BREWDOG boss James Watt engaged in preliminary discussions with Heineken over a potential partial sale of his firm, according to reports.

Reports of Watt's willingness to sell to Heineken have prompted controversy as the brewing boss has previously been highly critical of other craft brewers for selling stakes to larger firms. 

It also came in contrast to Watt’s repeated claims that his objective was to float the company on the stock market, also known as an initial public offering (IPO).

However, it has been reported that investment bankers acting on behalf of BrewDog approached Heineken, the world’s second-largest brewing firm, to discuss selling a stake to the beer giant as a possible alternative to an IPO.

And documents have revealed that Watt met with senior representatives of the dutch brewing firm and wrote to Stefan Orlowski, the European president of Heineken at the time.

Watt told Orlowski that his firm was "open to exploring potential strategic partnerships" if it could be "better for the long-term of our business than an IPO".

Watt also said to Orlowski that BrewDog was "open to being more pragmatic in our views on independence".

However, it is understood that discussions between BrewDog and Heineken never went beyond the preliminary stage.

This report has prompted controversy as Watt has previously criticised other craft breweries for “selling out” to larger firms like Heineken.

Watt announced that BrewDog would no longer be stocking Lagunitas or Beavertown after they sold stakes in their company to Heineken in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

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It has also previously been revealed that Watt bought around £500,000 of shares in Heineken in 2017 but has said that he no longer owns the shares and only purchased them for leverage in negotiations around a distribution deal with Heineken that never materialised.

A BBC source close to the 2018 discussions has said that Heineken ended the talks before they got properly underway as the valuation BrewDog had given itself was “outrageous”.

The source said: "It was so outrageous, in his price idea, that we said well this is going nowhere. The guy [James Watt] doesn't know what he's talking about."

A spokesperson for BrewDog said: “There has never been any formal discussion about a sale or even a partial sale to Heineken and there has never been any intention to do so. This is yet another in a long line of misrepresentations broadcast by the BBC. We continue to talk to a number of brewers about possible distribution partnerships.”