BrewDog’s acquisition history

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

BrewDog background: there have been many acquisitions from the business since it started
BrewDog background: there have been many acquisitions from the business since it started

Related tags Multi-site pub operators Pubco + head office Property

The Morning Advertiser has taken a trip down memory lane to look at how BrewDog has become the global bar business it is today.

In 2007, co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie began making their own craft beers in Fraserburgh, Scotland, brewing small batches, filling bottles by hand and selling the brews in local markets.

Two years later, the business launched Equity for Punks – offering fans the chance to buy shares in BrewDog.

In 2010, the first BrewDog bar opens in Aberdeen​ – the hometown of co-founders Watt and Dickie. The following year saw new bars opening in Edinburgh, Glasgow​ and London​ where the duo drove down Camden high street in a BrewDog tank.

The year 2012 saw the company open six new sites, taking the total estate to 10 while it also moved from its Fraserburgh brewery to a state-of-the-art venue in Ellon, where it remains today.

Some 12 months later, the business launched its first bars outside the UK with the opening of its site in Stockholm, Sweden in the same year it doubled the size of its brewery.

Located in the city’s creative district, BrewDog Södermalm featured an outdoor seating area and it’s bar included 18 taps of craft beer ranging from BrewDog headliners to one-off small batches as well as half the lines being dedicated to showcase local and international breweries.

More than a dozen (14) bars opened their doors in 2014 alongside its DogTap at BrewDog headquarters.

The openings included a site in Helsinki, Finland​ which marked the firm’s 12th​ outlet in 2014 and a venue that Watt described at the time as “probably the most keenly anticipated bar we have launched so far. For years craft beer fans in the country have been crying out [for] us to set up a BrewDog home there.”

In 2015, the business opened 17 new bars. This included a new location in its home city of Aberdeen, Leicester and Leeds​ – the second in the West Yorkshire city – as well as York and Norwich​.

The group’s 33rdbar opening was in Brussels​, which was a listed building with a capacity of more than 200 as well as an outside area.

There are a multitude of beers on tap available alongside a selection of guest beers from small Belgian artisan brewers.

The launch of new bars in Malmö, Sweden and Warsaw, Poland​ was announced in May 2016.

Furthermore, in January 2017 BrewDog revealed it was closing a London site​ to concentrate on its other venues.

The BottleDog outlet in Gray’s Inn Road in Kings Cross was the brewer’s first bottle shop when it opened in April 2014.

Difficult decisions

At the time, the business said: “We took the really difficult decision to close the doors to BottleDog Kings Cross in order to focus our efforts on our combined bar and bottleshop sites.

“Although a popular site with plenty of BrewDog fans, dedicated bottle shop sites sit out with our core plan.

“Investments into our other locations will continue to increase the availability of awesome take-away beer in BrewDog bars.”

The following month (February) saw the opening of its first US pub​ at BrewDog’s brewery and headquarters in Canal Winchester, Ohio.

Estonia was one of the country’s the multiple operator opened a venue in​, which it stated was part of its “significant investment expansion” plans.

This followed its announcement at its annual general meeting where BrewDog revealed new locations across Europe including a flagship Paris site.

Meanwhile in March 2018, the multi-site firm announced it had acquired Draft House​, taking full ownership of the latter’s full 14-strong estate in a £15m deal.

BrewDog’s presence in London expanded in May 2018 with the opening of a new venue in Angel, Islington​, while the same year also saw sites opening at Edinburgh airport and Perth city centre​.

The company opened ‘the world’s first crowdfunded craft beer hotel’ the Doghouse in 2018 after 18 months in planning.

Another acquisition was revealed in April 2019 with the purchase of Stone Brewing’s brewery and taproom in Berlin​.

Manchester was the next city targeted by BrewDog with the opening of its second UK brewpub​.

BrewDog Outpost Manchester at the city’s Business School was the company’s 90th​ site worldwide.

Also in 2019, the Scottish operator unveiled BrewDog Kennels in Aberdeen. Based on the Doghouse concept, the mini0hotel apartments are above the group’s Castlegate bar.

Following the coronavirus pandemic and various lockdowns during 2020, BrewDog opened a site in November 2021 in Bradford​, which was followed by the opening of a venue in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire​ in December 2021. Both openings offered the first 100 guests the opportunity to win several prizes.

Also in 2021, Doghouse Manchester and Edinburgh opened doors with beer fridges in every shower and 24-hour hotdogs.

A few months later, the business also offered the first 100 guests who visited its Bristol bar, which opened in July 2022​, a chance to win a year’s supply of free beer.

Estate changes

Around the same time, the business unveiled plans to open its biggest ever venue at The Sidings in London Waterloo station​, which won Best New Site​ at the 2023 Publican Awards.

At 27,500sq ft, it was billed as an immersive craft beer destination, hosting duckpin bowling alleys, podcast studio, meeting rooms, a microbrewery and a GRIND café.

However, the following month (August), Watt revealed BrewDog closed six of its bars​ as a result of rocketing energy costs.

In a social media post, he said: “It was going to be simply impossible to get these bars even close to financial viability in the foreseeable future. We had no choice but to close them.”

Later in 2022, BrewDog opened its 96-tap carbon-negative venue on the Las Vegas strip​. The two floors of the site overlook the MGM New York-New York hotel.

More recently, January 2023 saw BrewDog’s estate grow again with a new London site in the capital’s Southside Shopping Centre in Wandsworth​.

Moreover, Watt outlined how the business was building plans to open 100 bars in India​ and believed it would become its most important international market.

Just last month (May), BrewDog highlighted it was set to roll out growth plans at airports and railway stations​ across the UK.

The business teamed up with food and beverage outlet operator SSP Group to bring the Scottish brand to various travel locations with London Gatwick to be the first outlet scheduled to open this December.

On its history and what the future holds, Watt said: “Over the past 16 years, we’ve always been willing to experiment, take risks and challenge the status quo and it has been a wild journey.

“We started as just two guys, a dog and a passion for making great beer and now we’re the 14th​ most valuable beer brand in the world, overtaking Carlsberg in the process. That’s a massive deal for us but we’re only just getting started.

“In the past 12 months, we have launched a host of new beers such as Black Heart, exciting brand partnerships, bar openings, hired more great crewmembers and seen fantastic growth in our international markets including US, India, Australia and across Asia.

“That’s before we even get to the openings of our two largest ever bars at London Waterloo and Las Vegas, which have both exceeded our expectations and offer a clear example of how we see our unique bar estate evolving over time.

“We’ve also reaffirmed our commitment to doing our bit for the planet, having planted hundreds of thousands of trees in the Lost Forest – one of the largest afforestation and peatland restoration projects the UK has ever seen.”

However, Watt highlighted the importance of the company’s team members has been to its success.

He added: “We were also recently named in the Sunday Times ​Best Places to Work 2023 and certified as a UK top employer by the Top Employers Institute, which really says so much about how far we have come as a business. Obviously, I have huge pride in both of these but I am far prouder of the amazing 3,000 people who make up our fantastic team and all the hard work they have put in to get us here.

“The road ahead is going to be exciting but it won’t be easy. Redefining an industry never is. We have big plans and bold bets for the next chapter in the BrewDog’s story, which are still under wraps. But what I can say is we will continue to push boundaries in brewing and make fantastic, beautifully crafted beer.

“But above all, the future is about our people.”

Now, with more than 100 sites across the globe and plenty in the pipeline, BrewDog looks set to continue its expansion both at home and overseas.

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