BrewDog IPA

overall rating:



Disha Takle
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BrewDog IPA calls itself the Punk IPA - a brand that frames itself as an indie brewery that goes against big corporations and breweries. They are Britain's leading craft brewers and approach their business differently. Funded and started by community initiatives and having an open-source approach to their business, BrewDog easily sets itself apart from its rivals. Last year, the company made some major changes in their community framework by incorporating sustainable measures. This was succeeded by a full sustainable rebrand. While this can be seen as good news, further investigation into its initiatives shows that this is yet another example of greenwashing and smart marketing.

What it's made of:


The main ingredients used by BrewDog for their products are water, malt, hops and yeast. Their website suggests that there are no additional chemicals or preservatives used in this beer which promises its great flavour and taste. BrewDog has about 5 breweries around the world in Britain, Australia, Ohio and Germany. Other than this surface-level information, there is no more information on where these materials are sourced from. Their reports do mention that they are focused on reducing their overall water and electricity use in the production and back these up with graphs suggesting successful cut-downs, but there is no explanation, sources or information which contextualises the graphics. Additionally, BrewDog's latest sustainability report underlines its switch from plastic packaging to more sustainable, recyclable cardboard packaging.

For these reasons, I give BrewDog 1 planet for their materials because they need to be more transparent about where they source their materials from and provide more context in their reports.

How it's made:


One of BrewDog's sustainability initiatives was to go carbon neutral through their tree-planting initiatives. Recently, the company purchased 2050 acres of Scottish Highlands for carbon restoration. This as well as their switch to wind energy and biomethane in their production in place of fossil fuel and electricity is applaudable measures that seem to be on track. However, we need more information on its implementation to actually determine how effective they have been.

The brand also claims radical transparency by publishing its recipes, annual costs and profits to the public. Once again, while this is a good step, BrewDog needs to provide more data to contextualise these figures to their sustainability initiatives. Similarly, the company's business model also reinvests 20% of the profits back into its employees and charities of their choice. They also have a rewards scheme called Planet Brewdog where consumers can earn points and do tasks to get discounts and free beer while offsetting carbon. Looking in-depth at their carbon offsetting scheme, it was evident that the company highlights and celebrates its efforts in Scope 1 and 2 (human activity and energy use), while completely ignoring Scope 3 (raw materials)- the largest contributor to their carbon emissions.

BrewDog's initiatives in restoring forests as well as their participation in carbon offsetting and reward programs encourage sustainable practices in their consumers and I look forward to seeing more information on the outcome and success of these initiatives.

Who makes it:


The company pays its employees a living wage, shares the profit and reinvests back into them. However, recent controversies sparked rumours about the 'toxic' work environment at BrewDog, where former workers launched an open letter to the CEO for 'overworking the workers' to the point where 'they were not treated like human beings. The company responded with an apology and a promise to do better and even appointed a Diversity executive, however not much has been said since. Otherwise, there are no other reports available on employee treatment, benefits and wages.

When you look at BrewDog and its whole rebranding tactic to become a more sustainable, independent brand you are met with hope and excitement about its loud declarations to 'save the planet', however on looking just a bit closer you are disappointed. This disappointment comes because when you compare the level of branding versus the actual deliverables, you see very little substance and not much to back it up. I think BrewDog's steps to include corporate sustainability goals in their business plan are great, however, most of their initiatives yield very little immediately.

On the whole, I give BrewDog 1.3 planets because they clearly need to do as much and a lot more than they are marketing themselves to be. What BrewDog can do to actually deliver on their promises of transparency and sustainability is provide evidence of their initiatives, reports of their production processes and incorporate some short-run initiatives like a can-recycling scheme, while investing in research of low energy and water brewing techniques.