James was named the 2014 Great British Entrepreneur of the Year in the United Kingdom. He is also one of only a few people in Europe to hold the Master Cicerone5 designation, which is reserved for the most devoted beer experts. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2016 as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours list. BrewDog was nine years old at the time, with a 360-person workforce, 26 bars throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, and over 14,000 shareholders. Among his most recent accomplishments are a number of book deals. James co-wrote BrewDog: Craft Beer for the People and released Business for Punks: Break All the Rules – The BrewDog Way. Both of these books demonstrated BrewDog's influence on the beer industry from a business and marketing standpoint, while also emphasizing the value of exceptional quality products in a world dominated by mainstream beer.
However, times were changing, and James was leading the charge, blazing a trail for the beer world.By 2019, James' commitment to sustainability had become a defining characteristic of the brand. BrewDog employed over 2,000 people at the time, had 100 locations worldwide, and had over 130,000 Equity Punk shareholders. While amazing beer remained at the heart of everything James did, incorporating sustainability into this world had become a matter of when, not if. Thus, in 2020, BrewDog announced that they would become the world's first carbon negative brewery – a monumental achievement that would inspire the rest of the industry to commit to changing their business practices. James collaborated closely with Mike Berners-Lee of Small World Consulting to calculate the business's carbon emissions and identify opportunities to mitigate them through authentic reforestation programs, which included a 9,308-acre plot of land in Scotland.
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