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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Damage Control

This is a rather remarkable statement from a brewery:
We know Punk IPA have been a little inconsistent of late. Here is why and here is what we are going to do about it.

However before we get onto that, 2012 is going to see an evolution of BrewDog. We have definitely created loads of buzz over the last couple of years but the main aim this year is to get people speaking about what is in their glass as opposed to all the other stuff. No fighting with CAMRA, no falling out with Germans, no punishing animals with sticks and no legal battle with the Portman Group.
BrewDog has definitely spent more time than any brewery I know trying to get attention. They do just about whatever it takes to make sure you're thinking of BrewDog--except, apparently, keeping their eye on the important ball, their beer. I find what follows to be implausible: they blame the poor quality of their flagship Punk IPA on variations in malt quality and hop supply. But brewers deal with this ever year, and it's part of the business to make sure you have the recipe you want before the beer goes out the door. But leave that aside.

Craft breweries face tough times when they grow. There are certain moments in growth that seem particularly dangerous--from small to medium-sized or medium-sized to large. The systems strain and wheeze, and sometimes beer quality suffers. It's an incredibly dangerous moment, coming when the brewery is trying to solidify a larger customer base--exactly the wrong time to be putting out substandard beer.

Rarely does a brewery admits mistakes and (more or less) owns them, promising to do better. It will be interesting to see what happens with BrewDog. Like that ADHD kid in the back of the classroom who's willing to eat his own boogers to get attention, the brewery has definitely stayed in the spotlight. Now they promise they'll do their homework and turn in their assignments on time. Let's see what happens.


Errata. This is, incidentally, somewhat related to the recent kerfuffle over Sam Calagione's response to critical comments on BeerAdvocate--an issue I've assiduously avoided mentioning til now.


  1. I picked up on the Sam vs BA connectin as soon as I read the quote. I will say, their apporach is a bit easier to swallow than Sam's toe-the-line-up-with-craft-beer-method. At least BrewDog has put it upon themselves to fix the problem rather than asking it's consumers to "pretty-please still like us/me."

  2. I was in Belmont Station the other day and overheard a conversation about Brew Dog and how they can't sell any anymore. Apparently they couldn't keep it on the shelf when the buzz was new but sales have tanked. Welcome, Brew Dog, to stage two of the evolution of a brewery where the hype wears off and all the attention is on the beer and its quality. To their great credit, they have realized it, are honest about it and are committed to focusing on quality.

  3. Yep. Growing pains. We're experiencing that here, increasing production from 104 BBL in 2010 to 114 in 2011. 9.6% growth! The beer still seems to be OK.

    Your simile involving boogers just gave me a gimmicky ingredient idea.

  4. I like breweries owning their mistakes. Lagunitas gave us possibly the best example EVER of a business doing just that by releasing Lagunitas Sucks.

    In fairness to BrewDog it seems that within the last few times I've seen them in the news, they've been heralded as the "largest" or "fastest-growing," etc, etc. They must be doing something correctly.

    At least I hope so or these Equity for Punks shares are really going to come back and bite me in the ass. :)

  5. Has anyone had tactical nuclear penguin? that's where they got the buzz

  6. while I haven't had Tactical Nuclear Penguin, every brewdog beer I have tried has been either awful (one tasted like sawdust to me) or just okay, which for the price made it unacceptable in my book. I bought 2 Brewdog beers when they first started distributing in the US, I can't even remember what they were all I remember is that I have stayed away ever since.