Brewdog is a Scottish brewery/beer bar chain that is controversial (and wildly successful) in Scotland. They’re lively and funny and they make painfully hoppy American-style beers. They use 100% Scottish malt, which I think is pretty cool. Last year they grew revenues by 95% and added six more beer bars for a total of ten. Controversial or not, they’re doing just fine.
In Scotland, beer consumption is also doing pretty well, unlike the U.S. where total consumption increased 1% 2011-2012 (though craft beer consumption was up 15% by volume). In Scotland international contract brewing is declining, and micro/craft brewers are sprouting almost like mushrooms, offering a wide range of flavors. You can get a beer just about anywhere there’s food, and even where the selection is small it’s diverse. There’s so much quality brewing going on that there’s really no room for tasteless, middle-of-the-road, focus-group-selected beer. In this BrewDog and I are in complete accord.
Brewdog does some creative and entertaining stuff with their marketing. I love their videos. There was this time they brewed a beer under the sea. In Scotland, your only choices are the Atlantic or North Sea, both freakin’ cold. BrewDog is based in Aberdeen so it was probably the North Sea. So, naturally, the BD brewers added some sea salt and sea buckthorn berries** to make it themeworthy, and used a lager yeast. They thought if they were going to treat their beer like a sailor they could at least add some rum to keep it company. They mixed it all up, drove the poor doomed fermenter to the coast, and dumped it over the side into the cold, cold sea. I’m told it’s about 10C under there, about 50 degrees, though honestly that’s loads warmer than I expected. It didn’t go too too deep, but it was deep enough that it took a scuba diver to rig the fermenter so it could be hauled back out. Probably fell on a sea ledge or something. Anyway, after two weeks they pulled up a battered but intact fermenter and took it back to Brewdog. The result? Sunk Punk IPA.
Some day I’m going to cover beer made in an Atlantis Deep Sea Research base a zillion miles under the ocean. That will be so cool. Until then, Sunk Punk it is.
**Sea buckthorn berries are very high in Vitamin C content and definitely edible, though darned astringent and kinda oily. They’re best eaten “bletted” (my new word of the day, means frosted) to reduce astringency and then mixed in with something sweeter.