Details Surrounding BrewDog Backed Crowns & Hops Brewery
In 2015, The Full Pint was gearing up for another fun yet grueling LA Beer Week. As many might be aware, most beer weeks are a string of top-notch beer events. By the end of it, you are drained from all the rich beer and food. It was this year that we met the dude behind a brand new Instagram account, Black People Love Beer. That man was none other than the larger than life, animated character Teo Hunter. We immediately bonded, and while Teo was still getting his brand off the ground, we knew he was enjoying being a part of the newly forged craft beer culture in Los Angeles. Eventually, Black People Love Beer’s instagram morphed into Dope & Dank, a full on influencing brand to help promote diversity in craft beer through video campaigns and hosted beer events.
Since Dope & Dank’s inception, small breweries here in Los Angeles would team up with Teo and his partner Beny Ashburn in order to draw attention to Dope & Dank’s message, but also to market to an audience both sides of the partnership agreed was missing in the taproom space. From my view point, there is an opportunity to evangelize good beer to an urban crowd that is usually having gas station beer or sweetened liquor marketed towards them. Dope & Dank seemed to have recognized a market that most craft breweries small to large have yet to understand.
As Dope & Dank’s profile became bigger, opportunities came knocking on their door. The Golden Road / Viceland Series Beerland invited Teo on as a judge for season 1 [link here] and then they were invited last year to participate in the launch of the OTT based BrewDog TV.
While I follow Dope & Dank along with hundreds of other beer accounts on social media, I was caught off guard a few weeks ago when Dope & Dank dropped two big bombs on the Los Angeles beer scene. A press release went circulating that Dope & Dank was no more and they have renamed their entity to Crowns & Hops. Along with their new name, they would be launching a brewpub in Inglewood, CA under the new name with the help of BrewDog.
You can find the initial details in this press release and in this blog post by BrewDog.
While that was a lot to take in, we were most curious why an entity that has so much momentum would boldy change their brand name. We reached out to co-founder Teo and he explained that they received a cease and desist letter from a company in the world of fashion and had to quickly move to a new name. While it’s a shame they had to quickly pivot at the peak of their popularity, they have enough steam behind them that people will still be following along for the ride.
Here’s where it gets weird for everyone. BrewDog has gone from a charming, scrappy Scottish brewery with fun marketing to a private equity backed international power house with the most obnoxious, cringe inducing marketing in the entire industry. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who can actually talk about the beer they make, but you will always be able to incite some emotion surrounding their latest calculated PR blunder. We don’t feel like beating a dead horse, but you can check out an article we published late last year on BrewDog’s solidified place in the beer world here.
Now we have an intersection of two people that ‘LA Beer’ has grown to love in Teo and Beny, shacking up with a company that’s notorious for two things: horrible publicity stunts and expanding into major metropolitans all over the world.
This raised many immediate questions such as:
- Does BrewDog own Crowns & Hops?
- If BrewDog doesn’t own Crowns & Hops, how much ownership or investment do they have?
- Is BrewDog using Dope & Dank’s clout in the LA Beer scene as a means to launch a brewery that would otherwise not take in this market?
- Why the crowd funding, $75,000 doesn’t buy a brewery?
- Knowing $75,000 doesn’t buy a brewery, who or how is this funded?
We sat down with Teo to get these questions answered. In regards to BrewDog’s ownership of the brand, Teo claims him and Beny are still the owners of Crowns & Hops the brand. BrewDog has an undisclosed single digit ownership percentage of the future brewpub with an option to own a larger minority stake. While there was questions surrounding trademark ownership based on some brief searches, Teo explained “BrewDog’s lawyers helped us push the process along quicker and easier than we could have ourselves.” We learned this was also done for the sake of the TV appearances Dope & Dank filmed for BrewDog.
As mentioned in the joint press release (links above), and mentioned in a Q & A session on Crowns & Hops IGTV feed [link here], BrewDog granted Crowns & Hops benefits of their “BrewDog Development Fund 2.0” and have contributed $200,000.00 so far. “The $75,000 crowdfunding won’t completely fund this project, this campaign is to kick things off and get the word out.” When asked Teo where the rest of the money will come from based on the rough public numbers, he said that “investors are being identified, they have to be a good fit.” While we applauded the transparency provided, we were curious why BrewDog was not mentioned at all in the Indie Go Go campaign. Teo explained “Honestly, they are really coming in from a supportive role, not an owner role and preferred to not be as front facing to avoid confusing it with a BrewDog business.”
We have questions for the folks at BrewDog surrounding this project and subsequent projects, and hope to have answers in a followup piece, so stay tuned for that.
As of press, Crowns & Hops has raised nearly $24,000 with 24 days left to go in the flexible crowdfunding campaign using Indie Go Go. If you are a fan of theirs, a fan of their message of diversity and inclusion, head over to their page and make a donation here https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/crowns-hops-brewing-co