Ask most people to name a Scottish brewery, and you’re likely to be met with a long, awkward silence. While certainly as proficient as the English when it comes to consuming beer, the Scots haven’t made as big of a splash on the world beer scene as their neighbors to the south, instead staking their boozy rep on peaty whiskeys. Beyond the likes of Belhaven and Innis & Gunn, you simply don’t hear that much about Scottish brewing.
BrewDog is on a mission to change that, and they are not asking for attention—they’re demanding it. Since launching their brand in 2007, buddies James Watt and Martin Dickie have established a reputation one of the most progressive—and, more to the point, provocative—breweries in the world. They’ve set records for making the most alcoholic beer ever, selling the most recent installment in real taxidermied roadkill. They’ve made an ale laced with Viagra to celebrate Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding. And they’ve publicly exposed booze giant Diageo for shady dealings.
Shaking up the status quo—in this case, “industrially brewed lagers and stuffy ales”—is one of BrewDog’s specialties, and there are times when grabbing headlines seems to be their raison d’etre. But behind all the hijinks and guerilla-marketing gimmicks is a deep and faithful passion for great beer. So while it might be the 32%-ABV Tactical Nuclear Penguin that gets your attention, it’s the stellar flagship beers like Punk IPA—a near-perfect mashup of biscuity British malts and American hops—that will make you a lifelong fan.
Ultimately, it’s this combination of middle-finger-to-the-sky pot stirring and great beer that has made BrewDog more than just a brewery—it’s a movement, with a clear mission and a rabid fan base. The proof is in the pudding: Since initiating Equity for Punks in 2009—a progressive plan to sell shares of the company online, directly to fans—BrewDog has more than 6,500 beer-loving investors and has reliably been Britain’s fastest-growing brewery year to year.
So, what is the method to all the madness? Here, James Watt (@BrewDogJames) takes us through the eight beers that have defined BrewDog’s frequently delicious—and always entertaining—evolution.