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BrewDog seals tie-up with Budweiser to expand across China

Craft beer firm BrewDog is expanding across China after striking a joint venture deal with brewing giant Budweiser.

BrewDog said the tie-up will see brands such as Punk IPA, Hazy Jane and Elvis Juice launch across China from next month.

Its beers will be brewed locally in China in collaboration with BrewDog’s brewing team and head of quality at Budweiser China’s Putian Craft Brewery in Fujian province.

BrewDog, which is headquartered in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, also plans to open several new bars in China by 2026, adding to its one Chinese venue in Shanghai and existing 110-strong overseas network of sites.

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China currently accounts for less than 1% of BrewDog’s overall sales, but the group is hoping the deal will allow it to ramp up sales in Greater China and tap into what it believes is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of beer.

The joint venture is set to be fully operational by the end of March.

BrewDog founder James Watt said: “This is a genuinely transformational partnership which is going to bring BrewDog to every corner of the world’s biggest beer market, from a truly bespoke craft brewery which will help ensure the quality of our beers.”

Under the long-term agreement, BrewDog will look to Budweiser’s “highly sophisticated” sales and distribution network to help it expand in the region.

BrewDog will also tie up with an affiliate of Budweiser China to boost its international footprint into South Korea, with options for other Asian markets going forwards.

The Chinese deal marks BrewDog’s second joint venture in Asia, following its partnership in Japan with another brewer in September 2021.

It follows controversies surrounding BrewDog in recent years, with the firm accused by former workers in an open letter in 2021 of having a “culture of fear” within the business, with “toxic attitudes” towards junior staff.

Mr Watt has apologised to staff and since insisted the group has made changes after the open letter was published.

Its marketing tactics have also come under fire and most recently a BrewDog ad was banned over a claim that its fruit-flavoured beers constitute “one of your five a day”.

BrewDog said the claims were “tongue in cheek”.