Redditor Adds U.K. Perspective to BrewDog Sizzle vs. Steak Debate

Someone was kind enough to post my letter to Brew Dog over on the beer section of Reddit.com.  As I was perusing some of the responses to it, one in particular caught my eye.  It was from a fella in the U.K. who provided a whole new outlook on why Brew Dog keeps pulling these crazy stunts.  According to him it’s not for notoriety in the US, it’s to put craft beer on the map in the U.K.

I’m sharing it here with his blessing.  He writes: 

You’re obviously not from the UK otherwise you’d be aware that the idea of them doing a dis-service to craft beer is utter twaddle. Without BrewDog playing these games, no-one here would have heard of craft beer, let alone have the means (in terms of distribution and variety) with which to enjoy it. Yes they are a marketing juggernaut, but the UK Market needed just that to break down the barriers that have allowed hundreds more craft breweries, new and old alike, to focus on getting good beer into the hands of the consumer.

Look at Summer Wine Brewery, or Kernel – not only are they in many ways influenced by them, but do you think they’d have anywhere near the Market they have now without BrewDog crashing in on the scene? No. Hell, you couldn’t even get a sour beer on tap in the UK before BrewDog opened their bars. Unless of course you chose one of the many poorly maintained cask ales that you were told was “craft” simply through method of dispense rather than being an indicator of quality or care in production.

Also, I can personally refute the suggestion that they put the care of their beer second. The beer comes first, and these little stunts only support the rest of what comes out of the brewery. Does a single barrel in the back of a warehouse get all their attention? No. Production is laser focused on making sure the rest of the beer in the FVs is up to standard.

Apologies if this has come across as vitriolic, but watching and knowing how much effort James and Martin have put into building the UK craft beer scene up from almost nothing – without compromising their product – I can’t help but set the record straight.

So there you have it.  He thinks that all the nonsense is aimed at shaking things up in Old Blighty, not making money in the Colonies.  It’s a compelling argument and one that I hadn’t heard before.  I thought it might be enlightening to you boys and girls as well.  Plus I liked that he used the word ‘twaddle.’  ;)

So tell me, does this change and/or reinforce your thoughts about the shenanigans Martin and James get up to?

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Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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41 Comments on “Redditor Adds U.K. Perspective to BrewDog Sizzle vs. Steak Debate”

  1. September 8, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    pish posh.

    • September 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

      Pip pip, now John!

  2. Don
    September 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Cherio, Bob’s your Uncle, Blighmy

  3. ScottG
    September 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    I had the opportunity to try their 5AM Saint and it reminded me of the beers I loved most when I lived in England. A well balanced, tasty red ale. And looking at their core brews listed on their Wikipedia page, I don’t see outrageous.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brew_Dog

    And the English/UK beer scene probably needed a good shake, as it began to contract through mergers and acquisitions by bigger breweries.
    I’d also like to point out that both Dogfish and Sam Adams try new, and sometimes outrageous, beers while still maintaining a core of beers that provide their quality, yet more accessible beers to a wider audience. I know I’ve tried some of the many unique Dogfish beers simply because I knew their regular beers were really good.
    If nobody ever tried something new, we’d all still be walking around trying to hit a deer with a pointy stick.

    • September 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

      I agree that innovation is a good thing, but DFH and others tend to accomplish it without gonzo PR stunts. Either way, if the beer is good, it’s all good.

      • ScottG
        September 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

        The marketing might not be as gonzo, but there is some similarity. But they’re also marketing to a different crowd in the US than BrewDog is the UK.
        DFH consults with an archaeologist on recipes. That’s a little odd. It works, but it’s definitely not the norm in brewing.

        http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Beer-Archaeologist.html

        And UK advertizing can be…well…very odd. You’ve really got to go nuts sometimes to even attract a modicum of attention.

        • September 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

          Yes, without a Page 3 Porter they’ll get nowhere!

  4. September 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    “He thinks that all the nonsense is aimed at shaking things up in Old Bloody, not making money in the Colonies. It’s a compelling argument and one that I hadn’t heard before.”

    I seem to remember one of the commenters on this site making a similar argument at least a couple of times in the past, albeit much less eloquently. ;)

    Also, it’s “Old Blighty.” http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Old_Blighty

    • September 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

      Yes, but he wrote it with a charming accent!

    • September 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      P.S. I fixed Old Bloody/Blighty. Next you’ll tell me that they don’t call Ireland the Emeril Isle.

      They must love that guy over there…

      • Don
        September 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

        BAM!

        • September 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

          Emeril says:

          Shepherd’s Pie? BAM!

          Corned Beef and Cabbage? Kick it up a notch!

          Haggis? Ew, not gonna lie, Emeril thinks it’s kinda gross…

        • Don
          September 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

          I love how Emeril refers to himself in the third person!

        • September 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

          Yeah, he’s like Elmo that way… :)

        • September 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

          There are definitely worse combinations than Cajun food and Guinness!

  5. September 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Bollocks! ….or maybe not.

    Seems there could be some truth to that argument/perspective; however, now that they’ve established themselves (and brought along/fostered an established craft beer market in which to thrive) it may be time for them to put down the neon spray paint guns and start using watercolors and a finer brush.

    Just my thoughts.

    Cheers & Cheerio!
    @TheAlemonger

    • September 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

      Punks use spray paint – it’s in the “How to Be a Punk (And Win Friends)” manual!

  6. September 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    I have heard this argument about Brew Dog before. I agree with it. They are a marketing juggernaut. They know exactly what they’re doing with their marketing. It’s making a difference for craft beer fans and the Brew Dog brand in the UK.

    Having said that, let’s not forget that they’re marketing goes across the pond with their beers. They are never just marketing in the UK (at least not with the stunt marketing anyway). They know that. They choose to make a mark with it in the UK—sometimes at the expense of their brand perception here in the US. It’s a calculated move. One that they have thought through endlessly, I’m sure. Right now risking (maybe loosing) brand points in the US is obviously less important to gaining brand points in the UK for Brew Dog.

    They’ll stop or change their marketing tactics when they’ve made they’re point, achieved their goal or the marketing ceases to be effective (in whatever geography they deem important).

    That’s how I see it as a marketing professional. I’m growing tired of the stunts like you, Jim. But what they’re doing currently fits their brand positioning and is effective enough for them to keep doing it.

    There you have it, my two cents.

    • September 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

      Funny thing is I now appreciate what they’re doing for some reason. I mean serving beer out of a deer’s head? What’s not to like?!

  7. September 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Once again, I say let the market decide. However, hearing that pubs having been closing in Britain at an alarming rate, I can see why a craft brewer might want to get his/her foot in the door. If cask ales and traditional English pubs go the way of T-Rex (it’d be a cryin’ shame, no beer and skittles!), then craft beer will have to fill the void for discerning English palates.

    BTW: based on my own personal rate of consumption (truly humongous!) while there, in terms of percentages, the fair to excellent cask/real ales still far outnumbered the bad ones–especially in Yorks. (Ahh to enjoy yet another Plowman’s Lunch–my favorite: Double Gloucester, an Orange Pippin and a pint of the house bitter.)

    • September 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

      I think we’re spoiled here with all the selection and quality we enjoy. It’s hard to believe the U.K. is so far behind us when it comes to craft beer, but I guess that’s what comes with tradition.

  8. Molly
    September 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    A guy I’m trying to bone loves tactical nuclear penguin, so I put up with his stunt beer bullshit for the sake of my libido.
    That being said though, no amount of sex will get me to drink beer out of a squirrel bottle!

    • September 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      Ha ha! You sound like my kind of girl, all the way around!

    • Don
      September 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      When did this turn into Taxi Cab Confessions? Molly, as a man, if you really want to get this guy, go up to him and hell him you want to have sex with him. That’s usually all it takes.

      • September 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

        Yes, as Billy Crystal once said “Women need a reason to have sex. Guys just need a place!”

        • Don
          September 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

          Yeah, I’ve seen “When Harry Met Sally” too, but I just watch it for the music, and to get a little action from the wife…. ;)

        • September 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

          Yeah that elderly couple on the couch get ‘em hot!

      • ScottG
        September 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

        Maybe throw in the word “now” at the end of the sentence. We can be sorta dense, on occasion.

        • September 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

          Being naked when you say it is also a clue us guys appreciate…

  9. Timothy McGinnis
    September 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    I have to agree with the counter-argument on the Brewdog idea. As an American living here, I have grown to love cask ale but I also know that it is not the only show in town. CAMRA would have you believe otherwise but honestly if it was not for Brewdog, I would have had a harder time finding breweries such as Redemption, Kernel or any of the other, progressive English beers. I am not big on Brewdogs taste but I have big respect for what they do in this little island. What they do is no different than Stone or Sierra but in this country where people like Green King (Where I live just down the road) keep pawning of the tastes of 1890, I appreciate the idea that beer can be something new and different. Yeah, Green King and the lot do good beers, but they will probably never venture to far from what has worked for them for the last 100 years. Well, they did buy up all of the Galaxy Hops from Tasmania and did a decent Pale with it. I say let Brewdog run for as long as they want because honestly, what can it hurt?

    • September 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

      Thanks Tim. You’ve confirmed that I was seeing this through a very narrow lens (that of an entitled American craft beer drinker).

  10. Timothy McGinnis
    September 8, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    And even though I appreciate what Brewdog does for the market I have become a big fan of Lagunitas IPA and other American Craft Breweries for what they actually put out as a product. Unfortunately, I either have to fly back to the states or organise a pub crawl in London to find those American beers that I like. London can be very expensive for well traveled beers.

    • September 8, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

      You got that one right Tim!

  11. September 9, 2011 at 6:03 am #

    There are other craft beers I tend to prefer taste wise in the UK, but having actually just attended the Peterborough Beer Festival for the umpteenth time, I think it’s fair to say we need the likes of Brewdog – even my non-beer drinking friends have heard about them, and are more likely to sample them than one of the other small UK brands, which means we get more people encouraged to sample more beer in the future.

    There are some great pubs selling some amazing beers, but they’re definitely the exception rather than the rule, and given the state of the pub industry, the more we can encourage a bigger, wider and younger clientele, the more likely we all are to be able to find pubs actually doing a good job of serving interesting beer.

    The last time I drank regularly in the U.S was about 10 years ago, but even then it was seen as fairly cool and discering for young drinkers to be sampling craft beer in the Pacific NW – over here it’s still far rarer…

    • September 9, 2011 at 9:21 am #

      The crossover attention they are generating amongst mainstream beer drinkers can only be a good thing, that’s for sure.

  12. leithdave
    September 9, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    Interesting article. I can understand people being irritated by Brewdog’s marketing, but it’s helping bring great beer – not just Brewdog’s – to people who wouldn’t necessarily be attracted to craft beer. Ultimately, it’s all about the beer. And some of Brewdog’s beers – even their ‘core range’, not just the experimental brews – are excellent. It’s not just about marketing – that can only take you so far and Brewdog would have been very swiftly found out if they couldn’t back up the bravado with brilliant beer.

    • September 9, 2011 at 9:24 am #

      You’re right about that – if their every day products sucked, all the marketing stunts in the world wouldn’t matter.

      It plays a little differently in the U.S., as we have many, many alternatives to BrewDog that are as good (or better) and cost less than beer shipped in from overseas. To us, it looks like they are trying to break into a crowded American scene. But I’m realizing the reality is that they are trying to create one in the U.K. which is a good thing for beer geeks there for sure.

  13. September 10, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Well you should see how much some American craftbeers cost in the UK! Brewdog have done a lot of work with their bars to make US/other craft beers available to a wider audience, whereas before brewdog were on the scene you couldn’t find much outside of london other than bottles in a few specialist shops.
    Brewdog have managed to get their beers available to a mainstream audience by getting them into national supermarket chains, Tesco had just recently started stocking sierra nevada pale on the back of sales of beers like brewdog.
    I find the marketing and pseudo-irreverent vernacular amusing, but the beers are worth their salt and at £1.50 for a 330ml of a 6% beer great value for money considering they also have to import the hops that Americans are fotunate to have growing on their doorstep.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the response letter, Brewdog exists for the UK and European market, not for US extremophiles, though they produce beers that the latter can and do enjoy. And if you don’t, then you have plenty of breweries in your own country to keep you entertained.

  14. @clayrelwof
    March 23, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    I’m late to discussion but just had to say – I can’t believe what I just read… Would we thank a prostitute, brashly marketing her debatable-in-quality products, because the neighborhood now has increased access to police patrolmen? I’d think not.

    As such, increased access to craft beers is but a side effect to Brew Dog’s obnoxiousness, not an intended consequence. Why should they get a discount on criticism because of it?

    Another consequence, this one not so fortunate, is copy cats. Now we have to put up with “craft” brewerys like Ass Clown (yes, they actually named themselves that) in North Carolina taking up perfectly good tap space (at least in my favorite hangout)

    • March 23, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      Those Ass Clowns ruin EVERYTHING!!

      Good points, Clay. Thanks for sharing them (even as late as you did!).

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  1. A Letter to Brew Dog: You Win. | Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - September 8, 2011

    [...] Redditor Adds U.K. Perspective to BrewDog Sizzle vs. Steak Debate [...]

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