Brewdog have recently created the website Beerleaks . It is, in their own words, to expose the "insipid, fizzy liquid...masquerading as beer" and "the slaughterhouse of conformity" that is the modern beer industry.
These are testaments that in many way real ale/craft beer drinkers and advocates would agree with, though perhaps with less pseudo-revolutionary speak and a more nuanced insight into the beer industry's strangehold on Britain's beer.
As Britain's beer industry ploughs more money into marketing campaigns, such as Fullers and Charles Wells, will Brewdogs assertive (dare we say aggressive) campaign help them to stand out, heighten brand awareness and get more of their beer (and other craft beer) sold?
Previous ad campaings by Brewdog have readily included criticisms of the beer industry, from smashing mega brand bottles such as Stella, Becks and Carlsberg to the critiques of using isinglass, malt extracts and other dodgy adjuncts. This latest campagin, with its 1984-eqque 'Ministry of Mayhem' encouraging us to drink bland and flavourless beers, is a much more damning and aggressive of the beer industry as a whole. Most definitely following the trend of previous campaigns, its gung ho and bold. The question, though, is whether Brewdog's focus on overt and hostile PR campaigns will leave them Brew in the Face? (Really couldn't avoid the pun :-] )
It's a difficult question. Out of Britain's burgeoning craft beer scene, Brewdog are unquestionalby its most well known brand and 'advocate'. Known for their daring, deriding and damning ad campaigns and videos, they have a degree of promience and buzz that few other breweries can match. If you agree with their tactics or not, they are giving the beer industry a youthful kick up the arse that few others can contend with. Their media-savvy tactics and insights access people and drinkers that maybe other brewries can't reach.
Most importantly, though, Brewdog does make fantastic beer. I love Brewdog's beer. Recently launched Avery Brown Dredge was a fantastic; incredibly hoppy with a fantastic grape fruit flavour, lingering bitterness a devilishly deceiving drinkability. So good I got normal 'lager' drinkers to even have a couple of sips and enjoy it!
And with that observation, leads to a pressing question; Will this campaign get the average (young) drinker off the street to try some craft ale, or will they continue with their Carling/Carlsberg/Fosters/Stella etc? Will they even see this campaign? Is criticising your opponents (who are rather titanic compared to Brewdog) the best way to get your product noticed, bought and adored over others?
In many ways, Brewdog's video is preaching to the converted, so to speak. Assuming that this online campaign is targeting a demographic that DOESN'T drink real ale/craft beer, will any of them even see it? Firstly, it's not on Youtube. For all the jibes about lesser quality and adverts we may have to contend with on Youtube, Viemo simply can't access the market the way companies on Youtube can. As well as this, criticisng others instead of voicing your positives can sometimes be a risky move (think John Kerry v. George W. Bush), though Brewdogs video is obviously well made and gets it point across.
More and more craft breweries are opening, and the ones that are doing well seem to be doing so without the need to criticise the 'Big Four', at least in public. For all the criticism we may give Brewdog, however, they are criticisng an industry and its practices that at least on a basic level many of us in the blogosphere would probably be in agreement with. Perhaps it's only their methods we don't agree with, but how else are companies going to distract (younger) drinkers away from the 'Big Four' and spend their hard-earned cash on more expensive and daring brews?
What are your opinions? I'm still undecided.