It must come from their youthful arrogance, or perhaps from the way BrewDog thinks outside the hexagon. Whatever it is, I feel anticipation at every corner, emblazoned by laughter as their brilliance unfolds. I can’t help wondering, “What’s next, you crazy dudes?”
In 2007, Martin Dickie and James Watt, both 24 at the time, launched BrewDog like a couple of mad-wizards in search of a new world order of beer. Bland English styles didn’t match their personalities, so, from the get-go, they aimed at the hard core side of the craft beer market.
They were an erupting volcano, trashing the market with their hot blend of craziness. After only a year in the business, they hit the UK market with its strongest beer at 18.2% ABV. But that was only a shadow of what was to come. By 2010, The End of History came in at 55% ABV, in bottles wearing fur coats. Such extreme alcohol levels were reached through the process of fractional freezing, a process which became increasingly more sophisticated after designing beers of higher and higher ABV’s, including Tactical Nuclear Penguin at 32% and Sink The Bismarck! at 41%.
Only 12 bottles of The End of History were produced in a limited-edition series, each one selling for £500-700, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. BrewDog enthusiasts in the USA, Canada, Italy, Denmark, Scotland, and England bought out the market in less than 24 hours.
With engines open with full steam, they have become the largest independent brewer in Scotland. In 2012, they were “the Fastest Growing Company in Scotland and were named in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 as the fastest growing food and drink company in the UK,” said their online blog.
They did insanely crazy stunts to attract attention. Who would ever think of projecting themselves, buck naked, upon the Houses of Parliament? How about smashing bottles of industrial beers with a golf club, modifying a train car so they could brew as it rolled along the tracks, or aging beer on a fishing trawler?
With BrewDogs, the bottom is always up-ended. They have leveraged the tipping point with a devil-may-care use of profanity, and along the way, won Gold medals at the World Beer Cup for Paradox Grain and Hardcore IPA. When James Watt was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by The Prince’s Youth Business International, he became the pride of Scotland as the youngest person to hold that distinction.
Watt and Dickie have driven a tank down the streets of London, brewed beer at the bottom of the ocean, and released a limited edition protest beer, Hello My Name is Vladimir, in time for the Sochi 2014 Olympics, condemning discriminatory laws implemented by the Russian government. They even created a booster beer for athletes, Never Mind the Anabolics, made with a bouquet of creatine, guarana, ginseng, gingo, maca powder, matcha tea and kola nut.
By 2013, they captivated the fleeting American attention span with BrewDogs, a craft-beer infused TV show on the Esquire channel, making green beer in Chicago, shaking beer up on a race track, and brewing beer using molecules encoded with the Declaration of Independence. Not just one molecule, but 320 million of them. Now they’re back for Season II.
You might think it’s all schtick and no substance, but numbers don’t lie. With 14,208 shareholders signed on by 2013, 224 employees, and 13 BrewDog bars both in the UK and abroad, BrewDog has come a long way in turning the heads of consumers who formerly only drank bland, industrial lagers.
Scotland’s BrewDog has now moved forward into the world of pastry. Working with Pieminister, they have developed beer-infused pies to be served at all UK BrewDog bars and Pieminister locations throughout the UK. Pieminister, now ten years old, is the only nationally distributed pie company to use free range meat and eggs in their products. Chick ‘n Hops pops out of the oven made with ham and chicken in BrewDog Punk IPA and a flaky, crumbly pie crust fit for a queen. (Yes, Pieminister even supplied the queen with pies for her Christmas party.) MooDog, named by a BrewDog shareholder, was created with British beef, smoked bacon, and 5am Saint, baked in that flaky, scrumptious pie crust. Now you can have your pie and drink it, too.