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Brewdog outlines its plans for chain of craft beer shops

BREWDOG, the Aberdeenshire brewer and bar firm, has revealed it will open the first in a chain of craft beer shops in March.

Speaking a day after it launched a bar in Sao Paulo, Brazil, co-founder James Watt said the inaugural Bottledog will be based in London's King's Cross area. It will retail Brewdog's beers as well as other brews from around the world.

Mr Watt said the store will be staffed by trained beer "sommeliers", who will be on hand to recommend products and carry out tastings. Customers will also be able to fill their own kegs.

Mr Watt said a string of Bottledogs will be opened across the UK, including in Scotland. The move into the off-trade comes as the company targets adding eight bars to its 13-strong estate in the UK, and build its portfolio overseas.

In addition to Sao Paulo, its second outside the UK after Stockholm, Brewdog has plans to launch in Tokyo next month with New Delhi, Gothenburg, Paris and Berlin following later in the year. The group also plans to open an outlet in Finland.

Brewdog's expansion plans for the next 12 to 24 months will be part-funded by its latest crowdfunding campaign, which hit a £4.25 million target ahead of schedule last month.

Head brewer and fellow co-founder Martin Dickie said the funding providing by three iterations of its Equity for Punks scheme, first launched in 2009, had been vital in persuading the banks to back the business. Mr Watt revealed the firm's "punk investors", whom he variously describes as "beer geeks, connoisseurs and aficionados", held around 13% of the equity in the business and did not rule out going back to the crowd for further investment in future.

Brewdog spent an initial £4.5m on its move to a new brewery in Ellon, Aberdeenshire around a year ago. It features a state of the art bottling line, imported from Krones of Germany at a cost of £800,000 - its single most expensive piece of kit.

With output having grown to around 53,000 hectolitres, the equivalent of 16.2 million bottles last year, Mr Dickie said an extra £1m has been invested to meet demand.

Brewdog, which exports 65% of its output and reaches 42 countries, has installed new tanks and bought the site next door to open a warehouse and two-storey office. It plans to turn its existing warehouse into a visitor centre with a "mini beer academy" where people can get hands-on experience of the brewing process.

Mr Watt said: "That understanding, that education element is so key to what we do. The more people can understand and appreciate something they are much less likely to abuse it."

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