BrewDog expands in China via Budweiser joint venture

BrewDog co-founder James Watt

Aberdeenshire-based craft brewing giant BrewDog is to expand in China after forming a joint venture with Budweiser China.

BrewDog, in which private equity firm TSG owns a stake, will begin brewing Punk IPA and other beers in China and will open more bars in the country.

BrewDog’s Punk IPA, Hazy Jane and Elvis Juice will be produced at Budweiser China’s new Putian craft brewery in Fujian.

And the Scottish company aims to open nine more BrewDog-branded bars to add to one that is already open in Shanghai.

The move in China follows a venture in 2021 with Japan’s Asahi, under which BrewDog said it had since doubled sales in that country.

Bud China is a unit of Bud Apac, the Asian brewer majority-owned by AB InBev.

Brewdog founder James Watt described the Budweiser China joint venture as “transformational” and said it would take the firm to “every corner of the world’s biggest beer market.”

Watt said: “We don’t want to be owned by ‘big beer’ but we do want to become a global beer business.

“Most of our focus in putting our capital to work is international.

“The environment is very challenging in the UK.”

Watt wrote on LinkedIn: “Today, we are excited to share the news of the next partnership – one that will bring our beers to every corner of the world’s biggest beer market.

“China. About a fifth of the world’s beer is drunk in China, and yet the country accounts for less than one per cent of our global sales – this is something we are determined to change.

“We have been in the market since 2015 and we opened our bar in Shanghai in 2020. But to say we’ve barely scratched the surface of this dynamic and fast-growing market would be a massive understatement.

“China is one of those markets where you really need to work with an established partner who has a sales and distribution infrastructure in place and local market knowledge.

“That’s why we’re really pleased to have signed a partnership agreement with Bud China to enable us to fast track our Chinese business.

“Craft beer is growing massively in China – the market is about ten times bigger than it was a decade ago – so this is a huge deal for our business and our ambitions going forward.

“Our headliners – Punk IPA, Hazy Jane and Elvis Juice – will be locally produced with close oversight from our Master Brewers and world class quality team.

“By making beer closer to our customers – as we do in the US, Germany and Australia – we can give craft beer lovers a much fresher product and do it in a way which is better for the planet.

“We’re also looking to open up to ten BrewDog bars in China over the next five years to help showcase everything we love about craft beer to new audiences.

“We’ve always wanted to go for growth in China – now we can do it from a position of strength, while remaining fiercely independent.”