Coming from the North East, I've always had a big affection for Brewdog.
Its a brand famous for its controversy and from a marketing perspective, very interesting. Not to mention it does absolutely fantastic beers! I was lucky enough to be invited to the Brewdog writers' event on Friday which included a tour of the brewery and a tasting session.
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Originally based in Fraserburgh, the brewery recently moved to a new location in Ellon. The brewery itself is amazing: call me naïve but I had no idea it was going to be that big. And they're planning to expand it even further! As of three weeks ago they're now brewing 24/7 and do about 10 brews per day. They also have their own lab which looked like something from a sci-fi movie where they test all the brews they do to make sure they pass their high quality standards.
As the brewery tour ended, Martin handed us a bottle of Punk IPA, straight off the conveyor belt (it had only been bottled a few seconds before with their new labels). You don't get much fresher than that! Punk IPA is Brewdog's flagship beer. The name encompasses the beginnings of their journey and their desire to do things differently. I'm sure if you're reading this then you've tried Punk before and will most probably agree that it's a great IPA.
We then headed into the DogTap, which is the bar joined on to the brewery. It had an amazing chandelier made from empty beer bottles which got my interior design juices flowing. I'm now thinking lampshades, picture frames and book cases made from bottles! I've already got my favourite beer as a vase. Back to Brewdog. I had a Magic Stone Dog which is a collaboration between BrewDog, Magic Rock and Stone breweries to produce a saison/pale ale hybrid. It was a lovely golden colour and tasted very fresh and citrusy. There was also the spicy element that the saison brought in but because it was a pale ale hybrid, the spiciness was quite subtle. It's a lovely summer beer that has a bit more punch than a pale ale, but also something different from an IPA.
Speaking of IPAs…two words…'Jack' and 'Hammer'. We moved on from the bar to a tasting session held by James and Martin. First up was Punk, but we then had a Jack Hammer. Wow. If you don't like IPAs, this probably isn't for you! Very hoppy, very bitter, very nice! Pine and orange were the main tastes I got, but also some more tropical fruits too. Not one for the faint hearted - I dare you to take a gulp with a completely straight face!
We then took a sharp turn from citrus and hops to coffee and chocolate with Black Eyed King Imp. After a big meal, I never really feel like eating desserts, and I've now found my alternative. Black Eyed King is brewed with cacoa nibs and coffee beans and uses a wide selection of malts including crystal and roasted barley to give it a malty bitterness and a rich vanilla and molasses taste. This beer was truly great. A third of this at the end of a meal would be the perfect way to end it. However, it's pretty difficult to get your hands on as it was part of a small batch that has been aged for two years in whisky casks.
We finished with a Brixton Porter which was my favourite beer of the night. It was brewed to celebrate the opening of a Brewdog bar in Brixton, but sadly the deal fell through at the last minute. I'm glad releasing the beer didn't fall through as it's absolutely delicious! Strong coffee flavours like the Black Eyed King but Brixton Porter had a much stronger 'burnt' taste which I'm a big fan of.
Brewdog get a lot of stick about focussing on 'shock tactics' and being more interested in marketing than the beers themselves but people who brew beer this good obviously have more than just marketing on their mind. You can really tell that James and Martin are extremely proud of their beers and that they spread this passion to everyone who works there.