BrewDog of the United Kingdom is the king of self promotion. The brand came to prominence with its brewing of the former world’s strongest beer, Tokyo*. Numerous higher ABV beers, controversial ad campaigns, and even a TV show later, the tiny brewery from Aberdeen is now an international player in the beer scene.
This summer, the tide has changed for founders James Watt and Martin Dickie, who have been called out publicly for toxic practices in the workplace. A group of former employees known as Punks With A Purpose are accusing the brewery of having a different persona behind closed doors. The fun, cheeky, and often overly nice ownership are being accused of “lies, hypocrisy and deceit.” They also had a botched marketing campaign where a gold can of their Punk IPA turned out to be more brass than gold. Disgruntled employees or two faced management?
What ultimately affects the brewery are two things: their public image and their anticipated IPO. While their image in the beer community is really more of an opinion, their IPO has much more concrete financial consequences. A company can often get away with a questionable reputation yet still sell well. An IPO has less to do with public perception and more to do with a combination of operations, sales, and the bottom line.
Will there be a point of no return for BrewDog? It’s hard to say. No one really cares if a brewery like Budweiser did something like this. They are supposed to. They are the perpetual bad guy among craft beer drinkers. But BrewDog has a history firmly planted in craft beer soil. Transgressions like these (if true) are the equivalent of a two fingered salute to us fans. Maybe it is time for James and Martin to take a step back out of the limelight and get their brand under control. Get back to just brewing beer, and let their actions speak for themselves.