Posts Tagged ‘BrewDog’

I told you about the package from BrewDog that arrived the other week – but how were the beers?

First of all, there were two bottles of the 5 A.M Saint. It was interesting to compare this with the locally available Alpha Dog, the profile is very similar with lots of fresh hops.

On to the rarities:

Abstrakt AB:01 Hazy brown beer with  lazy carbonation. It has a plastic “champagne” cork, not the real hing. With your inventive packaging for other beers, I know you can do better, boys.

Roses and herbs in the nose, sweet liqueur, almond bitterness, flowers. Toffee, malt, alcohol warming. Complex beer, on the sweet side, but very enjoyable. I should probably have controlled myself and given this some time in the cellar, but…

The Prototype 27 is really BrewDog at their best, a close relation to their Rake Raspberry Stout from a few years back, but this time using an IPA as the starting point. A glowing amber beer. Strong raspberry aroma, smoke and whisky palate. The smoke plays merrily around the berries, giving flavour you never believed you’d find in a beer. Not much of the IPA character left, but I don’t really miss that.

I wonder how many failed attempts they have before they end up with a brilliant brew like this.


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Actually, he didn’t bring it. I had to go to the post office to pick it up. Buit it was well worth the trip!

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Mikkeller glasses


Still a few odds and ends from my Copenhagen weekend.

I did not spend every waking moment at the beer festival – they did, after all, have limited opening hours. The other main event of the week was, of course, the opening of the new Mikkeller bar on Vesterbro.

The location is fairly central, about ten minutes from Tivoli or the Central Station. We’re talking about the back of the central station here, what used to be a fairly seedy area but now seems rather gentrified.

It’s a small place, so I assume you have to turn up early. It was, obviously, packed the Saturday evening when we were there, a quiet weekday afternoon is probably the time to go. Well, that applies to most bars around the globe, doesn’t it?.

So. Parts of the Norwegian delegation managed to find a vacant table, squeezed in between a table of pretty ladies on one side and three guys from BrewDog on the other.

15 beers on tap. A house pils and weissbier, an ever rotating list of Mikkeller beers, a cross section of breweries Mikkeller collaborates with from around the globe. Even three lambics on tap.

I tried a crisp and dry Vesterbro Pilsner. Fantastic, refreshing beer. The Mikkeller Sour Wine was probably a one off, strong, sour beer with no carbonation. Lots of sweetness, too, a puzzling beverage.

A Mikkeller/Amager colloboration next – Hr. Fredriksen Wæsel, which I believe is a blend, probably a one off. Coffee, smoke and liquorice, chocolate and cream, long smokey finish. A Girardin Junge Lambic was just the thing to clean the palate.

A long list of bottled beers, too, but I never got to look at that. But what I got was a glass of Speedway Stout kindly shared by James from BrewDog.

The Mikkeller web site promises cheese and other snacks, too. But that must be for more quiet evenings.

It’s a must stop in Copenhagen. Don’t hesitate if you are in town! Heck, it is a reason to visit in itself.

Thanks to Bjørn for helping out with photos!

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James Watt

Spreading the BrewDog word

I first saw James Watt just a few months after they had started BrewDog. They brought along some unlabeled bottles to a ratebeer gathering in Glasgow, and, thanks to their present London sales rep Tom, they had some of their beers on cask at the Blackfriars for the event. 

The rest is, of course, history. Cunning marketing,  strong salesmanship, supernatural ability to make newspaper headlines – and a long line of great beers. 

Which leads to sell out houses at beer tastings, a phenomenon we’ve never seen around here before. 

James visited Håndverkerstuene earlier this week, which was only one of the stops on a tour of Norway.  And James delivers. He has developed his presentation to an hour of excellent entertainment. A representative range of their beers with tasting notes, a number of anecdotes and jokes, ending up with samples of Sink the Bismarck!, their latest freeze distilled super strength beer, which was the world’s strongest the last time I checked. 

The last time he was in Oslo, the audience was mostly people from the restaurant industry, some of which seemed fairly bored. Now it’s getting to be more like a religious revival, or, perhaps a better cliché, a rock star on tour. 

I think there are more Meet the Brewer events to come here in Norway. Another sign that the market has mutated into something bigger and more sophisticated. 

And how was the Bismarck!? I think you should find out for yourself. Rumour is there will be a few bottles for sale at Vinmonopolet. At 600 kroner or so. 

Thanks to Lars Marius for the photos. 

Sink the Bismarck!

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New dog in town

Who would have thought, just a year or two ago, that we would have a BrewDog beer on Norwegian supermarket shelves? Specially brewed for Norway?

And I’m not talking about any exclusive shop with deli and manned fish and cheese departments, but you basic no frills discount chain. I think their Scandinavian importer has done some serious salesmanship here.

They are not on the shelves of every REMA 1000 shop yet. If it’s not in your local shop, ask them to add it to their range.

It’s a red and fruity ale, packed with citrus hops. Quite a contrast to the bland lagers they usually carry.

Alpha Dog

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Adrian Tierney-Jones writes about CAMRA’s dilemma at his Called to the Bar blog. He sums up the present British beer scene brilliantly:

Keg isn’t the devil, it’s bad keg that’s the frightener.

Go over there and read!

As long as the beer is good!

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While January is a tough month in many ways, the Norwegian Vinmonopolet makes the days a little brighter for beer lovers.

25 new beers are in the list of beverages on sale this Saturday. Some of them are being relaunched, some are pale lagers, but the overall quality of this is very impressive.

Belgian Geuze, Italian micros, new beers from Haandbryggeriet and Nøgne ø, Rip Tide and Punk IPA from BrewDog at reasonable prices (for Norway, that is!) as well as decent stuff from England and the US.

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A penguin for Christmas?

If BrewDog have sold out, at the time of writing this, you can still get it at a very decent price from beermerchants. No Utopias style inflation driving prices here. Tell them I sent you.

Update: It seems like they are sold out as well.

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I had no plans to go out drinking last night. There are domestic things to do before Christmas, and there are events coming up over the next days as well. But when I saw the invite posted on one of the beer forums, I knew I had to go.  Lars Marius and Geir Ove had announced their presence as well.

The event was a BrewDog tasting, arranged by their importers and led by none less than James, co-founder of the brewery. I’d go along to have a chat, even if he just presented their lagers. 

But there was more, this was the beer line up:


Punk IPA 

Rip Tide 

Tactical nuclear Penguin 

Nanny State 

I’d had most of them, but the last two are among those who really get the coverage in the beer blogsphere right now. Nanny State has just 1,1% alcohol (but a million bitterness units), while the Tactical Nuclear Penguin has 32%.  Yes. Thirtytwo per cent. Alcohol by volume.

I’ll skip the notes on their more regular beers for now and jump to the last two and most interesting beers: 

The Tactical Nuclear Penguin started out as a 10% imperial stout, similar to their Paradox series. It was the aged 8 months in an Isle of Arran whisky cask and another 8 months in an Islay cask. The beer was then transported to an ice cream factory and stored at minus 20 degrees. Thereafter, in several stages, some of the frozen water content was removed, leaving a liquid with concentrated flavour and alcohol. 

The nose is of smoke, tar and chocolate. The first sip reveals treacle, tar and rope. Strong warming alcohol. Yet there is an intense hoppiness, too, which justifies its claim that it is a beer. There is liquorice, salt and brandy, with a finish of smoke and fire. 

What do I make of this? It is taking the intensity of their whisky aged beers even further, and I applaud the way these guys are playful and inventive. And it is a real pleasure to sip, at least if you appreciate their other whisky barrel beers.

Will this be a major trend in the industry? Hardly. I won’t go into the technical details about what makes a beer and when it is no longer considered a beer. That’s for others to quarrel over, and that discussion is, of course, a part of BrewDogs strategic marketing. This is never going to be a mass market drink, but both the quality and the hype will ensure that there will be a long line of both tickers, collectors and drinkers making sure it will sell out fast. And while, as James pointed out, it is expensive compared to vodka of the same strength, it is priced nowhere like the Samuel Adams Utopias.

So, I’d be happy to have a few bottles of this at the back of my beer shelf aside the Dark Horizon beers. But it’s for rare occasions, not for weekly consumption. Because with all this concentrated flavour, aroma – and alcohol – it lacks the refreshing drinkability, which, ultimately, is what you want from an everyday beer. But it’s a wonderful addition to the range of beers to have for special occasions. And it makes a great gift! 

The power of the hops is shown by the beer that rounded off the tasting, Nanny State at just above one percent alcohol. I tried this in London the other week, so I knew what was coming. 

This is a barely fermented hop concentrate, with IBUs way beyond what human senses can detect. It’s intense bitterness stays in the mouth for a long time. It’s a novelty beer, and I doubt it will be up to much if its aged. 

I think Nanny State’s main importance is that it also moves boundaries, and a logical next step is to create some balanced, yet flavourful low alcohol beers. 

After the tasting, there was time for a chat with James and his Norwegian importer. The Punk IPA and Rip Tide will be launched in the Vinmonopolet stores in Norway in January, and there will be new BrewDog beers available in March and May as well. Hopefully there will be some beers available on keg during the year, the disposable kegs used by the Norwegian craft breweries seem to function well. 

The main markets for BrewDog are the UK, the US and Sweden, but Norway has a good potential. Look out for a BrewDog/Nøgne ø/Mikkeller collaboration next year – I’d like to reserve a few bottles right away! 

Meet the brewer

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kassalapp polet

When news got out that Nøgne ø had received some whisky casks from their Scottish friends at BrewDog, the expectations were high in the Norwegian beer community.

I won’t bore you with details about the Norwegian state monopoly for alcohol once more, but there is a kind of loophole. If you know that there is a beer available at a registered brewery, you can make a special order. In practice, this means you have to order a minimum of a 12 bottle box, but there is a possibility of ordering a mixed box as well if the brewery is willing.

Well, when word got out that Nøgne ø had bottled the whisky cask versions of both their Imperial Stout and their Christmas beers, the special orders started flowing in. There are only 1500 bottles in total of the Imperial Stout, which means that a significant part must have been sold in this manner, leaving little for general distribution in other countries. Read: Pick this up if you can!

I placed an order in the middle of September, but Nøgne ø had not anticipated the demand, so we all had to wait for bottle labels to be printed.

I got a text message last week that my order was ready to be picked up, and yesterday afternoon I arrived to get my five boxes. Well, they were not all for me. Five of us made a joint order, and we threw in some bottles of their new barley wine as well.

With some leftovers from the Christmas beer tasting last Friday, the beer shelves in the basement are filled beyond their limit. Which means I’ll have to try out the newcomers. But I’ll try to wait until Friday.

Thanks to Per Christian for the photo.

Esker på polet

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