Dec 252015

Aberdeen sees a second BrewDog bar open, and long-time devotee, beer lover Suzanne Kelly is there to report; photos by Julie Thompson.

The old Athenaeum is the newest BrewDog bar. We shareholders were asked what we wanted for the Aberdeen bar, and we got it.

brewdog castlegate opening nov 15Shareholders such as me were invited for the opening festivities; old familiar faces and newer shareholders mingled in the large space which still had the distinctive BrewDog feel to it.

For me, jostling my way through the crowds and entering the Bottle Shop was the highpoint of the night.

The walls from floor to ceiling are filled with some of the world’s greatest craft beers, and veritably all of Scotland’s finest brews. Some are in chiller cabinets; most are on shelves, interspersed with books, notebooks, badges and other goodies.

The book of the moment is founder James Watt’s bestselling book, ‘Business for Punks’.  I’ve got one, but have been too busy to read it yet. It’s my Christmas reading, or so I intend.

james makes a toast at brewdog castlegate nov 15James was on hand to welcome us all with a speech and a toast. The crowd fell silent when he spoke of being passionate about fantastic beer:

“As equity punks, you guys have done this. Thanks!!”

This to the Brewdog shareholders, now about 11,000 strong, give or take.

Someone else yells “F*** yeah!” Watt also talks about the music and live entertainment there will be in the basement: Underdog is lining up a variety of acts.  He continues

“Our AGM will be on the 9th of April and again it’s going to be in Aberdeen. This is Hinterland,  our 10% chocolate coffee imperial stout. Tthanks for coming to the opening, thanks for being equity punks and God Bless America.”

 We all drink the chocolatey rich beer we’ve been given and then applaud. Then it’s back to the important business of drinking.

Early on, I’m talking to Nathan who only recently started working with BrewDog; he’s had a week and a half of training.

I said “this is absolute madness,” and he said “yes, but  it’s beer madness and that’s the best kind of madness there is.”

He said this is the best job he’s ever had, with the nicest people he’s worked with, and he’s very happy.

Chris is the manager of the new bar; it’s now three months that he’s been with the company. He stresses how passionate he is about beer.

“We are really happy, so nice to see the building full of our equity punk shareholders. Beer is absolutely my passion, we’re evangelical about it.”

Later during the evening James tells me:

“Yeah, it’s amazing we opened our first Aberdeen site 5 years ago. Since then we opened 44 other sites around the planet.  It’s amazing to be back in Aberdeen. So many people in Aberdeen asked us for a bigger bar, a bottle shop, more food. So we listened and we’ve hopefully given the people what they want. We have so many equity punks in Aberdeen as well, and they’ve been the heart and soul of our business. Great to have so many equity punks come out; it’s a special night.”

I’ll give him that. Cheers. I didn’t know this yet, but BD was soon to do its open letter to Donald Trump. Let’s just say that cheered me no end. That, and a menu filled with things like Bavarian pretzels, oreo cookie shakes with beer, vegetarian hotdogs, and a bottle shop that makes me want to go back soon.

Jul 052013

BrewDog’s annual general meeting on Saturday 22 June in the AECC came on the heels of a new share offering, impressive financials, and yet more awards; Aberdeen Voice contributor and card-carrying BrewDog shareholder Suzanne Kelly and Voice photographer Julie Thompson were on the spot.

A very sombre AGM was held in north Aberdeen fairly recently. The men at the helm of the business in question visibly squirmed as they addressed a small number of unmoved shareholders about their 2012 failures and shattered plans. In a speech peppered with jargon, the board spoke of ‘customer-facing businesses’ and so on, knowing they had turned in yet another poor year’s performance.

Following the gloomy AGM, the press called the business ‘down in the dumps.’  The controversial management continues to ignore calls for its resignation, despite a catalogue of failures, and investors have little to look forward to in the foreseeable future.

Thankfully, I’m not an Aberdeen Football Club shareholder.

No, I attended my second BrewDog AGM at the AECC, which was more like a party with a few hours devoted to business matters, and very successful business matters at that.  What a swell party (well, AGM) it was:

There is nothing like a BrewDog AGM, yet six years ago, you would have found BrewDog’s founders James Watt and Martin Dickie flogging small quantities of their beer at the Aberdeen Farmer’s market on Belmont Street.  Times have changed.

Hundreds of fellow shareholders from across the world (Belgium, France, Germany, Singapore) converged on the AECC to celebrate all things BrewDog.  Representing all ages, sexes shapes and sizes, BrewDog shareholders and their guests settled down to the serious business of drinking beer, talking beer, thinking beer and of course tasting beer.

The attendees also enjoyed great bands, great food, a wide range of discounted merchandise and beer, and they found time to address a little bit of financial business, too.

BrewDog’s AGM mirrors the company in many ways.  Both are growing bigger and better every year.  Both put a high premium on engaging with the public, and do so with a huge degree of success which professional PR moguls only wish they could bottle and sell.

In terms of bottling and selling, BrewDog is now Britain’s fastest-growing food and drink brand.  Not bad.  The company are serious about beer and the business of beer, and here are some facts and figures which show how that seriousness is made manifest:-

BrewDog has achieved an average annual growth of 167 per cent over the past five years and the company is valued at over three times the value it was given during the last Equity for Punks scheme in 2011.

The company made 42,000 shares available to anyone to buy at £95 each, ignoring traditional methods of funding to support its continued rapid growth. The brewery plans to use the funds raised to further expand its new brewery, its burgeoning bar division and a new series of bottle shops across the UK.

  • BrewDog now hires 187 staff and is on track to turnover £20m in 2013.
  • BrewDog’s biggest success in the past year has been the growth of its bar division, opening 12 bars since 2010 – largely funded by Equity for Punks investment – including its first international location in Stockholm, Sweden.

There is much to look forward to; the team have been taping a programme in America.  They’ve won yet more awards for business performance; they plan more expansion and a visitors’ shop.

Seeing as how they sold £1 million worth of shares of the new offering in 24 hours, another bumper year is

Can world domination be far off?

Looking at how this company started, how it deals with its staff, investors and the beer-drinking public, I wouldn’t be surprised.  This is the space to watch.

I’m not telling anyone to invest in anything; I’m just proud to be part of a local success story that’s employing people and reintroducing the world to chemical-free, innovative, tasty beer.  And why not?

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