Well, the dust seems to have settled slightly around the blogosphere following the latest announcement from Fraserburgh’s BrewDog a few days ago. I’ve been reading as many articles on the forthcoming Sink the Bismarck (41%) as I can, and have been digesting the various opinions on the Aberdeenshire twosome re-taking the strongest beer in the world title. Seeing as we’re a Scottish-based beer website, it would be remiss of us not to add to the collective murmuring. We’re big fans of BrewDog here – mostly – and have written about them on many an occasion. In fact, they have been tagged more on the BeerCast than any other brewery, which is no doubt a reflection on their forward-thinking marketing and ideas.
But have they gone too far with their latest stunt? Stunt is definately the word, James Watt has admitted they wanted to get back at the German Schorschbrau for out-trumping the 32% Tactical Nuclear Penguin with a 40% ‘Schorschbock’. You can read our thoughts on TNPenguin here, and it clearly divided opinion. Personally I liked the dark, rough smokiness but at the time wasn’t sure of the target market – which obviously holds for Sink the Bismarck. I think BrewDog are in danger of flying too close to the sun here – a Teutonic tit for tat is harmless enough (the director of Schorschbrau has said he thinks the whole thing is hilarious), provided of course it doesn’t interfere with their other beers.
BrewDog do some outstanding beers – they just seem to be pushed into the periphery by the charging press releases about TNP and now Bismarck, together with the ongoing feud with the Portman Group and the frankly embarrassing self-complaint over Tokyo*. Stick to what you do best boys, please. Atlantic IPA, Punk IPA, Trashy Blonde are all outstanding. These should be the core beers they shout about. When the mischievous glint appears in their collective eye, you end up with things like Nanny State (1.1%), or the objectionable How to Disappear Completely (3,000 IBU’s). Their collaborations with Stone have produced some interesting results – Bashah went down really well. Hopefully there’ll be more in the offing from that partnership.
The key to all this is publicity. BrewDog’s share option is due to close at 11pm tomorrow (the 19th), and at first it was really struggling. Headlines in the majority of British papers and practically every beer website (including this one, now – fashionably late as ever) can only help their cause in tempting investors. In a post on the Beer Advocate forum, James wrote that they had dispensed with any PR representation in December – so clearly they feel they’ve got the hang of this publicity thing. I wouldn’t bet against them, that’s for sure. They managed to reach their minimum target for subscribers, and hopefully will do well from the flotation. Plus they piss off the Daily Mail, which is never a bad thing.
So we’ll have to see how Sink the Bismarck does – I’d love to give it a go, but it’s £10 more expensive per bottle than even TNPenguin, so maybe a special occasion might tempt me to get the BeerCast wallet out. The name is a bit tasteless, they could have gone with any of several ways to poke fun at the Germans – but by all accounts the beer is a massive hop hit. Which I imagine it would be if they quadruple-hopped it. For me, the recent news that they are relaunching Hardcore IPA is something more enticing – their (paltry by comparison) 9% staple was re-thought after some consideration, which is great as it was pretty good beforehand. Humility and 41%abv in the same paragraph? Can only be BrewDog…
…oh, and the rivalry with Germany is set to continue – Schorschbrau MD Georg Tscheuschner has said they have a response in mind…“We’ll just brew another, stronger one,” he said. “Forty-five percent shouldn’t be a problem and we have beer enthusiasts waiting for it.” Who’s going to be first to 50%?