About Me

James Watt, Biography

James Watt is an Aberdeenshire entrepreneur who co-founded one of the world’s most

popular craft breweries, BrewDog.

Before embarking on a hop-fuelled journey that would change the face of the beer industry

forever, James completed an honours degree in Law and Economics. It didn’t take long for

him to discover that the corporate suit-and-tie world of litigation and libel was not for him,

so he packed in his career in a law after a few weeks, opting to return to the bitter cold

shores of Northeast Scotland to join his father as a fully-qualified Deepsea Captain.

At 24-years-old, James took a new path. Inspired by the bold and experimental beers being

crafted by a new movement of brewers on the West Coast of the U.S, James joined forces

with friend Martin Dickie, and together the pair started brewing their own beers in Martin’s

mum’s garage. In a world dominated by cask bitters and mass-produced lagers, their

penchant for heavily-hopped and relentlessly bitter beers made them a unique duo,

especially in the town of Fraserburgh. Undeterred by opinion, they pursued their passion

through meticulous study, experimentation and boundary-pushing ideas, hellbent on

showcasing that beer could be more than just fizzy yellow liquid made by global dominating


2007 was a seminal year for James. BrewDog became a reality, setting up shop on a derelict

industrial estate in Fraserburgh between a needle exchange and ‘The Godfather of Carpets’.

While Martin took the reins on brewing and production, James focused on growing the

business, handling accounts and spearheading the brand’s new breed of irreverent

marketing that grabbed headlines for years to come. Not only did the pair produce some of

the most exciting beers the UK has ever seen, but James also led the charge on Equity for

Punks, a ground-breaking new crowdfunding initiative that would be mirrored for years to

come by other brands across the globe.

In 2014, James was awarded Great British Entrepreneur of the Year. He is also one of only a

handful of people in Europe holding the title of Master Cicerone5, a title reserved for only

the most diligent beer experts. In 2016, he was awarded the MBE in the 2016 Queen’s

Birthday Honours list. By this time, BrewDog was now 9 years old and boasted a 360-person

strong workforce, 26 bars across the UK and Europe, as well as over 14,000 shareholders.

Latter achievements include a number of publishing deals. James released Business for

Punks: Break All The Rules – The BrewDog Way and co-wrote BrewDog: Craft Beer for the

People. These books both showed the impact that BrewDog had on the beer, from both a

business and marketing perspective, as well highlighting the importance of exceptional

quality products in a world heavily populated by mainstream beer. But times were changing,

and James was at the front of the pack, leading the way and carving a new path for the beer


By 2019, James’ passion for sustainability had become integral to the brand. BrewDog was

employing over 2,000 people at this time, with 100 bars located around the globe and over

130,000 Equity Punk shareholders. Amazing beer was still at the heart of everything James

was doing, but building sustainability into this world was now not a question of if, but when.

So, in 2020, BrewDog announced that they were the world’s first carbon negative brewery –

a huge step that would see the industry take note and follow suit with commitments to

change the way they do business. James worked closely with Small World Consulting’s Mike

Berners-Lee to calculate the businesses carbon emissions and identify ways to reduce these

through authentic reforestation programmes, which included a 9,308 acre plot of land in the

Scottish Highlands and set forth to embark on one of the largest reforestation projects the

UK has ever seen.

In just 15 years, the beer world has transformed. Beyond the liquid in your glass, the

breweries at the forefront of the movement are more than just suppliers of a product. They

are social commentators, integral to local communities and beacons of quality and change.

James has been paramount to these developments, showing that beer can be a force for



James Watt BrewDog Portfolio