Relationships are tricky at the best of times. In the early days it’s all fun and fresh and exciting, and you can’t wait to extol the virtues of this new love. Then, the honeymoon period ends and before you know it you’re ten years down the line, wake up in the morning and think when will this tedious fucker just die. I’m about there with Brewdog. To the left, to the left, everything you own the trademark for’s in a box to the left.
I’ll admit to being quite excited when Brewdog Liverpool opened back in 2014. It was the subject of one of my very first posts in fact. (Yes, I have been doing this that long, and no, it isn’t paying off yet). I don’t really go there out of choice anymore. In fact I only ever go to Brewdog with my beer wife Karen, who is an Equity For Punks shareholder. The fact is, there is always somewhere better to go. Yes Brewdog was part of the craft beer revolution, perhaps they even had a hand in starting it. Unfortunately, they never moved on.
Do we really need Brewdog? Their latest promotional campaign went down like Carling at Indyman. An utterly cringeworthy attempt to shock by linking their brand to a .porn domain which was surely dreamt up by some 19 year old on an unpaid internship who found some vintage copies of Loaded in the office and thought “Maybe this is what old men like?” The backlash was immediate, but it wasn’t anger, it was embarrassment. Why? Why did you do this? What did you think would happen? Are you ok? Do I need to call someone? Brand engagement should not consist of someone peeking through their fingers at the garbage fire and slowly backing away in case they’re infected by the sheer moldiness of it.
Brewdog are not cool anymore. They’re embarrassing, old fashioned, and increasingly irrelevant. Do they make the best beer in the country? Not by a long shot. Are their bars more fun than anywhere else? Not really. Would it be cool to be seen in a Brewdog tshirt? Fuck, no. Do they curate their beer lists better than anywhere else? That’ll be a fourth no. There is a tap room in Runcorn, In RUNCORN, which does what Brewdog does – serves food, serves cask and keg, regularly changes the beer list, stocks local beer, has theme nights. It does it better than Brewdog. Because it’s authentic, it’s real, it’s honest. Anyone reading this who is a beer lover probably knows somewhere just like the Society Tap Room, and I’ll bet that it also does what Brewdog does, but better.
The reaction from the beer writing community to their porn stunt seemed to be split between condemnation and intervention. Some frothed and snapped, others genuinely tried to point out where they had gone wrong. My first reaction was “I don’t care enough to try and fix them.” They don’t listen, they’re not interested in consumer feedback. They are beyond help. They have 99 likes on their facebook post about the beer porn nonsense. 99 likes for their ‘major overhaul and ground breaking network’. People are beginning to notice that the Emperor’s balls are on display, but he’s just waving them about and shouting “PUNK!”
There was once a time when Brewdog were relevant and exciting, they could even get back there with a massive overhaul of their personality. But for every slightly interesting thing they do with beer, there are another five hundred cock-ups which make everyone groan, whether it’s ‘beer for girls’ or a complete car crash of a televised recruitment drive. When they trend on twitter, your first thought is not ‘I wonder what innovative beer-related story this will be’, but ‘what are these clowns up to now?’
When the former object of your affection becomes boring and set in their ways, you have two choices, try to get them to change, or just walk away.
To the left, to the left…