January 7th, 2013Desert Island Beers
As soon as he could legally drink beer Dean Pugh joined Wetherspoons and has showed no signs of his passion for malt and hops diminishing since then. Especially for hops.
Dean undertook Wetherspoons management training after leaving university, and in 2007 joined York Brewery, helping them to open their first pub outside the old city walls, Mr Foley’s Cask Ale House in Leeds.
Dean grew ‘Foley’s’ from scratch, managing it from new kid on the block to Leeds Pub of the Year in 2009 (as voted for by the local brand of CAMRA). Set in a grade-II listed building opposite the iconic Leeds Town Hall, the pub has become a magnate for geeks of all kinds, whether that’s football (telly screens and comfy sofas), beer aficionados (bottles and cask ales aplenty) or weekend art critics (the bar is a stone throw from Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute).
Dean was integral in encouraging the growth of beer lovers in Leeds, with Foley’s well known as a place to find well kept real ale and interesting bottled beer from around the globe. Under Dean’s stewardship Foley’s has hosted many beer focused events, from Meet The Brewer evening with the local lads at Summer Wine or Kirkstall, to making Leeds centre stage in the UK celebration of IPA Day. Most recently Foley’s hosted a lunch with Garrett Oliver as he toured the UK at which Radio 4 were present to interview Garrett and the beer bloggers of Leeds.
Sadly after five years Dean hung up his boots at Foley’s and jumped onto the BrewDog ship, becoming manager of the all new BrewDog bar in Manchester. The people of Leeds have lost a good man, even if he is (undeniably) as passionate about Sunderland FC as he is about beer.Tags: BrewDog, leeds, manchester, radio 4, summer wine
March 23rd, 2012Pubs & bars
The blue logo can be seen for hundreds of yards. The windows that look out onto Hockley’s student-filled streets, opposite a tea room, cinema and acclaimed bistro, are plastered with huge crest shaped decals, archetypal generation Nike branding for a Starbuck’s influenced post-modern brand experience.
B R E W D O G
Reminiscent of the type of industrial themed sandwich shop found in downtown Prague or New York’s Soho, but with added chutzpah and a munificence for self-promotion, Brewdog Nottingham is a play centre for beer enthusiasts and anyone wanting something a little less serious from their atypical late night bar.
Like a sixth-form common room with a twist of intoxication and a desire to scare even the hardiest of wallets (the Japanese beer does not come cheap!) the formiddable brick building – once a factory but now housing flats and a restaurant as well as the bar – has been given an extra lease of life with BrewDog’s assertive style.
Wood and metal cover the industrially scarred walls which fleetingly appear in the entrance as a brutalist reminder of the history of this space. Unfussy wooden tables and benches circuit the room, gunmetal casks (branding BrewDog of course) are foot stools.
Borrowing from a hybrid of Ikea/Habitat urban chic and a dash of the school gymnasium (no really, try the recycled seat covers) this is a bar with equal amounts of character and faux-sawdust pretension.
Not that anyone meeting here gives two hoots about that because it’s a more than suitable environment for drinking beer and breaking bread. The high ceilings are filled with debate, discussion and de-briefing from the working week, perhaps even a frantic Friday night out, all sat sipping Punk IPAs and picking at mixed olives.
Brash as the BrewDog brand can be, Saturday afternoon in BrewDog Nottingham is relaxed. There’s cheekiness rather than petulance in their chalkboard real ale bashing (we sit beneath notices that read “Open mic night”…”don’t be shy”… “no CAMRAs”).
And of the beer? Well it’s uncompromising. Hops dominate, BrewDog and their favourite breweries steal the show and if you want to dive into the bottled beer fridge and share a meat platter, expect little change from an Adam Smith.
The acid test, would I go back? I guess the post-brand experience must have done the trick… despite the stupid Robin Hood PR stunt.Tags: BrewDog, nottingham
When Sarah’s first words on sipping a beer are “Woahhh!” then you know you’ve cracked open a bottle of something special.
I also opted for a “Woahhh!” like sound when I sniffed this BrewDog/Mikkeller collaboration from 2009. Wow.
“It doesn’t taste like beer” Sarah adds when she takes a tentative taste. Nope, indeed it doesn’t. Devine Rebel is all toffee and brandy with the volume turned up to Maxwell advert levels. “It’s more like that horrible Metaxa stuff!” Sarah declares. Yep, it kinda is, and that’s fitting as we are harnessing it’s opulent bouquet in a voluptuous brandy snifter.
The aroma – all syrupy, brown sugar coated alcohol – snakes out of the glass, and the taste similarly slides down the throat, reiterating the dominance of ethanol and reinforcing it’s similarities with a spirit rather than a beer. Only it’s texture, slimy as opposed to the silky smoothness of expensive wines or whiskies, makes you realise this is something else altogether.
As if Devine Rebel 2009 wasn’t enough of a kick in the head – at 12% alcohol dominates the sensory glands – there’s a 2010 version to kick us whilst we’re down.
It’s a rock ‘n’ roll rebellion we’re told, although aged in wooden whisky casks and toasted on French oak chips, Mikkeller/BrewDog Devine Rebel 2010 has a little more of the mature Mick Jagger to it than the legs akimbo Rolling Stones of the late 60s and early 70s…
The younger versions additional wood conditioning is noticeable, not that it imparts a sense of age or oak, but enhances the medicinal content, consolidating the sterile single malt taste and adding a point of reference to what is a multifarious beer. It pours a deep orange-red-brown hazy syrup of beer, lined with wispy foam, that leaves a string of fire in your throat. You feel like you’ve just gone 88 mph and dunked your head in a flux capacitator. Luckily you don’t end up in 1955, but you’re head might just drop off your neck if you knock this back too quickly.
Whether you fancy sampling the 2009 version or the 2010 gyle (or both!), sip, savour and enjoy the complex flavours: it’s an alcoholic desert, a pungent nightcap: brandy, whisky, cigars made of peat, a lick of chocolate, a dash of balsamic vinegar; a heavy brown tonic to knock you into the twilights hours and possibly lose you a few hours of your life.
Beer: Devine Rebel
Brewery: Mikkeller / BrewDog
Style: Barley wine
Country: Scotland (and Denmark)
Beer: Devine Rebel 2010
Brewery: Mikkeller / BrewDog
Style: Barley wine
Country: Scotland (and Denmark)
Tags: Barley wine, BrewDog, devine rebel, mikkeller, oak aged, whisky
Devine Rebel is a collaborative beer brewed by the enigmatic Mikel from Mikkeller, a brewery of no fixed abode. Putting him up for a few nights the Devine Rebel beers were created a BrewDog’s brewery facilities in Fraserburgh. Both the 2009 and 2010 versions are singled hopped malt beverages in the barley wine style (Nelson Sauvin being the hops of choice) and fermentation was aided by champagne yeast. Both were partially aged in whisky casks. So by all accounts they are not your average beers!
5am Saint was one of BrewDog’s less controversial PR stunts. The beer simply didn’t have a name, until ‘Adrian’ popped up on their blog and selected this little gem.
I’d love to carry on the heaven/hell theme that led to the colour of the label, but 5 am Saint is neither angel nor devil. In fact it took me a while to think of it as anything special at all. Of course, it is fundamentally better than picking up a tin of Grolsch from the supermarket…
Some beers simply burst out of the bottle. Some need coaxing and barely deserve the glass.
5am Saint is the former, brimming with energy and instant flavour, as our most BrewDog bottles (but not casks!). Fresh fruit smash your nose via some rock n’ roll hops, smacking you tastebuds into submission. The fruits are floral and fruity; the bitterness is sharp, cutting through the modest malt. Nectarines, roses and summer fruit sorbet turn my nose inside out. This is pleasant in the best possible sense of the word.
This is the 5th or 6th botle of 5am Saint I’ve tried, and it’s by far ‘the best’, full of vigour and flavour. If you try hard enough there’s essences of citrus and herbs (go on, try hard, let your imagination go wild!)
Enthusiasm aside, 5 am Saint still isn’t a beer I’d buy all the time. It took a few bottles and the perfect temperature to achieve the smorgasbord of flavour we knew it was hiding, and even then whilst it’s interesting it’s not satisfying or balanced in the way my favourite beers are.
5am’s perfect place is along side the barbecue beers reserved for chilling low and coolling down on when Britain managed to snatch a day or two of really hot sunshine each year. The colour of the label is probably apt as it’s the perfect partner for the day when you worship the little white ball in the sky, only to return to work on Monday with bright red marks around the fringes of your clothing and a hangover because you stayed up until summer sunrise.
Tags: 5am Saint, BBQ, BrewDog, summer
Beer: 5am Saint
Style: Amber Ale
Statuesque lager the label says.
So why is it almost entirely made of the sweat of digestive biscuits? This beer personifies Hobnobs on holiday without a care in the world, sucking lemons and painting the town red with the blood of hops. Think Holsten Pills brewed by McVities with all the ingredients on steroids. Nothing prepared me for the sweet and fruity injection or the flurry of malt near the end, malted barley rushing with blazing blues and twos to counter the whopping astringency that punches you in the face when you take a sip.
Funny how Hop Rocker slipped off the radar, because this beer is BrewDog through and through.Tags: bbq beer, biscuits, BrewDog, hop rocker, Lemon
Are you a huge hop head? Do you crave Humulus Lupulus in your sleep? Maybe you even struggle to wake up after a few “double IPAs” and a night asleep on a hop pillow?!
Well one Oxfordshire brewer has taken on the challenge to create the world’s bitterest beer, and his strategy: yeah you guessed it, he’s thrown a silly amount of hops into his brew.
Pete Fowler of the Pitstop Brewery near Wantage rose to the occasion after a friend reckoned he couldn’t match the bitterness of US craft beers, and in Mr Fowler’s words ‘that was like red rag to a bull’. The beer (or barley wine) has over £100s worth of hops plus additional hop additives for one 9 barrel keg of the beer compared to a usual £5 worth.
Bearing in mind the brewer himself hasn’t tried it yet and is expecting it to be in the region of 500 IBUs* (a theoretical number which scares the pants of my tastebuds) it raises interesting questions on innovation (or should I say ‘innovation’).
Is this an ‘extreme beer’? Or is it simply a boisterous take on the traditional British bitter, tongue in cheek and one finger up to the extremists? Or just a bit of fun?!Tags: bitter, bitterness, BrewDog, IBUs, pitstop brewery
BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin Tasting at North Bar, Leeds
One of the best things I’ve found about living in Leeds, or a larger city for that matter, is the variety of events that take place that you don’t always find in less adventurous urban areas (maybe I was just brought up in a particularly boring town?!).
In the three years I’ve made Yorkshire’s modern capital my home, I’ve enjoyed Leeds International Film Festival, the West Indian Carnival, the Christkindelmarkt, a couple of League One Play Off Semi Finals and (less fortunately) a huge Robbie Williams concert at Roundhay Park (don’t ask) and countless other dates in the diary that are a feature of dwelling in a cosmopolitan city.
As well as these large scale events it’s actually the smaller opportunities that appeal to me most: being able to see Almodovar films in the ancent Hyde Park Picture house, attending a Flying Dog beer and food evening and the chance to see actual rock stars whilst playing 5-a-side (if you classify relatively obscure post-rock bands as rock stars!).
So when Zak Avery asked me if I’d like to take part in a live video tasting of the newly released and lavishly expensive Tactical Nuclear Penguin by BrewDog, the strongest beer in the world, not only did I jump at the chance but I carved another notch on my list of reasons to live in Leeds… Read the rest of this entry »Tags: BrewDog, hopzine, leeds, north bar, tactical nuclear penguin, zak avery
December 8th, 2009Comment
It feels like I’ve been writing about these Sainsbury’s beers for a long time. To be fair it is, but once I’d started I wasn’t giving up!
The actual competition finished quite a while ago, and it’s probably a good idea to round up what happened.
In 2008, Sainsbury’s first launched their beer competition. Breweries provided the supermarket giant with their finest new ales, a selection of which would make it through to the final, where the beers would find themselves in stock and on sale in stores nationwide.
The top selling beers would win a nice big order from the Sainsbury’s to be stocked on a permanent basis, a veritable cash cow and holy grail for many brewers.
The first year saw Bath Ales Barnstormer and Doctor Okells IPA (both very good!) take the title.
This year Scottish brewers dominated the challenge, with no less than 7 of the 15 finalists in stores across the country coming from the industrious BrewDog and their contemporaries the brothers William.Tags: bath ales, birds and bees, BrewDog, chaos theory, golden hare, sainsburys, williams brothers
BrewDog Chaos Theory
Complexity in the universe is often based on simple, fundamental rules. We don’t know all of the rules but we understand some of them; however despite this, life is still, at our level, an unpredictable and seemingly random existence.
Chaos theory helps us get our heads around this (and then in the next breath turns our perceptions of ‘thought on its head). It also suggests that systems such as our universe are completely deterministic…in theory. But unfortunately we have to pinpoint the exact starting conditions of the system, which is a little more than tricky when every single tiny particle in our universe system was compacted into an unimaginably small space, a little over 13,700,000,000 years ago (plus or minus about 14 million years!).
This chaotic nature has parallels with the brewing process, where we calculate the mix of initial ingredients, follow strict processes and end up with tasty beer at the end. But we can’t always predict the exact end result and consistency and quality in a brew can be more difficult than just throwing the ingredients together and sticking the heat on.
As you might have guessed there’s a parallel between all this and BrewDog’s last beer in our Sainsbury’s beer competition series. Chaos Theory is an ode to chaos theory (although at 7.1% it doesn’t really help me get my head around the physics much!). Read the rest of this entry »Tags: beer, BrewDog, chaos theory, competition, india pale ale, IPA, sainsburys
A big beer day
Some days just seem to have everything. Big stories, ferocious debate and your own personal news. Such as yesterday…
In the news, BrewDog pulled another stunt, this one making me laugh out loud and actually consider parting with some of my hard earned cash.
Tactical Nuclear Penguin takes beer naming conventions to a new level and pushes the boundaries of beer production. Whether or not it’s any good I might never know (I’m hoping the other Real Ale Reviews lads will chip in for a bottle as I don’t think I can justify getting one just for myself). But thanks to James and Martin for dressing up in silly costumes and brightening up the beer world for a morning.
And to the ferocious debate: Is smoking cool? Smoking may look cool when Paul Newman is hustling and Jean-Paul Belmondo is ambling through Parisian streets but it ain’t always cool when you’re trying to eat your tea or sip a pint (or stand at the bus stop on a windy day folks!). There’s a serious health side to still as well as questions of economy and heritage: will the smoking ban contribute to killing traditional pubs off once and for all?
Who knows, I can understand both sides of the argument – I smoked for a 3 or 4 years from the age of 17, giving up when I went to uni (yes, I know it’s weird that way round) – and I can’t stand the smell now. And I much prefer my clothes not reeking of stale smoke the morning after a night out. But I don’t hate smokers or smoking, I respect people’s choice to do it, and I appreciate smokers who are considerate of non-smokers (just like I appreciate drinkers who don’t smash my wing mirrors off and people who are generally nice). I sure hope that the country is a bit healthier because of the ban – but how can we ensure that it doesn’t impact negatively on our pub culture and people’s personal freedoms?
It’s a debate I almost don’t want to get too involved in as I don’t have the solution, and judging from other posts I’m not sure a unilateral agreement is on the cards! So moving swiftly on…
And then in personal news, we had some unexpected success last night, as Real Ale Reviews were awarded not one, but two commendations in the inaugural Golden Twit awards organised by The Drum magazine… Read the rest of this entry »Tags: adnams, BrewDog, golden twits, penguin, purity, smoking, tactical nuclear penguin, twitter