In terms of craft beer advancement Brewdog has been largely regressive in scope and execution. Their beers range from absurd publicity stunts, to faded transatlantic IPAs, to lackluster/overpriced stouts, none of which particularly resonate with furthering craft beer from product standpoint in any meaningful way. Whenever FORBES or MENS HEALTH does some vapid, beta-tier list of “EXPENSIVE/POWERFUL” beers, I usually have to field questions about END OF HISTORY and grind my molars explaining away those showy cries for validation. DDB is left to pick up the pieces and restore credibility for craft beer in the eyes of normal people.
I am not here to articulate a standpoint on their beers, today I am here to review James Watt’s new foray into literature: BUSINESS FOR PUNKS.
What does this book do well?
The layout is attractive. The writing is punchy and clear. It provides real world anecdotes about Brewdog’s various successes in the UK marketplace. It never mires you in the details or minutia of craft beer and serves as an accessible rung to the Charlie Papazian meets Mark Cuban homebrewer with a community college comprehension of economics. It would make a fine gift for your “beer friend” that you once saw order a Skull Splitter during the company mixer. You can whip through the book with ease and there is no bar to advancement for a novice reader interested in starting a brewery. There are genuinely valuable stories from Watt’s successful career that may have some carryover to the current beer scene. It is never dull nor does it overstay its welcome.
What Makes this Book So Shitty?
The self-aggrandizing tone of the entire endeavor makes me wonder if James Watt tore his rotator cuff patting himself on the back throughout the expanse of the narrative. You cannot proceed three lines without some braggadocio tirade about how he revolutionized a non-existent Scottish beer industry in 2007 when almost zero meaningful competition existed. The advice can be regarded as dated and his circumstances may be seen as wholly unique to the target audience, namely, homebrewing fledgling cicerones who want to cash in and become the 5,000th local home brewery.
The book is littered with out of context quotes from seemingly random figures, all dubbed “PUNKS” of varying measures. KURT COBAIN, rock n roll PUNK, JOHN LOCKE, philosopher PUNK. I love that a book wholly centered on selfish self promotion, predicated upon ruthless capitalism, is somehow anchored firmly within the PUNK IDEOLOGY.
This book is more padded than the bra of an insecure 7th grader. There are non-stop paragraph breaks to toss in needless segmented, sometimes nonsensical aphorisms that could have come straight off of a NO FEAR t-shirt.
While it does deliver sound economic advice early on with regards to packaging, price tiers, and legitimate insight with regards to marketing, some of the other sections seem wildly anomalous in the current market landscape. Watt advises brewers that NETWORKING IS FOR DIPSHITS and that you shouldn’t collaborate and other bewildering, highly questionable practices that are wholly iconoclastic in the current state of craft beer.
I appreciate logical structuring, and sure aesthetic is important, but pages upon pages are wasted with shit like this:
If you are one of those types of people who own THE NAKED PINT or that kinda literature, you’ll be completely at ease with this offering.
This isn’t a bad book from a purely functional perspective and you wont be worse off having read it. The real issue is how much applicable advice it carries for the current marketplace. Chances are, if you read DDB you aren’t the target consumer anyway. While it’s tough to burn this book to the foundation, there simply isn’t a wealth of solid information once the bitter fondant of TUCKER MAX meets PUNXCULTURE is wiped away. Further damning are the lengthy, meandering forays into potentially caustic advice regarding avoiding working with other breweries and supporting the community at large. Inherent selfishness at all costs seems to be the capital oeuvre herein.
Watt is wildly successful, so perhaps a single condodwelling shitlord making sweeping condemnations of his work hardly seems fair. At the heart of it, Watt is at his best when he is adding obscure marzipan to an amber ale, or fermenting some gaudy shit at the bottom of a lake: authorship might reside out of the ambit of this brewer/sea captain/legal scholar (?) renaissance man.
The delayed thesis is procedurally Hemingway, but Pynchonesque in ironic reader derision. So I guess, well done?