BrewDog's New Year Resolution 2009
Firstly as you can see from our video review here
2008 has been a pretty crazy year for us. A rollercoaster of expansion, new markets, problems with the Portman Group, being massively understaffed and making some pretty killer beers.
With the highs and lows of 2008 now put to bed and plans pretty much finalised for 2009 we have one over-riding New Year's ambition:
We want to be better at everything we do. Like a lot, lot better. We want to make every single aspect of our company and of our products better!
That is not to say what we have done has been bad or we are unhappy with our progress to date. Quite the opposite, we have done plenty of cool stuff and made some pretty special beers. However we are also first to hold up our hands and admit that we have got it wrong at times too.
What people have to realise is that we are only 18 months old as a company, and only have 18 months experience in this unforgiving industry. We are far from the finished, polished article. We are a little raw, a little rough round the edges and a bit naive sometimes. However we are also real, honest and completely committed to making the best beer we can. We are aware of things we can do better and we are working as hard as we possibly can to make sure we do so.
From carbonisation levels and how well our beer has travelled, to how we introduce special beers and coherence of our product range, to our marketing and promotional materials - we just want to improve every single aspect of everything we do. In fact getting better at everything BrewDog does is pretty much all we care about (just don't tell any of our girlfriend's we said that!).
One of the main issues we have had this year has been our pricing in the US market. Our beers have been too expensive there, in stark contradiction to the irrelevance of our branding and where we want to position the product. We began exporting to the US when we were only 5 months old as a company; our production was tiny at the time. We had no economies of scale or efficiencies in our small operation. We had to charge a premium just to ensure we covered our costs and did not make a loss. Compounding this, we had no knowledge of the US market and how the 3-tier distribution system worked and how this affected end price. Furthermore the exchange rate was very unkind initially. Consequently, we have recently completely reviewed our US pricing structure and the exchange has also got better. We passed all the savings in marginal costs from our expansion directly to our importer. This should all mean that our beers are sitting on the shelves at a far more reasonable price in America in 2009. Watch out for them!
Secondly our lagers so far have been a little off the mark. Hop Rocker started off true to its BrewDog roots, a proper spicy, hoppy aggressive pilsner. Then we did something we should not have done. We listened to a reluctant local market and really toned this beer down. We lost sight of our principles to try and make an impact in a rural Scottish market reared on mass market beers. Our lager became too mainstream and ended up a half-hearted compromise. We also got the branding of the lager badly wrong, starting off as Hop Rocker, changing to Cult and wavering allot in between them. All this has been resolved and both these beers very much put to bed. They will both be replaced by a brand new beer; 77 lager. A proper BrewDog beer and one which we have spent about 6 months secretly perfecting. It is a hoppy 4.9% pilsner with plenty of character, bite and flavour, mixing North American hops with European lager classics. This time if our local market does not like it we are definitely not going to change it.
Furthermore we have had some issues with the quality and speed of service for our online customers. This was due to some staffing issues. Our online sales person left in September leaving no-one in the post. Graeme, one of our brewers, was drafted in to help processing the online orders. However we were also busy brewing so he could not always process orders as quickly as he wanted to. This part of the business also grew quicker than we had anticipated leaving us massively understaffed here. However we have recently appointed Angela to run our online store, she only started 10 days ago but she is great. Happy, friendly and very efficient. She is now in complete control of the online shop and will ensure you get your orders very quickly. You can call her on 01346 519009 or email her on email@example.com to discuss any aspect of an order, or just to say hi! She is also going to be the main person behind www.punkdog.com and www.labelism.com. You are just going to have to be patient and you should find out in March about the wonders that will await you on these 2 cool new websites.
Fourthly, we have had some issue with some of our beers not travelling as well as we would have liked. The carbonation levels for a lot of our export beers was also set too low initially. Furthermore the beer gets pretty hot en route which we found out the hard way. The heat the beer was exposed to during shipping may have resulted in a hastening of ageing. All of this meant that some export customers did not get to see our beers at their best. Now we only ship in fully chilled and insulated containers. We have invested in a new bottling line which double pre-evacuates the bottles to ensure there is not oxygen left in there and we have also changed the carbonation levels for our export beers. All this should mean they are ship-shape and clock up the nautical miles with a smile on their faces which will put a smile on yours.
Finally, at times we have completely dazzled distributors, customers and consumers alike with an ever widening portfolio of products and experiments. We are so enthusiastic about really pushing the boundaries in beer that it is very easy to get carried away. Our core portfolio of products is pretty solid and settled. However at the fringes it has tended to divide and multiply at a pretty alarming rate and I am not sure anyone (including myself) could keep up. We are all about exciting people's imaginations, not confusing them. So we are preparing a pretty settled product line-up for BrewDog, a little more stream-lined and a little easier to understand. Full details of the BrewDog 2009 Dream Team should be on the website soon. We are still going to try and redefine what beer can be and we are still going to experiment our little socks off. Most of this will be through a cool little project called ABSTRAKT. We want to be crazy, but we realise the avenue for this needs to be a little more structured and coherent. You are just going to have to wait a little while to find out exactly what ABSTRAKT is going to be........
So that is a little insight into what we are going to be doing in the next 12 months. Improving absolutely every single aspect of everything we do is all we are focussed on. And if we have some fun and unsettle a few institutions along the way then that is cool too.
We have some pretty exciting plans for 2009 and we hope you all want to be part of them.
Posted in - news
- Allowing customer to pick their own mixed cases would be a excellent improvement to the e-shop. A case of Tokio, Paradox Springbank, Punk IPA and Chaos Theory would be my first choice. Keep on the good work. Ricardo07.01.2009
- Inspiring stuff, guys. Totally understandable about streamlining the BrewDog portfolio in 2009 although if you’re considering retiring Storm anytime soon give me some advance warning – I love that beer!! G Dunbar05.01.2009
- Look forward to trying the 77 and ABSTRAKT bits. Hope to see more cask conditioned stuff too. The cask week at The Rake was just spectacular! Dubbel05.01.2009
- Awsome news! Looking forward to some more rasberry smokehead by the end of the year! magic_dave603.01.2009