Our Beer Journey so far
Our biggest mission when we set up BrewDog was to make other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are. And that is still our biggest mission today.
Martin and I (James) were bored of the industrially brewed lagers and stuffy ales that dominated the UK beer market
We decided the best way to fix this undesirable predicament was to brew our own. Consequently in April 2007 BrewDog was born. Both only 24 at the time, we leased a building in Fraserburgh, got some scary bank loans, spent all our money on stainless steel and started making some hardcore craft beers. We brewed tiny batches, filled bottles by hand and sold our beers at local markets and out of the back of our beat up old van. Our biggest mission when we set up BrewDog was to make other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are. And that is still our biggest mission today.
Things started getting crazy for us in 2008. They have stayed crazy, or perhaps got even crazier, ever since.
We somehow persuaded the banks to give us money to buy loads more tanks and a proper bottling machine. We masterminded the UK's strongest ever beer, Tokyo. This resulted in a huge media storm, and if you believed the headlines, the downfall of Western civilisation. The Portman Group pretty much banned all of our beers. But we started exporting to Sweden, Japan and America. We also got to go on TV with Oz Clark. And in only the 2nd year of BrewDog we became Scotland’s largest independent brewery.
By this point, BrewDog had become the UK's fastest-growing alternative beer brand, and Punk IPA became the top-selling IPA in Scandinavia.
To keep up with the sheer demand for our beers we needed more huge tanks, but had no room inside our Fraserburgh brewery to put them. So when they arrived, outside they went. We also launched Equity for Punks. In a ground-breaking first, we offered people the opportunity to buy shares in our company online. Over 1,300 invested and our anti-business business model was born. We continued to push boundaries and smash people's perceptions of what beer can be by brewing the world's strongest ever beer, Tactical Nuclear Penguin at 32%. We also aged a beer on the deck of a fishing boat, smashed loads of industrial beers with a golf club and grew our business by 200% (in the worst recession for generations).
2010 was a veritable roller coaster for us as we continued our mission to spread the craft beer gospel.
Opening our first craft beer bar in our home town of Aberdeen was a dream come true, and we were blown away by the response from customers. We picked up the Gold Medal for Hardcore IPA at the World Beer Cup and James became Scotland's youngest ever Entrepreneur of the Year. We brewed a 55% abv beer and packed it in roadkill, making it the world's most expensive beer ever as we fused the seldom-colliding worlds of art, craft beer and taxidermy. We managed to find space for even more fermentation tanks in our increasingly cramped brewery and we also held our first ever AGM for our Equity Punk shareholders in a very snowy Aberdeen in December.
Due to the run-away success of BrewDog Aberdeen we were able to open bars in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and a flagship London venue in Camden.
In true BrewDog style we announced our arrival in the capital by driving down Camden High Street in a BrewDog tank. We also brewed a beer at the bottom of the ocean (seriously), dispensed a 28% beer from a modified deer's head and grew our business over 200% (again!) as we started building our new brewery with demand for our beers reaching scary new levels. Most significantly we also launched Equity for Punks II, raising over £2.2m to help us continue to grow and welcoming over 5,000 new shareholders. Martin also dressed up as the Queen for our year end video blog.
2012 was one hell of a year for BrewDog. We moved from our cobbled-together brewery in Fraserburgh to a state of the art brewery in Ellon.
What started out as a dream five years earlier had become our new reality. The world-class HQ enabled us to tighten every aspect of production, whilst making even more amazing craft beer than ever before. We were able to grow revenues by 95%, and were awarded the Fastest Growing Company in Scotland and also listed in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 as the fastest growing food and drink company in the UK. Six new BrewDog bars opened across the UK, with a new London flagship in Shoreditch as Diageo infamously cheated us from an award for our bars which resulted in another global media storm. We also projected ourselves naked onto the houses of parliament, made a special beer for the Olympics, launched the phenomenal Dead Pony Club and hosted 2,000 Equity Punks in Aberdeen for our rock ‘n roll AGM.
2013 was pretty epic. We raised £4.25m through Equity for Punks III, smashing crowd-funding records along the way, welcome almost 10,000 new investors from 22 different countries.
We recorded the first season of our own BrewDogs TV show in the US, brewing amazing beers with some of America’s best craft brewers. We opened our first ever international bar in Stockholm, holding a funeral for generic beer in the centre of the Swedish capital. We were also flattered and bemused in equal measure when a fake BrewDog bar opened in China. In beer terms, we launched the insanely popular Jack Hammer, doubled the size of our brand new brewery and held mandatory company yoga sessions for all our team in the carpark. (One of these is a lie).
2014 was a whirlwind as we continued our mission to make other people as passionate about great beer as we are by adding more beers, more bars, more customers and more team members to our business.
Our assault on humanity continued with the opening of 12 new BrewDog bars as far afield as Brazil and Japan, as well as our first BottleDog and the awesome DogTap at BrewDog HQ. We also updated our branding and hit the headlines for sticking it to The Portman Group as well as Russian premier, Vladimir Putin. We released 36 different BrewDog beers, unleashed Truck Norris on the world, hit the screens with a second season of BrewDogs and shipped our beers to 55 different countries. We did not sleep much.
In 2015 we launched the largest equity crowdfunding scheme in human history - Equity for Punks IV - breaking world records in the process.
We opened 17 new bars, including an epic new location in our home city of Aberdeen as well as the triple threat of awesome beer, food and BottleDog in the form of DogHouse in Glasgow. We also launched our first ShuffleDog (Leeds), Dog Eat Dog (Angel) and reclaimed central London for craft beer (BrewDog Soho). We also installed a kick-ass canning line at our Ellon brewery, swept the nation with the long-awaited canned Jack Hammer, and released the strongest canned ale in the world; Black Eyed King Imp. Our most amazing year yet saw us brew 65 different beers, hit the screens for a third season of Brew Dogs and debut plans for the largest venture in BrewDog history – taking on the USA with BrewDog Columbus.
In 2016 we set two world records; one for the highest ever equity crowdfunding raise and another for the most consecutive years in the sunday times fast track 100.
But we were only just getting started. Over the course of the year our incredible brewing team dialled in 82 different beers – including launching into the world Elvis Juice, Albino Squid Assassin, Jet Black Heart and (for a few weeks at least) Born to Die. We also opened a brand new 300HL brewhouse in Ellon, began construction of BrewDog Columbus and announced a stand-alone sour facility in Aberdeenshire. Plus we opened nine new bars from Berlin to York, welcomed 6,000 Equity Punks to our AGM and turned the world of spirits upside down with the announcement of LoneWolf. Oh, and we gave away the detailed recipes to each and every BrewDog beer we ever made.
In 2017 we celebrated the decade of dog; ten years since BrewDog came howling into the world. To mark this, we made a commitment to change the way we do business.
The Unicorn Fund was our pledge to give away 20% of our profits every single year, with 10% shared between our awesome crew and 10% donated to charity. This is a new blueprint for 21st Century business. We also launched Equity for Punks V taking our global community to over 70,000, began brewing both in Columbus and our standalone OverWorks beers in Ellon – and announced our plan to build a BrewDog brewery in Brisbane, Australia. We rocked two AGMs, one 34-beer #CollabFest and a hell of a lot of amazing releases like Hazy Jane, Jet Black Heart Nitro and Make Earth Great Again! (and we also hit the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 for a record sixth year in a row)
In 2018, we opened the world's first craft beer hotel - The DogHouse - right next to our Columbus brewery, as well as our very own beer museum.
We broke the world record for Equity Crowd Funding as Equity for Punks V closed at over £126m. And we launched the BrewDog Blueprint - a manifesto for the future, laying out our focus for beer, quality and people; our mission laid out in black and white.