Around 6000 Equity Punks attended the AECC on Saturday 6th June 2015 to attend the #PunkAGM2015. There had been quite a build up to this year’s event with a lot of chatter and anticipation seen across the various social networks, perhaps with an increased awareness of the event following the release of Equity for Punks IV earlier this year.
It was great to see the excitement build across Twitter, Instagram & Facebook with people arranging to meet up for the AGM to crystallise relationships created and cultivated online over many months or years; for me, it was a chance to meet some people with whom I have had some great discussions online over the past couple of years. The AGM really does bring together a large part of the growing craft beer community, and as an Aberdonian I think it is fantastic that it all happens on my doorstep!
The 2015 BrewDog AGM, quite appropriately labelled as “Annual General Mayhem”, was my second experience of the BrewDog style of doing business. I attended the 2014 AGM last year but I have to say that this year was bigger and better and was quite a day to remember. The feedback from last year had been taken on board and there were more bars (6 in total) all serving a variety of BrewDog beers, some of which were quite exclusive and not too easy to get hold of, and some of the best beers on offer from the guest breweries. The food selection was also really good and many of the choices complemented the beers perfectly.
| Business Update |
James Watt & Martin Dickie have a very specific style of presenting, and they appear to be very relaxed speaking about their growing business. The presentation was a mix of good news about BrewDog’s financial and production performance, news about soon to be released beers, promoting the pair’s US TV show BrewDogs and of course Equity for Punks IV.
Some of the high points from the presentation for me include:-
- The forthcoming collaboration beers between BrewDog & Beavertown and BrewDog & Ballast Point
- Aberdeen II – the 2nd Aberdeen bar at a great location and a bigger site.
- Brewery expansion plans, including the sour beer brew kit and the spirit distillery.
- The US brewery.
- Death or Glory – an ultra mega limited release beer to be given exclusively to those Equity Punks with the highest number of referrals of new EFPIV investors.
There were of course a couple of quick business points to be voted upon for the articles of association to be changed……………but hey, if holding your hand up for a few seconds to make a business decision gets things done then that’s the kind of business I like!
As soon as the ‘state of the nation’ address was over, I was off to my first tasting with the guest breweries.
| Guest Breweries |
The guest breweries this year were all fantastic, being CAP, Brew by Numbers, Mikkeller, Beavertown & Ballast Point, with each one hosting specific tasting sessions of some of their finest beers throughout the day. The tastings were supposed to be limited to 1 per person in order to try and manage demand, but I have to confess I could not pass up the opportunity to attend tastings by both Beavertown and Ballast Point (sorry Mikkeller, I did quite fancy your tasting too, but I thought a 3rd tasting would be pushing my luck!)
Ballast Point Tasting
This tasting was presented by Yuseff Cherney, the COO/Head Brewer/Co-founding Distiller at Ballast Point. Yuseff’s knowledge and passion for what he does was clear to see and he spoke well about the development of the brewery and what has become one of their signature beers, the Sculpin IPA. This was the first beer offered at the tasting and it is probably one of the finest IPAs I’ve tasted; quite hoppy, but the hops are complemented and then exceeded by the fruit flavours. A very easy to drink beer, with a light/medium body and loads of flavour.
The second beer offered was Victory at Sea, a limited imperial porter, and this beer just blew me away. It was like drinking a smooth, alcoholic, mocha ice cream and it was far and away the best porter I have tasted (a crown previously held by U-Boat, the collab smoked porter by BrewDog and Victory Brewing Co). This beer tasted so good, I pretty much immediately went and ordered 8 bottles of it from the online bottleshop in the main hall of the AGM! If you are a fan of porters & stouts, and you can get your hands on it, I recommend you taste this beer as soon as possible.
Beavertown have been one of my favourite breweries since I tasted their Neck Oil session IPA a couple of years ago. They are a brewery on the ascendency and are in most of my friends’ top 5 brewery lists at the moment, and rightly so. Their beers are always interesting and that combined with their amazingly unique can art, means they are a brewery that is instantly recognisable.
The tasting was presented by Logan Plant, founder of Beavertown, and he was almost bursting with excitement and enthusiasm for his beers. It was interesting to hear that in a relatively short space of time Logan realised that brewing & beer was the career he wanted to follow and he has clearly invested a lot of himself in the beers he produces.
The first beer at the tasting was Yusilla Phantom (Thanks to Neil Jackson of the Aberdeen Craft Beer Collective Facebook group for confirming this…I had recalled it as Earl Phantom!). This was a mega fruity, citrusy, almost lemonade like beer, with a hint of sourness which was very fresh. Very easy to drink and really light on the palate. I would like to taste this beer fresh at the start of a session in the future, but if my memory serves me well, this is a good beer and one I would recommend.
The second beer for the tasting is ingrained in my mind, it was Spresso, an imperial stout which, as the name would suggest, tasted of coffee and malt and was amazingly smooth and easy to drink. I would love to have more of this but it seems that it is only available in a limited number of bars.
I managed to chat briefly to Logan after the tasting and he is someone very at ease with what he does, he loves beer and he loves his brewery and that comes across very clearly in his tasting sessions too.
| Food |
In between all of the business talk, the beer and the tastings, it seemed sensible at some point to consume something other than alcohol. The food selection was quite varied, with some particularly enticing options on offer.
For lunch, just prior to the business presentation, I had a very tasty and filling MooDog from Pieminister, being a 5AM Red Ale version of their steak & craft ale pie. They had a large selection of different pies on offer and they were doing brisk business. Definitely a food to go well with beer, but I would happily have this as a lunch option or something to eat on the go. If there is one near you (sadly, no outlets in Scotland from what I can see?) then I would suggest you check them out.
Based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, these guys can barbecue on an industrial scale, and the queue for their food was huge! Although, it was a pleasant wait as the sun was shining and it was a good chance to stand and chat for a while outdoors.
The menu was pretty standard barbecue food, ribs, sandwiches and hotdogs, and I decided to go for a Badass Brisket. It tasted great and together with the fries on the side, did a decent job of soaking up some of the alcohol in my system. Perfect food to accompany a beer session and I will be checking out the restaurant next time I am in Newcastle.
| Music |
There was an eclectic list of bands playing throughout the day, with the particular highlight for me being Idlewild, who played acoustically at the 2014 AGM, but this year treated everyone to a full band set. I’ve seen Idlewild a few times and I have to say that Saturday was one of the best times I’ve seen them recently. They seem like a band at ease with themselves, perhaps more relaxed playing in the AGM environment as it wasn’t one of their own gigs or shows. They also seem more at ease with their music, playing a mixture of older ‘classics; from when they were on the cusp of hitting the big time, to a selection of songs from their most recent album, which is widely regarded as a ‘return to form’.
The bands were Haight Ashbury, Model Aeroplanes, Sunshine Underground, Idlewild, Twin Atlantic, Pulled Apart by Horses and Esperanza
| Overview |
How can a day full of great beer, great people, great food and great music ever be a bad day!? I, and I suspect around 5999 others, had a great time at the #PunkAGM2015. I suspect that as BrewDog continues to grow and expand into the US and elsewhere, and with upwards of 25,000 equity punks having now invested in the company, that the AGM format will undoubtedly change in the future. I think there is still capacity for more people to attend the event when held in the AECC, but within a couple of years I think they will have reached capacity. So what are the options? Hold the event elsewhere; I can’t see it, with Ellon still being their base and HQ, any AGM event held in the UK is likely to be in the north east of Scotland, close to the brewery. Once the US brewery is up and running it may be that they will hold a similar event to the AGM in the US, but I can’t see them replacing the AGM wholesale over there.
What I think would be a good option would be to perhaps split the AGM over 2 days, with each equity punk being able to attend one or the other. They could then split/increase the guest breweries and bands so that people can choose their favourite day. That would see the AGM become more like a beer festival (which, to be honest, it already is in reality) and would ease the issues which will no doubt be experienced as the company and the event continue to grow.
Was there any downside to the day? To be honest, yes, it wasn’t perfect…I never managed to taste Hinterland! But that was my own fault, I should’ve gone for a taste of it sooner!
If you are interested in becoming an equity punk, but have yet to invest, then of course feel free to go here – www.brewdog.com/equityforpunks – and use my referral code R961167; I’d be eternally grateful, and I’ll hopefully see you at #PunkAGM2016!