Much like my old digital agency bigmouthmedia, BrewDog is a Scottish success story, and the UK's fastest growing food and drinks company for the past three years.
Despite me shouting from the rooftops, many people still haven't heard of BrewDog. Their awesome brews have been creeping onto the shelves of major supermarkets over the last few years, and they have been (not so) quietly creating a craft beer revolution.
I was sat at my desk in 2007, when we received an enquiry from an Aberdeen based beverage company called BrewDog. The name got my attention. I had a peek at their site. Back then, BrewDog had six or seven beers, including their flagship brew - the 6% Punk IPA. Both the founders were 24 years of age. I was 25. I love ale and craft beer, so without knowing it, they firmly planted themselves on my radar.
PISSING PEOPLE OFF, BREAKING RECORDS
It soon became clear that BrewDog don't do things by halves. This was a hardcore company. In 2008, they brewed the world's strongest beer - Tokyo - a 16%, rich, smoky stout. It came to the point that the Portman Group (an alcohol industry marketing regulatory body) banned most of their beer. They didn't care. In fact they sued them.
In 2009, they brewed yet another record breaking beer. This time, Tactical Nuclear Penguin (a 32% ABV beer) became the world's strongest beer. In the same year they also aged a beer on the deck of a fishing boat, smashed loads of industrial beers with a golf club and grew the business by 200% (in a recession).
EQUITY FOR PUNKS - THE BREWDOG CROWDFUNDING INITIATIVE
Every time I read about BrewDog, they seemed to be pushing boundaries, and smashing records (and shit beer). In 2009 they launched Equity For Punks, one of the first crowdfunding initiatives to hit the UK.
Equity For Punks allowed craft beer lovers and the general public to buy shares in BrewDog. This round of investment saw over 1,300 people buy BrewDog shares. I missed out....this time.
ANY PR IS GOOD PR
As well as annoying the Portman Group, BrewDog's 'on-the-edge' marketing and PR continued to raise eyebrows. In 2010 they brewed another record breaking 55% beer called the End Of History, and packed the bottles into dead squirrels, making it the world's most expensive beer ever as they 'fused art, craft beer and taxidermy'. Ultimately, this was about getting noticed, and educating people that beer can be enjoyed, and that there are alternatives to the generic, mainstream beers available.
They then went and brewed a beer at the bottom of the ocean (and called it Sunk Punk), dispensed a 28% beer from a modified deers head, and drove a tank around London to launch their BrewDog Camden bar. They don't do things in halves (but they do drinks in schooners).
I BOUGHT BREWDOG SHARES
Enough was enough. I missed out in 2009, so with some cash I saved up in 2010 and 2011, I finally bought shares in BrewDog through their Equity For Punks scheme. This second crowdfunding round saw BrewDog raise £2.2 million by the end of 2011.
So not only did I own part of a craft beer company, I also got a lifetime discount in their bars, an online discount, an invite to their epic annual AGM, and updates on how the company was progressing.
Oh, and also in 2011, BrewDog helped change the law.
Through a government lobbying protest with a dwarf, science minister David Willets confirmed that the coalition government would tear up 300-year-old measures laws, allowing a new two-thirds of a pint, or ‘schooner’ measure to be available – which is perfectly suited to more flavoursome craft beers.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
By the end of 2011, BrewDog had opened 4 bars around the UK. In 2012 they moved to a brand new brewery (purchased with the crowdfunding cash), and opened 6 more bars.
In 2013, BrewDog raised another £4.25 million through the third Equity For Punks crowdfunding round. In fact they raised over £1 million within the first 24 hours.
BrewDog has grown sales at an annualised rate of 167 per cent over the past five years. They now have bars in Stockholm, Helsinki, Toyko, Sao Paulo, Gothenburg, Bologne, Barcelona and Firenze, with plenty more to come in the USA and other countries.
From a turnover of £8 million in 2011, they are looking to turnover over £30 million in 2014. Yet BrewDog only makes up 0.046% of the UK beer market, which means plenty of room for disruption and growth.
Another perk of being an Equity Punk, is that I am invited to different bar openings, tastings and other events throughout the year. Earlier this year, I was delighted to attend the grand opening of BrewDog Shepherd's Bush, with an in-house tasting with co-founder Martin Dickie.
The craft beer revolution rolls on...
INTERESTED IN CROWDFUNDING?
The UK and USA have seen a small boom in crowdfunding projects. Websites such as Seedrs and Crowdcube have new projects launching weekly, with startups and small businesses giving you their pitch and a chance to invest.
BrewDog raised £7 million over the past four years, from three separate equity fund-raising issues. Given interest rates on savings accounts are nothing but dire at the moment, crowdfunding is worth a look...but remember, there are risks!
GO BUY BREWDOG!Want to own your own shares in BrewDog? Now you can. Find out more!
Despite my preaching, not all my friends and family like BrewDog beers. Some are pretty strong, but if you're looking for a nice few starter ales, I would strongly recommend Dead Pony Pale ale, This Is Lager for the devout lager drinkers amongst you, and Jack Hammer, for a slightly stronger, fruity flavour.
Do you fancy owning your own shares in BrewDog? Well, good news - BrewDog launched Equity For Punks IV last month (April 2015), and are looking to secure £25 million from craft beer lovers around the world.
For more information, visit www.brewdog.com/equityforpunks and don't forget to enter my referral code for more goodies - R432272 ;) You can buy shares up to April 2016 (although the crowdfunding round may close sooner).