Yesterday we posted some background on BrewDog, the Scottish brewery that is pushing boundaries and palates in the U.K. and beyond. Today’s second post in this week’s series looks at the way James Watt and Martin Dickie, the men behind BrewDog, are converting the masses to their way of thinking and drinking.
The terms punk and clown are usually used in a pejorative way, but not when it comes to what Watt and Dickie are doing to promote their beer. In true punk fashion and reminiscent of the sarcastically anti-establishment opening monologue to the movie Trainspotting, a poster of which hung on Tammy’s dorm room wall, BrewDog’s non-conformist attitude about “breaking rules, taking risks, upsetting trends, and unsettling institutions” is consistently communicated on their packaging (just read a bottle or two). James Watt’s background holds true to this view. In March he told Tammy and a group of admirers in Baltimore:
I was born way up in the Northeast of Scotland and went to school there. Then I studied law and economics at the University of Edinburgh. I spent five years studying and got a legal job. I was fully qualified as a lawyer. But I walked out after two weeks. I just sat there for two weeks with a shirt and tie on, and thought, “I’m not going to spend my life here. This just sucks. The hell with this.” I was just looking at the clock waiting for five o’clock, so I got a job in a Scottish fishing boat. I worked the deck for a few years. I did my captain’s qualification. I spent three years taking a fishing boat to sea, which was just an awesome experience. Then I decided to start a beer company and now I’m in Baltimore with you guys.
It’s not just what they stand for but how they present themselves. BrewDog has done an excellent job making the brewery about more than the beer, for better or worse. In addition to the sleek, edgy graphics and punk-attitude phrases on their packaging, Watt and his team have an active blog on the brewery’s site and more than one spinoff-website connected to their beer: PunkDog.com, where you can order beer with personalized labels, and Zeitgeist.com, where fans of BrewDog’s black lager of the same name run their own creative online community. Watt explains the thinking behind using the internet to promote his beer and vision:
I think people want to know the people who make what they consume and the story behind it. I think using videos and websites is such an easy way to communicate. It almost levels the playing field between us and the big companies. In a traditional model, we can’t compete with the big companies’ advertising budgets, but when you flip it online, it’s not about how much money you have. It’s about how engaging your content is and how often you update your content, and how you can relate to the people who consume your product. I think online is an awesome thing for a small company to take advantage of and it’s something we enjoy doing as well.
They clearly not only enjoy doing it, but they do it well. Anyone who has seen these clowns show up to beer events in funny costumes or viewed the online sketches for Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck!, BrewDog’s deadliest weapons in the ABV arms race, would have a hard time arguing that it’s not some of the funniest shit on the internet. If you haven’t yet, take a gander. Just don’t blame us if you end up laughing beer out your nose.
You can meet James Watt and taste a good chunk of available BrewDog beers at ChurchKey this Wednesday from 6:00 to 9:00pm. For more details, check out this week’s event post or our D.C. Beer Events Calendar.