BrewDog Brewery and Pubs

This design file is a work in progress. We welcome contributions, corrections, and updates. 


Figuring out a new set of categories for design labels isn’t an easy process, as you can imagine. We define good design based on its ability to impact society and the environment positively. The categories listed below represent the topics on which M21D focuses to identify good design. 


However, they’re constructed categories (like everything in human society) and aren’t perfect. The categories’ limits are porous. For example, what constitutes the materials of a can of carbon-negative beer? Malt, hops, yeast, water, and aluminum? What about the trees that BrewDog plants to offset the carbon emitted by the production of that beer? We’re navigating this challenge and would appreciate any thoughtful suggestions on how to do it better.  


A second challenge is that most of the information M21D focuses on is difficult to discover. Traditional attributions, such as designer or date of production, are securely recorded in archives and business records. Learning how a company treats its employees or all of the names of people involved in complex processes are difficult tasks. We’re doing the best we can with the help of consumer protection bureaus, third-party analysts, and online reviews. We need all the help we can get.

  • Creators: The entire BrewDog team, including Mike Berners-Lee, Lead Scientific Advisor; James Watt, co-founder; and Martin Dickie, co-founder

  • Materials: Beer (Malt, hops, yeast, water, and aluminum), brewery, pubs, and additional materials used to make BrewDog carbon negative.   

  • Environment

    • Carbon footprint: BrewDog removes, beginning in August 2020, twice the amount of carbon it and its supply chain puts into the atmosphere. Based on BrewDog’s best estimation, it emitted 74,652 tonnes of CO2 in 2020 and removed 59,622 tonnes. 

    • Energy: wind turbine, electrical vehicle fleet, gas (71.5 MJ per hL), electricity (36.1 MJ per hL), water (3.13 hL per hL of beer), spent grain turned into green gas, 

    • Life-cycle assessment: No information available

  • Labor: Corp-B certified; the career’s page advertizes a “living-wage pay.”

  • Equality: No information available

The independent craft brewery and pub chain BrewDog is the world’s first “carbon-negative international beer business.” That means the company removes more carbon from the atmosphere than it produces throughout its entire supply and distribution chain.   


Carbon (Carbon dioxide, also known as CO2) creates a cover that traps the sun’s heat in the atmosphere, which warms the planet. It’s a primary factor in climate change, and getting our carbon-levels down is key to keeping our ecology intact. 


BrewDog enlisted Professor Mike Berners-Lee as their lead scientific advisor to help remove carbon from the atmosphere. Berners-Lee applied his expertise in carbon foot-printing and sustainability to help BrewDog go negative. This is a comprehensive effort. It includes switching to wind power and electric delivery vehicles, repurposing drinking cans and ingredients, and planting a forest’s worth of trees. 


BrewDog is planting 1,400 acres of broadleaf forest and returning 650 acres to peatland. That’s 2,050 acres of land and more than one million trees in Scotland near Loch Lomond in the Scottish Highlands. The trees and peat will remove and sequester carbon from the atmosphere and provide a natural habitat for wildlife. BrewDog is also adding a campsite for sustainability-focused retreats and workshops.


Meanwhile, BrewDog is doing their best to reduce waste. Spent spelt from the brewhouse goes into dog biscuits, otherwise wasted beer goes into a zero-waste vodka, and 100% of the fruit in their Sour Beers is surplus fruit that would otherwise be wasted. 


BrewDog now removes twice as much carbon from the atmosphere as the business puts in. All of this information came from the company’s sustainability report. I recommend starting with the final few pages, which contain the aptly named “Science Bit.”

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