BrewDog— Selling out of a Garage to $400M in Annual Revenue

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Good morning! It's Tuesday, August 8th - Today we are tracking how BrewDog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie went from making craft beer in their garage to owning a $2B company!


BrewDog— Selling out of a Garage to $400M in Annual Revenue

BrewDog was founded in 2007 when James Watt and Martin Dickie began making craft beers in their garage alongside their beloved dog.

Today, those two Scottish friends turned their craft beer operation into a ~$2B company!

So, What’s BrewDog?

BrewDog is the #1 craft brewer in Europe and is quickly expanding into the U.S. market, but this billion-dollar company had humble beginnings.

Watt and Dickie left their jobs as crab fishermen to pursue their passion for craft beer, filling, capping, and selling at local farmer’s markets. Brewdog had its first big break when they won a beer competition sponsored by British grocery giant Tesco. Following their victory, the retailer contracted BrewDog to sell 2,000 cases a week across 400+ Tesco stores.

With the influx of demand, BrewDog took out bank loans to speed up production and Watt quit his part-time fishing job that was funding their operations.

It wasn’t long until BrewDog became a beloved beer brand throughout Scotland and much of Europe. While beer distribution is at the center of BrewDog’s business model, the company’s deployed some creative revenue streams to generate over $400M a year.

  • Beer– BrewDog produces nearly 700,000 barrels a year with its 36 different beers.

  • Bars– BrewDog has over 100 DogTap bar locations spread across Europe and the United States. These bars serve as playgrounds for adults, accompanying beer with amenities like slides and duckpin bowling.

  • Hotels– BrewDog has an interesting take on hospitality, creating three breweries that also serve as hotels for guests. Their hotels have a consistent 82% occupancy rate and have been included in Time Magazine’s list of 100 “Greatest Places”.

  • Streaming– Watt and Dickie launched the BrewDog Network in 2019, which is an on-demand video subscription service that combines Netflix and craft beer. The streaming model generates some revenue but mostly serves to solidify the BrewDog brand. 

How They Win

Marketing Masters

BrewDog entered a David versus Goliath battle by wading into the beer industry that was already dominated by multi-billion-dollar companies. But Watt’s marketing ingenuity turned every obstacle into a victory.

The first major obstacle came with the launch of their Tokyo Brew which was marketed as “Britain’s Strongest Beer”. Soon after the launch, the Beer Industry Association, which is headed by big-league members like Heineken, Molson Coors, and Diago, filed an injunction claiming BrewDog violated the industry’s Code of Ethics.

BrewDog put the legal battle at the center of their marketing and beer lovers rallied around the new company taking on industry behemoths attempting to push them out.

This set the rebellious standard for BrewDog’s future marketing efforts, which range from parachuting dozens of taxidermied cats onto British streets during London rush hour to the founders legally changing their first name to Elvis to avoid a lawsuit over their “Elvis Juice” beer release.

Building a community

When most brands discuss building a community, it is generally all talk. But for BrewDog, their community funding efforts kept the company alive when banks refused to give out more loans.

BrewDog began its “Equity for Punks” program in 2009 and has since acquired 120,000 beer-drinking investors who collectively own 22% of the company. These community investors have raised $95M for the company, but they also help in another big way.

Punk Partners have skin in the game and serve as brand ambassadors across Europe and the United States. Even better, BrewDog analyzes the location data of their investment partners when opening new pub and hotel locations. This ensures that new BrewDog operations are in hot spots where community investors are ready to help promote its success.



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