good luck to the lads and I really would love to see them grow and succeed.

  3. I don't even think it is jealousy. It seems to be a howl of outrage when the edifice of non-commercial interest suddenly crumbles, and they're pissed off by having not noticed how thin it was all along.

    Cognitive dissonance is a bitch.

  4. Of course, if they do offer the shares in the US, then I will be right there with the check book wanting at least one.

  5. I enjoyed the post until you brought Pearl Jam vs Nirvana into it...brought back memories of 6th form arguments (I'm a die-hard PJ acolyte)...!!


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