There’s definitely a reason why BrewDog elicit more conversation and comment than any other Scottish brewer – arguably any other British brewer. Just when you think their last wacky stunt is the peak of ingenuity/madness, within a couple of months there’s another press release, another bizarre and totally pointless beer that enters the market. Anybody who has come across the work of the Fraserburgh twosome will be familiar with the marketing angle they have taken (and well and truly cornered – in the UK at least). The ‘us against them’ mentality (usually the ‘them’ being the Portman Group or the rightwing press, or both), the uncompromising and often nonsensical language on their products.
But underneath all this is the foundation – some very good beers. We’ve been writing about and featuring BrewDog’s output ever since we started (the BeerCast and BrewDog both began life in April 2007). To be honest, they make it very easy to write about them – the attention-grabbing releases, packaging and branding. And they are at it again. Announced today is the zenith of their ‘abv war’ with all and sundry – most notably the German producer Schorschbräu – over who can (or would want to) brew the “beer” with the highest alcohol content. Following in the footsteps of Tactical Nuclear Penguin (32%) and Sink the Bismarck! (41%) is their newest offering The End of History (55%). Oh, and it comes in rather unusual packaging – roadkill.
Yes, for £500 you can acquire a bottle of The End of History inside a real, dead stoat. Splash out another two hundred and get a £700 grey squirrel jacket. I’m guessing the animals are somehow attached to the bottle, and you can’t transfer the stoat to your next 330ml bottle – it would make a talking point at barbecues, after all. The actual beverage inside is Belgian-style blonde infused with juniper and nettles. There’s no mention on the website of how they come about the 55% abv – which is a shame given all the discussion on what constitutes a beer once you get beyond around 25%. But as the whole ethos of BrewDog revolves around fucking the trend, once again their specific brewing methods will get people talking.
Surely there’s no way back from this – where the hell do they go next? Quintuple hopping IPA’s? Making leather-effect bottle labels out of skin flakes from Tom Jones? The trouble with an astonishing stunt like The End of History – which is surely what it can only be – is how you top it. As the name of the beer refers to Francis Fukuyama’s theory of the pinnacle (and therefore end) of evolution, maybe it signals the end of BrewDog’s crazy phase once and for all, not just the end of their abv one-upmanship race with Schorschbräu.
It would be great if they could henceforth stick to what they do best – things like the outstanding Hardcore IPA, Trashy Blonde, 77 lager, Atlantic IPA – now more than ever would be the time to switch to a Stone/Dogfish Head-esque mentality of strong (i.e. 7-12%), flavourful craft beers. Of course, this is pretty much what they do already – it’s just that their fantastic core beers are overshadowed by the stunts. It’s time for BrewDog to flood the market – not with outlandish press releases, but with their everyday beers – to show those people intrigued by the publicity that behind all the self-indulgent controversy there are actually two highly talented brewers.
**UPDATE** All bottles sold out on the first day of release **UPDATE**