Innovative Retailer – BrewDog


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The Name: BrewDog

The Place: Headquartered in Scotland (Ellon is the main bit with the original site in Fraserburgh used as the test bed for beers) but bars and shops are scattered all over the globe.

The Story: Here at Retail Insider we like a company who shakes things up…


BrewDogs: Martin Dickie and James Watt

Yeah, shakes things up: A company who takes an industry and says ‘Hey grandpa, shut up and listen to us’.

Yeah, grandpa, listen to us: A company who cocks a snook at the drinks watchdog and makes a beer that is served out of a stuffed squirrel.

Yeah, stuffed squirrel… hang on, what? It’s OK. They were grey. A company who produces the world’s strongest beer (at the time) and calls it Tactical Nuclear Penguin.

Oh no. Is the penguin stuffed too? Is that even legal? Wait. There are no illegally stuffed penguins. Come on, this is a company who won the highly prized Prince’s Trust Scottish Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008 for goodness sake.

Oh. My. Did Prince Charles know they were killing penguins? STOP IT. This is completely typical of what happens when people talk about BrewDog. It all gets out of hand so take a deep breath and let’s start again.

OK: BrewDog was founded in 2007 by two young Scots – James watt and Martin Dickie. And they like provoking people.

I see that: We are talking about very innovative marketing which made them famous from day one, punching way above their weight in the amount of coverage garnered. But we are also interested in their branch out into successful bars and now uniquely bottle shops.


Don’t worry, it’s not red

Just one question – are there squirrels in the bars? Alright, to confirm once and for all, only twelve bottles of The End of History packed in a squirrel were ever produced and they were snapped up pretty quickly despite retailing at up to £700.

I am so in the wrong business: But getting back to the innovation, alongside the development of ever more creative beers BrewDog are also opening bars quicker than you can say … Hello My Name is Vladimir.

But why would you say that? Because it’s a beer objecting to Russia’s clampdown on homosexuality featuring a Warhol-style portrait of Vlad looking foxy.

Are they insane? He’ll probably come over and annexe Fraserburgh: What can I say. I told you BrewDog had shaken up the retailing of beer good and proper didn’t I. Everything from the design of the bottles to the artwork on the labels comes from an ‘Up Yours’ punk ethos and people love it.

How much do they love it? 10,000 investors strong. £4 million raised in the third round of fundraising. If they want money it’s readily available because at the end of the day…

It’s a pint of two halves: Exactly. The best marketing in the world is no good if the product isn’t up to much and their beer brings in the gongs at the international beer awards so we know it’s the real deal.

So where can I buy this nectar? Obviously anarcho-punks aren’t going to sell into boring old supermarkets: Hold your horses, irreverent they may be, stupid they ain’t. Of course they have listings in every large retailer going. But where the punk DIY ethos is still present is in the innovation for 2014 – the Bottle Dog.


Bottledog, London

No, no I can’t bear it. No more taxidermy: Relax, it’s not packaging, just the name for the chain of beer shops BrewDog is busy setting up. The first one opened in Grays Inn Road in London and sells 250 beers. You can take beer home from taps in the shop, attend a beer tasting class and they will also sell the home brewing equipment to a whole new crowd of punters with not a beardy in sight.

Well, that does sound good: But if you want the bar atmosphere than as mentioned BrewDog has whole  chain of them starting with the major Scottish cities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh followed by big English cities and then in 2013 the first foray abroad to Stockholm. In 2014 they cashed in on a bit of football fever and brought BrewDog to Sao Paolo.

And not a dead animal in sight, thank the lord: Er, well not quite. Ghost Deer is served from a deer’s head mounted on the wall in the Edinburgh outlet.

Yes, well, it all makes a change from Fosters, and what it is to be loved! Yes, they’re popular with everyone unless you work at the Portman Group.

Not familiar with the company: It’s not a company, it’s the name of the UK’s drinks watchdog. BrewDog and the Portman Group like nothing better than a ding dong, mainly over the alcoholic strength of BrewDog’s beer.

Too strong? Yes indeed, although BrewDog was eventually cleared of contravening the code of practice. Afterwards as a little gesture the brewery produced a supremely weak beer just for the fun of it and called it ‘Nanny State’.


BrewDog bar, Clapham

Ouch. I know. Still keeps everyone on their toes.

What’s next? Rumour has it spirits are next on the agenda with stills on order and employment notices put out for distillers.

Should I alert the badgers, you know for packaging purposes… Might be a good idea.

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