Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Camra's BrewDog GBBF Own Goal?

I gather from this article that BrewDog are fairly miffed to have had their booking for a bar at the Great British Beer Festival cancelled by Camra despite contracts being signed and  BrewDog paying the final deposit.

It seems, according to BrewDog, that the size of the kegs used by the company were no longer acceptable despite being previously agreed. BrewDog's, James Watt also states that Camra "reneged from our original agreement and insisted we take cask beer".

I'm only going on what James Watt and the BrewDog spin machine are saying but if it is correct, then it seems a very poor show by Camra.

Why enter into a contractual agreement in which both parties are clearly content with what's been decided if you are going to move the goalposts once the ink has dried and the cash has been paid?

I would like to hear what Camra Chair Colin Valentine has to say by way of justification. He was very quick to criticise the 'bloggerati' at the Camra AGM. Will he be as quick to explain, to Camra members like myself, why the organisation has decided to pull the plug on BrewDog?

In my view, this decision, if true, smacks of petty narrow minded beer fundamentalism with Camra more content to score some cheap points against BrewDog rather than honour the terms and conditions of the original contract. BrewDog and Camra have previous and each like nothing better than to rile and rub each other up the wrong way. So, it's not exactly a surprise that this has happened.

However, the manner in which BrewDog describe it as happening, post contract and exchange of deposit, draws me to the conclusion that this is could be an own goal by Camra that will end up hurting the Real Ale organisation more that it will hurt BrewDog.

Perhaps, Camra Chair, Colin Valentine and GBBF organiser, Marc Holmes would like to explain the decision. I'd like to hear Camra's version of events.


Footnote - Since writing this blog, Marc Holmes, The GBBF organiser for Camra has responded to James Watt's Blogpost on the BrewDog website.
Here's his response -


The reason Brewdog are not coming is that you didn’t pay the outstanding balance, as per the terms of the contract.

- The contract stated payment for the bar was due by May 27th. Giving you until July was very generous, nearly 7 weeks.

- The ultimatum was Thursday 12pm, you kept arguing and didn't agree until Friday 11am. Too late, we had programme deadlines to meet.

But to answer some of your other points:

- Right from the very start we said your beer must be supplied in large containers. We were happy with 50L kegs (as long as the beer contained live yeast) but you persisted in wanting to use 30L keykegs. Thornbridge did use 9G casks last year but it didn't work - they will be using 18G casks this year. We were looking at ordering in excess of 60 kils (equivalent) of beer, which is just not practical in 30L keykegs.

- You were the one that offered to supply cask beer in 18G casks.

Happy to start talking about GBBF 2012, and feel free to pop in this year to see how it works. I’ll even send you some tickets.

Marc Holmes
GBBF Organiser."

So BrewDog say they paid their final deposit, whereas Camra say that BrewDog didn't pay the outstanding amount and pulled the plug because of this.

Who is telling the truth? You can make up your own mind.



  1. NB Colin has nothing to do with organization of GBBF, the man in charge is MAarc Holmes

  2. @steve lamond

    Thanks, steve. It was addressed to CV as he is Chair of Camra. will update

  3. Surely BrewDog were angling for something like this to happen from the start? But, in any case, it's good publicity for them and egg on CAMRA's face.

  4. Marc commented on the original Brewdog post announcing their attendance at GBBF. Here it is:
    "Some facts to answer questions floating about here and elsewhere:
    - CAMRA buys the beer from the brewery, CAMRA sells the beer to the public, Brewdog are paying for the privilege of having a dedicated bar.
    - The beer will be in 50l Keykegs. Unfortunately this will limit the amount we can order so it may run out.
    - The beer will conform to CAMRA's definition of real ale - unpasteurised, unfiltered and with enough viable yeast to allow secondary fermentation (don't worry, we'll be checking...).
    - It will be served using compressed air, as James says as per the foreign beers. At no point will the beer come into contact with extraneous CO2.
    - If James wants to work behind the bar he can, as soon as he joins CAMRA, as per the terms of the contract."

  5. @Curmudgeon

    Aye. this sort of thing was always on the cards. The strange thing is that both of them (brewdog and camra)benefit from each other's existence. I don't think that BrewDog will be overly bothered by the decision. It gives them the green light to have another go at Camra.
    If what BrewDog say is correct, and it should be taken with a pinch of salt, then it strikes me as particularly bad business form by Camra to try and move the goalposts after the contracts have been signed.
    As i say, we have only heard one side of the story. We are still waiting for camra to put theirs.

  6. This has been, again, deliberate by James Watt, to make CAMRA look like arseholes. Brewdog never had any intention of being ther, but, again, used it as a PR stunt. They were in breach of contract for failing to pay there monies owned. It is a legal dispute not a beer one.

    James Watt has a lot to answer for. I am glad I am not Martin Dickie, the way he rapes his best mate through Brewdog.

  7. @anonymous.

    There's no surprise that this has happened. it was always on the cards that some fall out would 'occur'whether manufactured or spontaeneous and it would all fall apart.

  8. I am loving the BrewDog fan boys bashing away on their blog, some brilliant comments. They are so 'dogwashed' as Mr Garvie says they can't see the wood for the trees, like BrewDog are poor hard done by little puppies who never put a foot wrong. As usual they are creating a lot of exposure for themselves, way more than they'd get by actually turning up in London.

    If what CAMRA says is true they were several weeks late with payment. I doubt it was deliberate non payment just to be able to create a fuss though. This is just a spin on the story to cover up BrewDog's fuck up by not paying on time and deciding they were going to do things their own way. I'm pretty sure Bruce said he was going to sign up for CAMRA membership though, so there was every intention of attending.

    At the end of the day, who cares if their beer is at GBBF, they've got 3 bars, go to one of those.

    As for 'raping his best mate'? That's an entirely inappropriate comment

  9. @Chris Mair

    Cheers for your contribution, Chris.
    I now think your estimation of the events are probably closer to the truth than what James was saying on the BrewDog Blog.
    I also agree with you in terms of JW trying to turn what has happened into the most positive light for them. Hence, him having a dig or two at Camra.
    It will be perceived by adherents of both groups differently. It's dog whistle beer politics. The BrewDog fan boys/girls will see this as another attempt by, what they see, as an 'out of touch' organisation trying to victimise their beer messiahs.
    The Camra Old Guard will interpret it as a seeing off of those craft beer ruffians who intend to bring the organisation down.
    Both groups will find comfort in their own beer beliefs.

    When have BrewDog ever let facts stand in the way of some cheap PR. Remember them claiming victory for the parliamentary changes to the third pint measurements?

    I also agree with your comments regarding Anonymous' comment. Uncalled for.

  10. I think its strange that this is so cut and dry. It comes down to who is telling the truth, which in itself is surprising. Either CAMRA are lying about what has transpired or BrewDog are lying, but will we ever find out the truth?

  11. @Neil, Eatingisn'tCheating

    Even when/if the truth does come out, there will still be people who will believe what they want to regardless of the facts. For proof, see the 'debate' currently taking place on the comments section of the BrewDog blog.