Upcoming BBC Doc Reveals The Truth Behind BrewDog Controversary

BrewDog Brewery co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie are no strangers to hard work ... or to controversy. In fact, they depend on both to keep their unique brand of beers on par with their "punk"  approach to business as usual. Reporter Mark Daly explores how the Scotland-based brewery made a name for itself and the issues they have faced in an upcoming BBC documentary called "Disclosure: The Truth About Brewdog" (via BBC).

According to The Guardian, Dickie and Watt started their brewery in Fraserburgh, Scotland, in 2007 when they were just 24 years old. Although they struggled with finances initially, the two friends knew they could capitalize on the popularity of craft beer and refused to give up on their dream. They did everything from moving back in with their parents, to combining their life savings and taking out loans to keep the brewery afloat. The young brewers created their first beer, Punk IPA, with the hopes that it would be as controversial to the beverage market as punk rock was to the music world. They took an in-your-face approach to doing business by thumbing their noses at haters and describing BrewDog as a "post-punk, apocalyptic, motherf**ker of a craft brewery." Their supporters drank it up.

Still unable to meet demand financially, Watt and Dickie decided to crowdsource funding from fans of the brewery and implemented their "Equity For Punks" plan (via Forbes). They raised $975,000 from 1,330 investors in their first round of crowdsourcing and never looked back. Now, BrewDog has opened 30 pubs, employs 580 workers, and is valued at about $2 billion.

BrewDog's 'punk' approach has led to great success, as well as controversy

BrewDog's success, however, has been accompanied by a hefty share of criticism. The BBC documentary "Disclosure: The Truth About Brewdog" investigates the brewery's unique marketing stunts, finances, as well as allegations of a toxic workplace (via The Highland Times).

According to Brewbound, an anonymous letter penned by former BrewDog employees calling themselves "punks with a purpose" accused the brewery of creating a toxic work environment rife with sexual harassment, discrimination, and fear. James Watt addressed the concerns on Twitter and wrote, "Our focus now is not on contradicting or contesting the details of that letter but to listen, learn, and act."

Analysts have also been looking at the "Equity For Punks" program and wondering if investors will continue to pump money into the brewery if they stop seeing the same high returns (per Forbes). Throughout its short history, BrewDog has not backed down when faced with adversity and doesn't seem to have any plans to start now. 

To find out more, catch the documentary "Disclosure: The Truth About BrewDog" airing January 24 on BBC One Scotland.