Hi folks, Andy here, the BeerCast’s chief non-beer beer drinker in chief. I’m most often to be found shoveling coal into the BeerCast’s servers and mending the website’s rss feeds with string, but recently i had the unexpected pleasure of being in Bristol for the opening of BrewDog’s newest bar and drinking some actual beer.
Love them or loathe them BrewDog have made an undeniable impact on the UK’s beer scene in short order since their founding in 2006. Taking a leaf out of Apple’s tree, they’ve been on a tear recently opening up their own bars to sell their own beer thus effectively controlling every aspect of the experience from tun to tap, or barrel to bar, or.. i’ll stop there. I believe in business circles this is known as ‘vertical integration’ or ‘owning the stack’ or in Scottish parlance ‘dain it ‘a yersel’.
In typical fashion the opening of BrewDog’s bar in Bristol was no low-key affair. It was as loud and proud as the brand itself and coincided with Bristol’s annual ‘Zombie Walk‘, a surprisingly good natured celebration of the undead. Bristol’s streets were awash with zombie lego men, cindarella’s, nurses and even undead dogs all dancing to dub step booming out across King’s Square.
There are some photos here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151261800215306.525722.539775305&type=1
One thing i really liked about the new BrewDog bar in Bristol was it’s service of 1/3 pints. This was something i first encountered at the opening of the new Southern Bar on Edinburgh’s South Clerk Street a couple of years ago with the rest of the BeerCast crew.
Ordering thirds allows you to really sample all that a bar has to offer and the BrewDog staff were keen to explain the flavour and processes behind each of the beers we tried.
At some point in proceedings we were ushered outside to witness the arrival of a very special barrel of beer. It arrived on a boat, sailed down the canal just outside the bar and sang onto land by a trio of hale and hearty crewmen singing sea shanties. It was quite a spectacle and was one of those rare moment when British people spontaneously begin speaking to each other. It was a stunt but it was nicely done and gave a sense of occasion to the opening.
The keg was cracked open and it’s contents were poured for the whole bar, Punk IPA, BrewDog’s signature IPA on the house.
The glasses of Punk IPA sloshing round the bar were for a toast, BrewDog co-founder James Watt jumped up on the bar and gave a sermon to his flock on the passions and founding ideals of the company. It was quite a rousing speech, I caught most of it on camera here.
As i mentioned in the opening i’m not really a beer drinker, the BeerCast has opened my eyes and my mouth to the incredible range of beers out there. I have to say though i was impressed with the beers we tried at this opening and i was impressed with the passion of the speech the founder gave. BrewDog rail against the mass-produced bland beers of yore, the unthinking zombiefied masses reaching for Stella in pubs up and down the country. Ironic then that this upstart company should choose a zombie walk, a celebration of the undead as the day to launch it’s new bar on.
I know there are folks out there who don’t like what BrewDog do, their approach, their brash branding but, as bar openings go i had a great time.