Whether they are brewing beers at the bottom of the ocean, or bottling them in taxidermy squirrels, BrewDog has started a craft beer revolution.
Gone are the days of bland yellow lagers, poured from uninspired glass bottles. Looking around the latest pubs that have appeared on our streets in the last decade, it takes no expert to see that Scotland’s beer industry has transformed – colourful brands boasting an eclectic range of brews seem to have taken over, dominating the shelves left, right and centre.
Arguably leading the way in the craft beer revolution is Fraserburgh-based brewer, BrewDog, the brainchild of co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie. Born out of frustration at the state of beer in the UK, they decided to take brewing matters into their own hands.
They have since taken the drinks industry by storm.
When they were just 24 years old, the two Aberdeenshire entrepreneurs leased a building in Fraserburgh, putting all of their money and faith into a business that defies convention.
Nearly 12 years later, they have created innovative brews with a maverick brand, and export to over 60 countries around the world. Largely made possible by crowd-funding, the BrewDog duo offered people the chance to buy shares in their company in 2009.
These shareholders, better known as ‘Equity Punks’, are now part of an extensive community of around 90,000 advocates.
‘Our Equity Punks are the best brand ambassadors as well as the harshest critics we could ask for. We just closed the world’s most successful equity crowd-funding raise, securing £26.2m from over 50,000 new investors’, explained James.
Recently announcing ambitious plans called ‘The BrewDog Blueprint’, they hope to release new beers, open new bars, and create new ways of doing business in the next year.
Talking of their rapid rise to fame in the drinks industry, James said that ‘some people thought the craft beer revolution was a fad, others thought demand would eventually wane, and many believed we’d be eaten up by “big beer”. I think more people are beginning to understand that this is a revolution generated by people tired of the status quo.’
Despite their runaway success in far flung countries, he maintains that their north east roots are what have stood them in good stead: ‘The water in the north east is great for brewing, and the people of our homeland in Aberdeenshire make up the fabric of our business. Without them, we’d never be where we are today.’
Far from adhering to the norm, Martin and James have released some alternative beers – they even brewed ‘Sunk Punk’ at the bottom of the North Sea to break an age-old curse on Scotland’s shoreline. It is the first to be brewed underwater and contains ‘maritime-themed ingredients such as buckweed, rum and mermaids.’
Another – the strongest, most expensive beer in the world, The End of History – was created in 2010. At £500 a pop, the blond Belgian ale is possibly their most eccentric.
The bottles – ‘at once beautiful and disturbing’, according to their website – are put inside taxidermy that are dressed in quirky outfits.
‘I love the fact that one day I can be tasting a new spontaneously fermented sour beer and the next I’m in a helicopter parachuting taxidermy cats over Manhattan!’
With the opening of a new refrigerated beer warehouse near Glasgow, plans to break into Australia with their first brewery down under, and opportunities opening up in Asia, there is never a dull moment on Planet BrewDog.