This isn’t somethind I’ve done before – but today, as I’m going to a brewery for a visit and tasting session, I figured I’d write about it a little differently. Instead of the hastily thrown-together hodge-podge after the fact, why not cheat time itself and throw things together as they happen? So today, from now until the moment I drop, I’ll be liveblogging the day; where I end up, what I drink, and who I talk to. I have no idea how this will go…
01:51 – So, how to sum up? Well, BrewDog have such a following that it’s often easy to use that to influence your opinion; whether you share their stance or it repels you. But having spent time in Ellon, Aberdeen (and before that, Fraserburgh), those two polarising viewpoints just don’t seem to apply anymore. Yes, BrewDog still revel in being anti-establishment, and the small guys. But they have grown to such a huge extent – and are continuing to do so – that they are, if not now related to that establishment, are at least perched somewhere on the mantlepiece. And you know what? This is a good thing.
It’s a horrible phrase, but the ‘journey’ they have taken has been a benchmark for Scottish beer, and British brewing. And the most significant of all? It’s been a benchmark for the people who work at BrewDog; and when you talk to them, that’s what you hear, time and time again. Not a repeated marketing stance; as one of their brewers told us as we left c.a.s.c – ‘it’s all about making great beer. And all the lads and lasses who work here are in for that.’
01:36 – haha, ‘this post was published 20 hours ago’ – thanks, WordPress. So, although c.a.s.c didn’t have wifi, it did have some spectacular beer – not least draught Sierra Nevada Torpedo, which is not something I’ve seen before.
23:30 – but Carrie will have to wait. Samantha and the rest of us are going to c.a.s.c.
23:27 – some have left to do Karaoke. I can see myself summing up like Carrie Bradshaw soon. But really, don’t we just all want to enjoy good beer?
23:10 – tastes like win
22:41 – 13yo cask strength Highland Park aged in bourbon barrels. By the Hammer of Thor
22:25 – here comes the Paradox!
22:17 – there is simply nothing better than beer and cheese. Merlot? Pfft…
22:11 – flagging a little, tbh. Hoping that freebasing dairy will give me a spark…
22:01 – cheese board up next, Tokyo raisin bread and Magic Stone Dog. Lots to enjoy, goodness.
21:17 – and here it comes, sticky toffee black eyed king imp trifle. Oomph
21:07 – the menu says next up is a trifle. Now nobody made a better trifle, ever, than my Grandad. A lifetime teetotaller, he raided my Nana’s considerable sherry stash to get the balance of his perfectly right. The secret, as with wifi passwords, is bananas…
20:57 – the beer, ahem, is U Boat – which is really rather good. Did I mention I’ve been doing this for fifteen hours. Although there is sticky toffee trifle next, so hold back those tears shed on my behalf…
20:53 – Ok, the photos have died under the tombstone of the dreaded http error. That’s a shame, as this p-f grouse, smoked celeriac, bacona and leek jus looks fantastic. Why would you not want to see a leek jus? What can a leek jus? Anything it wants. #boom
20:48 – is there a better aroma than pan fried grouse?
20:25 – that photo may not have worked, but I have been wrestling with WordPress on a mobile bloody phone since 6am. It was a photo of a piece of salmon and a small pear next to a beer. You can do it. Main course next!
20:02 – apologies for the phrase ‘really down with’…
19:59 – really down with this batch of IHU, it’s just fantastic.
19:40 – pig cheek bon bon, pig’s ear saladand beery bbq sauce. Paired with I Hardcore You. This is something else, if ever you wanted a fatty dish, and a full-hopped beer to cut through said fat, this it it. Or rather, this is them.
19:35 – first Musa course, here we go!
19:10 – Musa has the best wifi password ever
18:55 – that beer was 8 Wired rewired, and it has gone. To Musa!
18:45 – been bought a half just as we have to leave. Some craft drinking coming up!
18:30 – having another, it’s that good. Time to head to Musa soon…
17:26 – back on it, with Dead Pony Club. Just a brilliant beer.
16:37 – Back in the Granite City, just time to augment the blog with a few photos, and it’s off for beers and then a paired tasting dinner at Musa. I’m not done with the liveblog, though, I’ll still be parroting away with what’s going on. In the meantime, here’s that photo of the herring boat in Arbroath, as promised (it seems like a long time ago)…
15:23 – the tasting done, it’s time to head back to Aberdeen. Once I get cushioned by the wonders of hotel wifi, I will add a load of photos, so this post looks less like the BBC vidiprinter (RIP).
15:15 – lots of talk about upcoming bars; the Dalston beer academy looks like being very near to a reality.
14:59 – that’s it for the tasting, aside from the bottles of Brixton Porter that have appeared…
14:51 – “Tokyo will last longer than most humans.”
14:50 – It has a best-before date of 2024, as ten years is as big a margin as their labelling machine will do.
14:45 – next up in the tasting, Black Eyed King Imp. Is there ever a bad time for a 12% Russian imperial stout? “A velvet glove caressing the tongue,” says James, which is a great, if slightly disturbing, analogy.
14:41 – Martin answers a question on how they deal with BrewDog’s popularity “I can’t go into Tescos without being mobbed.”
14:40 – Martin is off to the Yakima Valley in two weeks for ‘the annual rub and sniff’
14:38 – each large-tank batch of Jackhammer contains half a ton of dry hops. No wonder they need a cannon.
14:36 – Martin says the beer that they make now that he is proudest of is Dead Pony. A Swedish blogger asks if they can drop the abv by 0.3% so it can bypass Systembolaget.
14:29 – next up, BrewDog’s take on a US West Coast IPA, Jackhammer. Columbus, Centennial, Amarillo, Citra and Simcoe. “You should be able to start tasting it over the other side of the room,” says Martin.
14:25 – here’s a fact: one in every 2,700 beers drunk in the UK is made by BrewDog. James wants to build on this, as it’s still way behind the big boys.
14:24 – “we wanted to get people drinking beer for the experience, not the effect,” says James.
14:22 – the number one influence on Punk was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale…
14:20 – the answer, predictably enough, is that it was time for a change and they are happy with it, even if some on Facebook aren’t.
14:18 – James asks for Punk IPA questions, the first one “what’s with the new packaging?”
14:12 – James says 65% of their beer goes overseas.
14:07 – First beer up in the tasting, Punk IPA, as that’s where they started. It was also the beer that opened up their biggest market; Sweden
14:03 – a plug socket! Wonderous!
13:51 – in unrelated news, I now have 11% battery. Which is a shame as the beer tasting is set to begin
13:38 – just asked Stuart when BrewDog’s growth will plateau; he just puffed out his cheeks. I then asked if, when he started at BrewDog, if he would ever have envisioned having 24 people in tge brewteam, and the bearded cheeks puffed a second time.
13:26 – whenever I have a pie that’s been made with beer, it’s always a challenge to try to pick the beer out, I think. Mind you, it’s not like I’m an amateur in that regard. Conversation at the table currently revolving around how to get hold of tequila barrel chips for homebrew…
13:24 – I’m not sure #LivePieBlogging is a thing, but that’s what we’re up to at the moment.
13:20 – or ‘Star Wars’ Risk.
13:13 – you would guessed if there was one brewery tap that had complementary beard conditioner in the toilets, it would be here…
13:07 – speaking of Punk, I am now drinking a bottle fresh off the bottling line. So there’s that.
13:05 – although the first beer through will probably be Punk IPA, to calibrate the equipment..
13:02 – Confirmed that the Dog Tap pilot kit will be used for a programme of sours.
12:53 – the inevitable question of hazy beer arises at the filtration unit. Stuart equates the debate over the merits of fined or unfined beer to the debate over stouts and porters.
12:50 – A moth just flew past me, flying slightly erratically.
12:44 – We’re being given hints that the pilot kit in Dog Tap has been kept separate from the main brewhouse deliberately. Why would you need this? Hmm… sours?
12:40 – “Its a great view from the top, but I’ve lost a few hats up there,” says Stuart.
12:30 – BrewDog have 13,800 hectolitres of maturation space, which includes three colossal 800hectolitre tanks. They have another fifteen on order. They all take Punk, which accounts for 56% of BrewDog’s total production.
12:16 – BrewDog use three strains of yeast, depending on what’s about to be fermented.
12:14 – “60% of what we do is cleaning,” says Stuart. “We use shit, we clean it and we start again.”
12:08 – It must be hard to do lab work when a dozen people are staring at you…
12:03 – But you get the feeling the thing they are most proud of is their lab, and thr upcoming gas chromatography unit.
11:58 – BrewDog are extremely proud of their ‘5th vessel’ – a lauter tun that helps them shift their total of 80,000 litres of wort in 24hrs.
11:50 – BrewDog’s combined malt mills weigh 70 tonnes, and like the Rolec brewing vessels, were made in Germany. Designed to take 2 tonnes, at a conservative German estimate, they have had 2.9t in although the bottom split. “You have to test the limits of your equipment” says Stuart, with a grin.
11:40 – Tour time, ably led by Stuart Bowman. No actual brewing in the pipeline today. Doesn’t lesson the impact of this place though.
11:33 – Yeah, so I went for coffee in the end; I figure there’ll be enough saucetime upcoming
11:14 – Coffee or beer? Hmm
11:08 – Taxi whispers worked a treat, and here we are at BrewDog’s Ellon spaceship. Also, crucially, a plug socket as five hours of middling liveblogging has depleted 70% of my battery…
10:26 – Taxi driver never heard of BrewDog. Winds down his window and asks colleague at traffic lights. “It’s by the Tesco”
10:16 – Some minor hanging about at Aberdeen station. Next up, a moderate taxi ride. I think you can all giess where to 😉
09:57 – And here we are, bang on time and with what’s left of the Scotrail wifi router smoking under the carriage.
09:45 – Somewhere else I’ve never got off this train; Stonehaven. Would be nice to visit the Marine Hotel and SIX°NORTH. Also, there’s a golf course there that looks like it’s been stapled to the cliffs. Anyway, next stop, Aberdeen…
09:11 – Clinging to a weak 3G signal in Montrose, where the station seems to be on both sides of the river at once. I took a lovely photo of a smokie boat off the coast of Arbroath; I’ll upload it later when some degree of wifi has been re-established…
08:46 – You know, I’ve only ever been to Dundee once, and that was to an ultimate frisbee tournament.
08:34 – Yep, Scotrail wifi has lunched itself. Ah well. Now ricketing over the Tay Bridge, silvered streaks running up the estuary as far as I can see, Dundee looking very pleasant in the unusual August sunshine.
I guess everyone knows where I’m going, by now. No, not Brewmeister.
08:24 – Just coming up to Leuchars, the station that always confuses tourists. “So where’s the golf at?” – as if they imagine there’s a station right alongside the 18th fairway at St Andrews.
in other news, notification popped up saying ‘your wifi connection is unstable’ Ah.
07:44 – This is the direction I’m heading; north, over the glittering Forth Estuary on the iconic – and it really is iconic – Forth Bridge. Back in my marine biology days (a lifetime ago, now) we’d head down to Port Edgar and head off on the MV Forth Ranger, to scoop up Agassiz trawls of gloopy mud and unfortunate critters. There was a time when I’d been under the bridge more times than I’d been over it.
06:01am – This is too early, surely?