BrewDog is fast becoming a global household name. Your own parents have likely swapped out the Stella Artois and a crisp Chardonnay for slamming high percent punk tinnies. The ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ sticker that had become a daily mantra of the household has now been replaced by a designer chic anarchist A.
by Michael Rowlands
Looking into the history of BrewDog has been a fucking mess at best, and at worst it has made me realise that I am most likely writing an article that has been written by many others and that originality in the 21st century is as false as their Punk label. But after reading so much about BrewDog, the only use for this information is to either drunkenly hiccup the hypocrisy of my hatred for these heathens while their beer is gripped tightly in my hand to unsuspecting BrewDog fans in bars, or spew it all out in an article to be lost in the mass of other on the internet.
So, BrewDog, what are the issues and where to start?
It’s not just the beer labels and company manifesto that have vague, meaningless titles and phrases but the owners have embodied these too. James Watt, co-owner of BrewDog (though the company has been sliced up and sold off at market now), titled himself as the Captain of BrewDog and a Dystopian Puppet (wealthy hipsters loving giving themself ridiculous names, similar to the Supertramp from a previous article). Not really sure what a dystopian puppet is, but the ‘Captain’ of a global company is more likely to be the puppeteer, with his boat full of workers.
The creators of BrewDog said they wanted their customers to ‘ride towards anarchy’. Let’s see what they left on their road to anarchy, captaining a corporate punk boat for us to swim on after.
The signs of BrewDog just using punk as a marketing tool came simply & quickly. They changed the label on a beer I loved. I know, how fucking dare they? (As it must be noted that I loved, and still do, through gritted teeth, both figuratively and literally, drinking their toxic beverages, again both literally and figuratively). Their transparent Punk Dog mask had fooled me, but, just as the Scooby Doo gang finds the creepy fairground pedo hiding behind the mask of an obvious suspect, with a little investigating, the BrewDog character was unmasked to find yet another greedy pig looking for the golden troff.
The Original Punk IPA had a small manifesto on the label, full of soundbites you’d expect from a beer claiming to be punk. ‘This is an assertive beer’ – This beer will break into the cave that you’re living in and kick the remains of rotting relatives while the radiation poison leaves you comatosed, only able to watch as this beer and its ‘go get it’ attitude crushes your skull (the apocalypse won’t be the as fun as we all like to think). ‘We don’t care if you like it’ – How Punk! – Though the marketing schemes they start pulling definitely scream ‘daddy please love me’.
The label then starts negging you, criticising your taste, the bottle is ‘doubtful that you have the sophistication to appreciate the depth, character and quality’ of the beer. You’ve now suddenly entered a toxic relationship with a beer, that mocks you for not understanding it but asserts itself on you. This beer is an abusive 21st century boyfriend that will beat you for not ‘getting’ its poem about smoking cigarettes and drinking black coffee while listening to [insert whatever bands these hipsters listen to, but only their early stuff before they sold out e.g. Arctic MacDeMonkeys].
If you can’t handle all this beer, then ‘just go back to drinking your mass marketed, bland, cheaply made watered down lager, and close the door behind you’. Go back to that cheap-ass hoe of an ex you call a drink, bitch. You then just drink and weep, trying to prove that you’re manly enough for this drink, for the approval of a beer label and the two hipsters making it.
This label was then abandoned and binned, alongside any meaning it may have originally held, and the integrity of its creators. The Captain has abandoned the ship, please hold tight. They couldn’t preach against the evils of mass marketed beer, while that beer sits on a BrewDog branded beer mat glued to a Wetherspoons table with some Brexit fishing propaganda on the side. Or you can even grab a BrewDog, the drink that previously demonised mass marketed beers, in one of their 78 bars found globally. Available in your nearest McBrewDog.
They went from belittling mass marketed beers, to literally driving a tank through Camden in North London as a publicity stunt ‘to raise funds for the brewery’, crushing their old beliefs under the destructive tank of capitalism. A Mass Marketing Coup. The Captain then took to the skies, manning the BrewDog branded helicopter, on a mission to flood the streets with their hatred of ‘fats cats’ by raining down toy cats onto London commuters. This altruistic stunt against the capitalist cats happened to have the side mission of seeking funds for their next project. Probably another student seeking funds for a stunt. Perpetual promotion machine. The poetic irony of criticizing the bourgeoisie from these luxury war vehicles, whilst shaking the empty beer can for loose change.
At BrewDog we reject the status quo, we are passionate, we don’t give a damn and we always do something which is true to ourselves. Our approach has been anti-authoritarian and non-conformist from the word go.– James Watt, BrewDog Co-Founder. Excerpt from his book Business for Punks.
You may be familiar with Dominic Cummings’ little venture during lockdown. BrewDog monopolised on the politics with the Barnard Castle Eye Test IPA (6%) for their most recent marketing gimmick with Dominic. However, the stunt and title didn’t taste of witty political satire, but more of a randomly generated title created from twitter trends and facebook friends. Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader, (RIP Jezza) was invited to their brewery to have a mooch around and try the new bev designed to mock Dominic Cummings. Now we’re in second lockdown, thanks Keir. This wasn’t their first taste of pints and politics; in past elections, they offered a free pint to all those that partook in ‘democracy’. Nothing says Punk more than giving a free pint to a Tory for electing 4 more years of austerity so that they can evade those pesky taxes.
If you have issues with any of this behaviour so far, well, BrewDog don’t care about your complaints, in fact they wear them with pride, literally. In yet another mass marketing scheme, staff uniforms were decorated with ‘complaints’ they’d received. Complaints such as ‘It’s ok. But there’s a 90% chance you will see someone with a curly mustache drinking it’ or ‘BrewDog are hipster, cretin hangouts’ are among the quotes on the t-shirts. All very true, but silly criticisms really.
Would BrewDog be punk enough to boast about complaints, such as the backlash they gained from their advertisement (that was begging for money once again) that many criticised for mocking sex work, homelessness, and trans people? Or the complaints from the many people they have sued and almost bankrupt? The complaints from the many artists whose work has been stolen? Or actual punks being asked to leave their Glasgow bar due to their punk attire? This whole ‘complaints on t-shirts’ could have been created ironically by an artist, in the hopes of complaining about work stolen, to then have the idea stolen.
All these elaborate and extravagant mass marketing ploys aren’t thought up by a clan of smacked up punks in some dive-bar crack den, wondering how they can get the 50+ female demographic to swap over to drinking BrewDog. They’re designed and devised by marketing experts, or at least people applying for positions in marketing with BrewDog. There’s a fast growing community of disgruntled past interviewees who believe their ideas have been stolen from the interview process. Their interview process looks like a full time job in itself, which involves giving ideas for almost all aspects of the company, like having to create ‘an idea for a new beer launch’. Simple.
At one point, owner/captain/cunt, James Watt took to Twitter to mock an unsuccessful interviewee, Jenny Frankart, as she invoiced the company for her interview process. James tweeted a picture of the invoice, ridiculing the idea of charging for an unsuccessful interview. However, he suspiciously omitted some key points to the dispute, such as the interview process taking 5 months, Jenny not being reimbursed for flights as agreed, and being asked to come up with the entire 2018 marketing strategy. The picture of the invoice also conveniently cut off the section that stated that if Jenny wasn’t paid, she would hold the intellectual property of the work.
So, Jenny wasn’t a spiteful loser trying to get paid for an interview out of spite; she simply wanted to be paid for her work, or remain the owner of it. This tweet of James’ seemed to backfire, as it brought together, very publicly, the community of the victims of stolen work and interview bamboozling. BrewDog may want to update their Modern Slavery Statement, as there seems to be alot of unpaid labour surrounding their crafty corporation.
Though not through the interview process, an agency claimed they pitched the idea of Punk AF low alcohol beer to BrewDog but the campaign was unsuccessful. The company was then surprised to see that their idea had gone ahead, but no payment sailed their way from the captain or any crewmates. A friend of mine, a graphic designer, even had some ideas stolen from an interview process with BrewDog. However, he told me ‘I honestly can’t even fully remember the idea it was that long ago’. So I guess that’s my hot scoop gone cold.
Those that do manage to become a part of the BrewDog pack after jumping through the interview hoops are rewarded with the National Living Wage. This shows the real dystopian world we currently live in, and not the imaginative Watt World that BrewDog mercilessly wants to terraform. Giving your workers enough money to merely live is a cause for celebration these days. Well done worker, you can have bread and heat this winter, aren’t we a lovely bunch.
If none of these tales have yet soured your taste for BrewDog (and they have several delicious sour beers) then you can join them. You could purchase the Brewdog business book – Business for Punks – where you can learn all their great punk tips, like being tight with money (see interview scheme) or to not bother with peoples advice and not even start a business, this from a business advice book.
The company worth over £1.7 billion is always shaking the can looking for ‘investors’ to join this ‘small craft punk brewery’, but these shares are closer to discount cards than an actual investment. Equity for Punks. Oxymorons. The money is fed back to the fat cats they once ridiculed. In fact, not only is BrewDog for sale, but Punk (or at least the copyright term) was washed, packaged and sold off to BrewDog with a pretty wee bow. James stated that he was simply trying to protect his punk brand by gaining the copyright, cause nothing screams punk more than legally owning the term so that none of the other kids can play with it. Punk™ terms and conditions apply.
The BrewDog copyright flag was then planted on any land they believed they could conquer. Colonialism in craft cans. One victim was Draft Punk, a bar that was threatened with legal action due to using Punk in their name. Didn’t they know BrewDog owned Punk now? Another small bar, Lone Wolf, was hounded by the feral copyright beasts, as BrewDog owned this for a Gin product that was on the horizon (now just named The Wolf, ironically more alone now without the word lone). For them, the cost of legal fees and dealing with the Punk™Pricks at BrewDog almost financially ruined them. As a noble Captain, James took no responsibility. The lawyers were sacrificed on both occasions; shown the plank, carrying all responsibility.
With some poetic beauty, BrewDog were sued by the Elvis Estate in regards to their beer Elvis Juice (which is as sweet as the tunes of Elvis). They missed all sense of irony, with a statement aimed at Elvis that couldn’t describe their past adventures with copyright any better – ‘Here at BrewDog, we don’t take too kindly to petty pen pushers attempting to make a fast buck by discrediting our good name under the guise of copyright infringement’. That’s the punk barrel calling the can Elvis. To respond, they grabbed a publicity team again and the owners decided to change their names to Elvis to smuggly state ‘from this point forward, Elvis Juice is named after us’. It didn’t work.
So BrewDog, not the rebellious punks they so desperately want to be seen as, just a pack of bourgeoisie bastards. I doubt Dickie (the other co-creator) would still stand by his idea of ‘seeing themselves as he lone and rebellious independent, against the boardroom ethos of most major breweries’? The mantra he confesses to always having of ‘them and us’ is still very fitting, the elite against the masses.
I hope that this somehow finds its way to James Watt as I’ve decided to join him in not just the craft industry, but also have fun changing my name. I shall now be known as Punk Wild Wolf James Watt BrewDog Rowlands. For my first and final brew, I am selling one, and only one, luxury exclusive pre-post-apocalyptic craft beer for 1p, named James Watt is a bit of a twat and I hope to not get sued. Enjoy responsibly. Once the order is in, I will have a campaign to raise funds of £10,000. See you in court, James.