Open Letter to BrewDog from Punks With Purpose

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Jun 10, 2021.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,244) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    ICYMI: Yesterday, Dave Infante tweeted that: "61 former BrewDog workers published an open letter accusing the firm of hypocrisy, exploitation, and toxicity." Follow his Twitter thread and @PunksWithPurpose for updates, and I'll drop some highlights here.

    Open Letter to BrewDog from Punks With Purpose:
    A response from James Watt, CEO & Co-Founder of BrewDog, to the company's shareholder forum:


    Tweet from @BrewDogJames:

    Tweet from @PunksWPurpose:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


  2. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (474) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    I hate to see these guys get press. Any press.
    The longest entry in their Wikipedia page is "Controversies". Being a dickhead is apparantly good for business, and they certainly are obliging. Brewdog is the precise opposite of Beer Advocacy.

    "We have not always got things right and we are happy to admit it when that is the case".

    Just one guys opinion but holy crap this company really dominates the brewery Bro culture.
    KRug, IceAce, EmperorBevis and 12 others like this.
  3. DCH

    DCH Aspirant (220) Jun 12, 2013 New York

    I don’t think that I’ve had any of their beers nor do I plan to in the future - it always just seemed like one overpriced gimmick after another. The show that they had a while back was pretty funny sometimes though.
  4. RenoZymurgist

    RenoZymurgist Devotee (487) May 4, 2003 California

    I only needed to read the first word of the response to determine that brewdog didn’t/doesn’t care about the people who make their products possible. It wouldn’t be much of a wow moment if they had done exit interviews correctly, gotten rid of bullish/toxic management, or compared their employee turn over to other breweries of a similar size. But as long as they claim ignorance they can be forgiven by the public and can then fire a few mid managers to make a show of change and then get right back to grinding their blue collar people into dust. They won’t fire their profit drivers and those are the people who are likely the heart of the problem.
    KRug and MrOH like this.
  5. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,675) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming

    I always thought that they were squirrely.
  6. JamFuel

    JamFuel Poo-Bah (6,766) Mar 26, 2009 Sweden
    Moderator Society

    Just one more reason to not give Brewdog any of my money.
  7. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,419) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    I forget they exist until one of these stories pops up. Can't recall having any of their beers in a decade, don't think I've seen them on shelves in years, and have always thought they were overpriced gimmicks.

    That whole Equity for Punks thing was a laugh, too. If they were punks, they'd turn the brewery into a commune and only brew enough to support themselves.
  8. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,471) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    So, the guy is saying one thing in public, while doing exactly the opposite behind the scenes?

    Good on the people who organized the original letter, and good on the current shareholders and employees who leaked the internal documents.
    cavedave likes this.
  9. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,026) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Nice words from James, but only a fool believes that after tons and tons of bullshit comes out of a bull's ass suddenly something else will emerge.
  10. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Champion (800) Dec 12, 2014 Chile

    Are their beers even good? I'm seriously asking, all I've had from them has been meh/OK
  11. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,126) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I have never had one of their products. I have known a number of these grandstanding types through the years and they have almost always have outsmarted themselves and let the truth shine through. It isn't instant karma it's a slow-rolling erosion of the artifice fully exposing the lack of real substance.
    JamFuel and Bitterbill like this.
  12. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,244) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    Punks With Purpose: Our Response to James Watt’s Apology

    Dear James,

    First off, thank you for your most recent statement, in which you apologised and broadly laid out what you intend to do in response to our letter, which now has over two hundred and fifty signatures including some current, anonymous staff members (we’re working through adding them to the letter). Contrary to what some people are suggesting, it is not our aim to destroy BrewDog – many of us still have friends working for you, and we have no intentions of impacting on their livelihoods. It is our aim to instigate serious and lasting change at BrewDog, in whatever way that needs to be achieved – but absolutely not at the expense of your employees.

    We are glad to see that you found our comments hard to read, because they were indeed hard to write – but please realise that they alluded to merely a fraction of the stories we have shared together as a group, during the process of helping the worst-affected of us to move on, mentally. Many of the things that ground us down at BrewDog will never be proved, because they happened in person, and thus we felt we had to remain vague – citing specific examples could expose people to repercussions. We have already had other former members of staff sharing further examples of bad practice with us, in the hope we can bring their stories to light. It’s not our intention to share more stories at this moment, but make no mistake – we hear these people, we believe and support them, and if the right circumstances arise, we will help amplify their voices too.

    We would also like to address the statement made yesterday, in which you said:

    “It is fair to say that this type of fast paced and intense environment is definitely not for everyone, but many of our fantastic long term team members have thrived in our culture. Our culture is built on rewarding and developing great people and focussing on growing our business.”

    While we accept that you admitted you should have given it more consideration, we want you to know that we categorically refute everything suggested in this statement. Many of our signatories worked for BrewDog for years, and were extremely high-performing. To suggest that those who apparently couldn’t hack it are somehow less worthy in your eyes is grotesque; we believe this shows your true feelings of disregard for your staff, both former and current.

    We are not going away. We want to see the evidence of the change you have publicly committed to. Many of us worked for you long enough to have heard you apologise and promise change several times already, so you’ll have to forgive us if we seem skeptical.

    Perhaps a useful first step would be to stop writing fiction on LinkedIn about sitting on the same orange Ikea chair for fourteen years.


    Former BrewDog staff.

    meefmoff, Roguer, Bitterbill and 3 others like this.
  13. William_Navidson

    William_Navidson Aspirant (250) May 1, 2015 Pennsylvania

    I shouldn't be as surprised as I am, admittedly, but wow -- wild how much better-spoken, thorough, and considered the organized employees are than management. Either (1) the attorneys drafting these BrewDog responses are entirely concerned with legal liability and not PR, or (2) the PR team sucks, or (3) ownership isn't taking either into consideration... I think (3) is most likely.

    (Also: I'm aware that these issues pale in comparison to the substantive issues being raised, just thought it was interesting)
  14. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (4,077) Oct 14, 2009 California
    Society Trader

    There’s nothing punk about brewdog. The employees, on the other hand…
    IceAce, EmperorBevis and MrOH like this.
  15. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (474) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Who the hell runs PR at this zoo?
    When responding to criticism maybe using the term but is ill advised. It's almost as if the owners are not quite accepting of the criticism. Which we know can't be true, because they earlier stated that they are happy to admit when they have not got things right.

    Also, 250 signatures.

    So, case closed.
    meefmoff, MrOH, o29 and 3 others like this.
  16. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,978) Mar 25, 2013 Connecticut
    Moderator Society Trader

    Wow. WOW.

    In fairness, there are two sides to every story ... but that doesn’t mean they warrant equal merit or consideration.

    When it’s this many people willing to put their name to it (and I believe them that there are more choosing to remain anonymous for their own reasons), and it matches the fairly consistent public opinion of not just industry insiders, but even consumers and customers ...

    ... well, it goes a little beyond “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” At this point, it sounds a whole lot like “BrewDog’s admitting there’s a fire, but claim it’s just to make s’mores, and they’re sorry if some people burned their fingers.”
  17. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (861) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I have never had a good feel for these guys. They come across as entitled A-holes in most things I’ve read. Remember the AF non alcohol beer and who did the design work. I have had a beer from them in a mix a six almost two years to the day. It looked like a full 12oz can but had less than 10oz of fluid. The beer was average at best. I have no other beers checked in from them. The whole “begging” for money to open a brewery and hotel in kick starter type schemes I really hate. Raise money as a company. Don't ask me to give you money.

    Who is telling the truth here? I can’t be sure but I’m pretty sure it’s not management.

    As a kid who grew up a punk rocker I can say BD is no punk. A poser for sure, I’m not impressed.

    KRug and MrOH like this.
  18. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,834) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    I'm always surprised these dudes are still around. Haven't seen their beers for years.
    MrOH likes this.
  19. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (652) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I found the PR event lies/hypocrisy accusations interesting, but even more interesting to me was Brewdog's response did not try to refute any, except for the "Pawternity" employee perk. Most seemed like clear accusations that could have been refuted or at least denied more easily than the mostly ambiguous complaints about poor culture and employee working conditions. I understand the complaint is mainly about poor working conditions and Brewdog was responding that, but if I could easily refute some minor complaints (low-hanging fruit) I would to strengthen my defense of the bigger issue.
    rgordon and Roguer like this.
  20. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,244) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    Reply from BrewDog Co-Founder Martin Dickie on LinkedIn:

    Since being fascinated when visiting a distillery in 1991 (aged 9) I knew I wanted to work in the beer industry. In 2007 I was able to make this a reality starting BrewDog. A brewery that was focused on making incredible beer and changing the industry into a more inclusive, safe and equitable place. Our company has been built on having huge ambition and working with an incredible group of people to work out how to become the leading craft brewer in Europe. Our values are simple – Beer, People and Planet. The team work tirelessly to provide great beer, incredible bar experiences and also minimising our impact on the planet.

    We want to be the most sustainable drinks producer on the planet.

    In the last week it has been brought to light that some people who used to work with us feel they have been badly treated.

    I would like to wholeheartedly apologise to every single person who has put their name on that list. And also I would like apologise to anyone else who has also felt wrongly treated in anyway by me or anyone in our team in the past.

    As the person whose idea it was to set up a brewery in the first place and as a director and shareholder and co-founder I feel that the responsibility sits with me.

    Going forward:-

    I want to engage with any former employee who will be willing to talk, to understand their story and how we can learn and be better, fairer employers going forward and make sure we are living up to the high standards we set ourselves.

    I want to engage with any current employee to who feels that we are not currently living up to the high standards we set ourselves, and what we can also do to be better employers.

    I would like to engage with any industry body / group who are keen to make sure the industry as a whole is pushing for the same ideals of inclusion, equity and safety that we hold so dear.

    Roguer likes this.
  21. ichorNet

    ichorNet Poo-Bah (2,016) Mar 16, 2010 Massachusetts

    Oh okay, guess all is forgiven now. :rolling_eyes:
  22. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,978) Mar 25, 2013 Connecticut
    Moderator Society Trader

    A straight forward, “whole hearted” apology. He doesn’t try to refute the claims. This is what people typically ask for - and rarely receive. It’s also a big contrast from the other BD responses.

    That said, I find it questionable that he’s only now hearing about this - that it’s only now being brought to light, as though these employees never filed complaints before.

    More likely, they weren’t taken seriously, and now that it’s very public, it’s much harder to ignore.
    rgordon, MrOH, o29 and 1 other person like this.
  23. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,126) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    This type of press will truly hurt their bottom line. And to me that is what they deserve. I have already wasted too much time even thinking about these odd ball brew nuts.
    We're off to dinner to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Brew Dog matters not, ya'll!
  24. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aspirant (252) Aug 24, 2020 California

    I know nothing about Brewdog beers. I know none of the people there and I have never read anything before now about them. To me, a key indicator will be how many current employees sign the rebuttal letter to the Punks w/ Purpose accusations. If a significant percentage of the employees stand by the management rebuttal and sign it, that means something totally different from having only a handful sign it. Everyone takes away their own perceptions of an experience. The Punks w/ Purpose apparently had bad experiences. That doesn't mean it was the dominant or most common experience. It means they are vocal about it. I want to know what current employees think. "Some" refusing to sign means little. What about the majority?
    Roguer likes this.
  25. William_Navidson

    William_Navidson Aspirant (250) May 1, 2015 Pennsylvania

    Can I respectfully ask why the majority opinion there is so important to you, in this case?... I can see why you think it might impact the complaints about "general culture," but there are far more specific claims that are also out there against them.

    If an entity treats 2 employees terribly and 8 employees nicely, are you cool with them if the 8 employees then have the company's back?... that perspective doesn't make much sense to me, so maybe I'm missing something.
    Roguer and cavedave like this.
  26. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,026) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Yes, you certainly are missing something and I think I know what that something is. We need to be reminded of those people who weren't mistreated. It's all well and good to try and focus on victims, but what about people who aren't victims? They matter too! They deserve to be considered in all this too! And a discussion about victims and solving the problems that lead to victimization is the perfect time to discuss people who aren't victims.

    Yes, sarcasm. I'm as baffled as you.
    billandsuz likes this.
  27. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aspirant (252) Aug 24, 2020 California

    yes, you are missing something, and no, this is not sarcasm. Let's take it to extremes and pretend that nearly 100% of current employees cry "BS" on the accusations and support management. Then you would have to look at the accusers for some commonality that represents a unique subset of the total employee population. For example, were they some consistent gender/race/age/ political persuasion that is different from existing employees or were they entirely representative of current employee demographics? If they were entirely consistent with current employee demographics then we conclude they were apparently "abused" for some other reason (personality conflict?) or they are just hypersensitive. Let's not pretend that people who look for reasons to be offended don't exist. If the accusers represent some subset of demographics not represented in those supporting management then they have a stronger case. What percentage of total employee base can be satisfied before you believe maybe it is an employee issue rather than a management issue?
    InspectorHammer and Roguer like this.
  28. William_Navidson

    William_Navidson Aspirant (250) May 1, 2015 Pennsylvania

    This perspective might make sense to me if we were strictly wondering about a hostile environment claim, if you don’t mind me using legalese... but we aren’t. We’re talking about specific accusations in which one’s identity isn’t significant.
    cavedave likes this.
  29. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aspirant (252) Aug 24, 2020 California

    sorry but I don't automatically give credibility to accusers. It matters hugely to me how many others support or refute it. If you feel differently then that's ok but I won't debate the validity of opinions.
    rodbeermunch likes this.
  30. William_Navidson

    William_Navidson Aspirant (250) May 1, 2015 Pennsylvania

    That’s fine, I’m not asking you to.

    However, this perspective doesn’t really address the situation I gave you in which two employees are substantively and objectively mistreated in serious ways, does it?... are they just shit out of luck in your eyes because they aren’t in the majority?
    cavedave likes this.
  31. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aspirant (252) Aug 24, 2020 California

    this my final public post on this. if you want to continue, then PM me. IMO if someone whose demographics match the remaining happy employees claims mistreatment, then the obvious question is why the others were not mistreated. There is no obvious reason to trust the claims of mistreatment any more than the claims of innocence. I have been working enough decades in enough companies to know that some employees will never be happy and love to blame anyone else for anything. No they are not S.O.L. The state governments have adequate means for past employees to formally address claimed mistreatment instead of resorting to public tweets etc.
    AMessenger and HopHunterCL like this.
  32. stairway2heavn

    stairway2heavn Initiate (112) Aug 17, 2017 New Jersey

    Some people defer to the powerful I guess.
    I've had some solid brew dog while in Europe. I won't be seeking it out anytime soon. Sure, court of public opinion etc, but there's a saying about smoke and fire with all these recent stories in the brewing world.
    Roguer and cavedave like this.
  33. Sheppard

    Sheppard Poo-Bah (1,824) Mar 16, 2013 Virginia
    Society Trader

    If you've been following Brewdog at all, you'd know that this (them being shitty) isn't a new development. Honestly, the only time they pop up in the news for me is something negative, like them ripping off marketing from potential hires and not compensating them. The smoke and fire has been around them for years is what I'm saying. I would say people's willingness to hold them accountable is higher now though.

    I've never had/bought a Brewdog beer and it seems like every day I am further from having one.
  34. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,801) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Seriously. I'm honestly beginning to suspect that they are some sort of grand meta-satirical piece of art. A fun house mirror, if you will, that accentuates the worst aspects of modern beer, business, marketing, and general culture.
  35. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (3,732) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    BrewDog a bunch of cu..., I mean pricks, film at eleven.
    KRug, Bitterbill and EmperorBevis like this.
  36. eagles22

    eagles22 Devotee (416) Sep 7, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Dickheads that brew shitty beer
    marquis, Bitterbill and EmperorBevis like this.
  37. EmperorBevis

    EmperorBevis Poo-Bah (7,434) Sep 25, 2011 England
    Moderator Society Trader

    I admit I have changed my mind a couple of times about Brewdog & perhaps it was with them having such a big network, connections & impact that I was so hoping they would “straighten & fly right” because they would have the ability to be such a positive influence in the beer industry and community.

    They had opposed the SBDR group & I had softened to them but to be honest, even with them starting off this side of the Atlantic & with so md many beers of there’s for sale within walking distance of me sitting at home with their original location 370 miles away, they always seemed not on my radar.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I am a complete no one, it’s not a bad reflection that Brewdog never engaged with me on social media, wether I was being positive or negative.

    Another brewery likewise that I have tried to converse with on a very basic level unsuccessful is
    .…Cloudwater whose core range beers are now contract brewed by … Brewdog

    Cloudwater gave already lost some fans due to that deal to provide beers en masse to supermarket giant Tesco, it will be interesting if this has any further impact on them.
    rgordon and Bitterbill like this.
  38. EmperorBevis

    EmperorBevis Poo-Bah (7,434) Sep 25, 2011 England
    Moderator Society Trader

    Have been talking to some people here in Manchester higher up the beer food chain from me & noted Paul Jones was asked how it will effect his brewery Cloudwater by a beer journalist and said “it wasn't a good thing for them to stop working with BrewDog as the work getting the minority breweries into Tesco was more valuable.” But I now looking for a direct quote for the thread.

    The Brewdog deal involved getting a fourpack of beers from Queer brewing & three micros owned by ethnic minorities onto the supermarket giant’s shelves.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  39. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Savant (953) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    Can’t wait for their next crowd sourced project: “Legal Defense for Punks.”
  40. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (3,732) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    Seriously? You gotta be fucking shitting me... :grimacing: