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BrewDog co-founder pens letter to the unscrupulous ‘Mr Emperor’ who opened a counterfeit bar in China


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

December 4, 2013 | 5 min read

BrewDog co-founder, James Watt, has penned a letter to the owner of a replica bar which opened in China, thanking him for the compliment of copying his “mother-fucking cathedrals of craft beer”, but suggesting next time he have a stab at doing it on the back of his own ideas.

The fake BrewDog opened in Changzhou earlier this year, using the same branding and familiar canine logo. At the time, Watt spoke out and said it had nothing to do with his company.

After taking some time to decide whether legal action was the route to go down, it appears Watt and his partner Martin Dickie decided a witty, yet scathing, letter was the best way to handle the unscrupulous owner.

Read the full letter below.

Dear (fake) BrewDog China manager/owner/emperor,

Thank you. It’s not every day someone pays you the compliment of copying what you do. I mean, I’ll admit we were surprised when we saw a picture of the bar you’ve constructed in our image in Changzhou, and maybe a little terrified, but mainly we were peculiarly proud. There’s something that says ‘you’ve made it’ when a weird replica of your craft beer brand is peddling beers through counterfeit taps somewhere in the world’s biggest country. I honestly cannot wait to visit (fake) BrewDog China. Is there a fake James and Martin we can meet? Because that would be awesome.

I know that most organisations might reprimand you, condemn you and maybe even sue you for faking their logo and their bar concept, but speaking as the people normally being slapped on the wrists for rocking the apple cart in this industry, that would smack of hypocrisy. BrewDog exists to make everyone as passionate about beer as we are, and frankly your choice to build a fake BrewDog bar in Changzhou – rather than a fake McDonald’s, a fake Starbucks or a fake Nike Town – suggests to me that we are getting there.

You see, Mr Emperor, in 2007 we were just two humans and a dog. At that point, having a counterfeit bar carrying our logo in a part of China I can’t pronounce was just a pipe dream. We wanted to start a craft beer revolution, and we see your little bar as very much an ally in that revolution. As a nation, you’ve got form.

The fact that it is no longer the global mega brands alone that are being copied in China, but also the small craft beer producers, proves to me that there is not just a slight change in the world’s food and drink tastes, but a tectonic shift. Yes, your strange little bar exists on the fringes of legality, legitimacy and taste, but when the wheel spins, it’s on the edges that sparks fly – and we know all about that ourselves. We have over 12,000 investors that have all bought into the craft beer revolution, each of them a spark flying in the face of convention, and in a bizarre way you guys are joining them. We see you not as criminals, but compatriots. Not as competitors, but comrades.

Our BrewDog bars are mother-fucking cathedrals of craft beer, and although yours probably falls short of that standard, it does still fight the same fight, weirdly. Despite being a very small and artificial pin in the global craft beer revolution map, your bar (maybe even more than ours) proves the old empires are burning down. The rules are already broken.

So – thank you Mr Emperor. And good luck with your fake bar. I’ll be along to visit soon – I’m looking forward to trying the 6AM Saint and the Funk IPA. I do still nurture a small hope, though, that imitation is the starting point for imagination for you. If next time, rather than knocking up a do-it-yourself BrewDog bar with an odd red logo, you go one step further and have a stab at your own craft beer, then you will really be onto something. You’ll care more, and in turn you’ll be better. You’ll give more to the business, listen more to your customers and you’ll make a metric ton of mistakes before you’ve even had breakfast but most of all, Mr. emperor of fake shenanigans, you will have fun. It won’t be about the money, it will be about the beer. And maybe one day, someone will send you a low-resolution picture they found on the Internet of a tiny bar somewhere on the other side of the world, with a makeshift version of your logo slapped on the front of it, and you’ll feel exactly like we do. Like things will never be the same again.

Bye bye.

(real) James.


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