Wednesday, 11 November 2009

New York, New York - If BrewDog Can Make It There..?

A lot has been written about BrewDog over the past few days and weeks. The equityforpunks announcement and then the revelation (press release?) that they themselves made a complaint to The Portman Group about Tokyo* has garnered them a lot of attention, mostly unfriendly.

Another big day looms up today. New York City beer bar, the Blind Tiger, is hosting a BrewDog night. This extract from co-owner Alan Jestice's email, sets the scene...

Now we have all heard the hype but it is time to walk the walk with Brew Dog. This cutting edge Scottish brewery is a true member of the craft beer movement. We are lucky enough at the Tiger to have a handful of their kegs (and casks), to let you all join in this Scottish revolution.

Join us this Wednesday Nov. 11th at 4:00PM, as we host Brew Dog at the Blind Tiger.


The brewer also featured at the recent third anniversary weekend at Hamilton's Tavern in San Diego, with casks of Hardcore and Smokehead, and the 'other' keg of Tokyo* (renamed 'Tokio' for the US) on offer.

James Watt recently gave an interview to US-based beer website thefullpint.com. Apart from the comments about the UK craft scene and CAMRA (presumably offered for less well-informed US consumer digestion), he is quite candid in responding to questioning about prices and quality of BrewDog beers in the US. So, my question is this. Is this a relaunch of the brand to recover ground lost due to high price and poor beer? Or part of a business plan to launch draft BrewDog and get on the fonts of influential beer outlets across the 25 states their beer is available?

A look around beer rating websites suggests the former and indicates the extent of the problem with price and quality. The $30-35 price point for Atlantic IPA, though extreme, is mocked, while $12-14 for Punk wasn't uncommon. Meanwhile, many craft beer lovers appear from anecdotal evidence to be gunshy of the brand after paying over the odds one too many times for beer in deteriorated or less-than-ideal condition. It's a price-sensitive market and they question why they should pay for the label if they can drink better from local brewers.

A glance at the equityforpunks prospectus shows the importance of this market to BrewDog in terms of sales, with about a fifth to a quarter of their business coming from here, and with their professed ethos and inspiration tying them so closely to the US craft beer scene, I wonder if, as Alan Jestice remarks, their beer will indeed "walk the walk". Or, will the brand sink beneath the gaze of smart and savvy craft beer lovers who can pick and choose from a remarkable choice of American-made brew?

My spies on the ground will hopefully have some feedback in the next day or so...

1 comment:

Rabidbarfly said...

Good piece Sid, ve shall see.