Monday, 29 December 2008

Not Part of the Problem


I see our old friends Brewdog are featuring in the newspapers again. Scotland on Sunday has a nice little feature, which you can read here.

It is an interesting and thoughtful piece which doesn't take sides, though I have the feeling that the author doesn't "get" them. One interesting point to me at least is their attitude to CAMRA. They say "that the Campaign For Real Ale holds back beer innovation by their emphasis on a few traditional styles and ABVs ranging from 3.5 to 4.5%. They also claim, huffily, that CAMRA has made it so difficult for them to present their products at festivals they've decide not to bother trying to attend any. "We've got better things to do with our time than worry about whether 200 fat idiots are drinking our beer or not."

Umm. Quite.

As a matter of interest we had one of their beers at our recent Bury Fest. It wasn't difficult.

32 comments:

Tyson said...

Seems a bit odd. Have they had a run in with Camra? I would have thought its members are the most likely to drink their beers, as the ordinary drinker hasn't even heard of them.

Artist formerly known as Wurst said...

Love these guys, Brewdog that is. I find their opinions about CAMRA to be accurate.

Bailey said...

I think it's fair to say that the Brew Dog chaps are fairly expert at whipping up news stories and gaining attention. I suspect they're angling for a "shocking" public row with CAMRA here... clever lads...

There are plenty of strong beers at CAMRA sponsored festivals from what I've seen, though, and certainly more than you get in most pubs in the UK. Possibly the journo getting the wrong end of the stick...?

maeib said...

A lot of decent festivals feature BrewDog so I'm confused at that comment. I'm gonna do my best to get some at Northampton this year.

Anonymous said...

There is a big difference between CAMRA in Scotland and CAMRA in England.

Dubbel said...

It is difficult to get their beers in freeholds this far south. Few have achieved it. I think the comment is fair. There are a lot of stuffy Camra types (but by no means all of us) who wouldn't dream of touching a beer above a relatively modest ABV. Camra should actively embrace innovation of this kind. When was the last time BrewDog featured in What's Brewing or Beer magazine?

Tandleman said...

The less said about these publications the better. They are becoming an embarrassment.

As for Brew Dog, starting to believe your own hype is usually a bad thing. Hope they have their feet on the ground here.

Anonymous said...

I think the comment was aimed firmly at Scottish CAMRA. I have never seen any BrewDog beers at any Scottish CAMRA beer festival.

half_man_half_pint said...

I live near Edinburgh, where 70% of cask beer is drunk in Scotland. I rarely see draught BrewDog beers in pubs here.
I guess they're only interested in the bottled market - especially for export.

Strong beers are not going to find a market in pubs here on draught. They haven't been drunk in quantity for over 90 years (since WWI). Drinkers are only going to have a pint or two at most, probably just a half. If it doesn't sell in quantity then beer will oxidise, so publicans won't stock it.

As for keg beer. Guest beer taps are all hand pumps. There are no guest keg taps. Discerning drinkers won't drink it anyway.

Why do people keep going on about BrewDog's bottled beer anyway?
Way too pasteurised. IPA too dry. Lots of their other beers taste badly of diacetyl.
If I want diacetyl I would drink Deuchars!

Tandleman said...

Not a fan then? I think you do make valuable points about strong cask ale.

What's your take on the anti CAMRA stance?

half_man_half_pint said...

I'm not a big fan of their bottled beer. The few times I've had their cask beer it was OK.

I'm a CAMRA member but don't go to meetings anymore. I work at the CAMRA beer Fest in Edinburgh.
BrewDog didn't supply beer to the festival this year. I heard the excuse was that they had a big export order to fulfill and didn't have any spare beer. As it's the festival that selects the Champion Beer of Scotland, and they are so much into publicity, I would have thought that supplying this fest would be a priority....

As for CAMRA and their comment about "200 fat idiots". There are too many fatties and too many weird folk in CAMRA.

Gazza Prescott said...

They do pale, hoppy beer well but most of the other stuff doesn't do a lot for me. IMO the bottled beer is becoming worse (fizzier, tastes pasteurised now) plus, as has already been said, they have a diacetyl issue with some beers.

Saying that, they're great experimenters which is a good thing in the staid, boring UK beer scene; there are precious few brewers who are willing to try something new and we should embrace their efforts even if we might not like them all.

They love stirring up a riot, as this will surely do; they're not daft when it comes to publicity.

And I agree with them on the CAMRA front entirely.

Paul Garrard said...

"The less said about these publications the better. They are becoming an embarrassment."

Speaking as a member I'm beginning to think CAMRA is becoming a bit of an embarrassment!

Brewdog know that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I've seen their ale on a couple of festival lists that I've attended but it has never been available. I much enjoy Punk IPA which is the only bottled beer I've been able to get.

Anonymous said...

re CAMRA, What's Brewing & 'Beer' mag - I'm curious, what's the issue? Why are they seen as an embarrassment?

(anyone know how often 'Beer' is published? - I didn't get one last month)

As to BrewDog, I've enjoyed both cask & bottled beers in the past (no diacetyl), but as much as I'm no big fan of the Portman group's daft practices, I do think that BrewDog walk a bit of a dodgy tightrope between creativity & really questionable taste - 'wittily' & 'edgily' mixing Class A drug references in with your beer marketing is the kind of thing that I'd hope would be left behind on the pub floor after a drunken late night brain-storming session (or the sort of thing some sh*te alcopop firm would try to pull).

Ditto the need to say that all CAMRA members are fat or idiotic, or suggesting that no-one else in Britain makes any flavourful dynamic beers. Meantime try to tread this line for a while, (smacks of the unnecessary over-egoing of Meantime - initially suggesting that they were the true home of decent UK lager, then later deciding they were also the true home of both IPA & Porter!)

Still they (BrewDog) must really be doing something right, hence proclaiming themselves as Scotland's biggest independent brewer (bigger than Harviestoun! - I'm confused how they manage this on a 10barrel plant, but fair enough). They must have expanded somehow though, as the SIBA site has them offering contract-brewing/bottling facilities up to 140-barrel! - http://www.siba.co.uk/classified.asp - click on contract-brewing)

See You Anon!

John Clarke said...

I have often been puzzled by the reluctance of many CAMRA festivals to offer a decent range of stronger beers. At Stockport we usually have 10 or more beers over 5.5%, this year ranging from 5.9% right up to 11%, with no adverse consequences at all.

I have tried some Brewdog beers and have not been uniformly impressed. I have a feeling that too many people are so dazzled by the daring experimentation that they go on to overlook the qualities of the end products. This can have the adverse consequence that the producers of these beers can then start believing their own publicity. I wonder if we are seeing that here?

Anonymous said...

John Clarke - " . . . the producers of these beers can then start believing their own publicity. I wonder if we are seeing that here?"

You think so? :~)

from The Scotland On Sunday piece -

"I think all the other small Scottish breweries are intimidated and scared . . . In one year we've completely eclipsed their combined achievements."

They've done great stuff in a year - no question, but this kind of stuff leaves a worse taste than diacetyl in the mouth.

Having balls, doing well & "bigging yourself up" (as a 20-something brewer might say) is fine, but feeling the need to do that while also doing down all other Scots microbrewers smacks of false confidence & immaturity.

Anyone care to list some of the achievements of Scots microbrewers that haven't been eclipsed by the BrewBitches?

ChrisM said...

BrewDog beers regularly make an appearance into the Newcastle Arms (no prizes for guessing which city I'm talking about ;-]). Sometimes they sell out in a matter of hours, sometimes days. I'm not a great fan personally.

Anonymous said...

half_man_half_pint said...
"I live near Edinburgh . . . I rarely see draught BrewDog beers in pubs here. I guess they're only interested in the bottled market - especially for export."

I've read that (previously?) 20% of BrewDog's production went into cask. About their brewing largely strong beers (which half-man suggests don't sell so well in Scotland?) they seem to have 2 regular beers at 5% & 5.5% & (used to have?) a 2.7% mild 'Edge'.
n't stock it.

HalfMan again "As for keg beer. Guest beer taps are all hand pumps. There are no guest keg taps. Discerning drinkers won't drink it anyway."

agreed, most decent UK beer is cask & cask stalwarts would rather die . . . but there's a fair bit of filtered/pasteurised beers out there UK & foreign that are still damn good. If I ever see anything interesting on keg, I'll normally give it a go (e.g. decent lager, wheat, Anchor Liberty, etc.) - you see, I let my tastebuds do the discerning ;~) not simply being blindly prejudiced against a production/serving method.

People also seem to be casting nasturtiums about BrewDog's bottled beers & pasteurisation - HalfMan said
"Way too pasteurised"
&
Gazza Prescott said
"IMO the bottled beer is becoming worse (fizzier, tastes pasteurised now)"

According to all I could find online they're "fermented in stainless conical fermenters . . . All bottled beer is doubly filtered and force carbonated prior to bottling." from http://www.scottishbrewing.com/breweries/Grampian/Brewdog.php

This suggests just rough & sterile filtration, rather than filtration & pasteurisation.

But either way, pasteurisation can still sometimes leave a decent beer un-ruined! - I rarely turn down a pint or bottle of any Anchor beer, all AFAIK pasteurised (but presumably done so with great care).

Barm said...

"I have never seen any BrewDog beers at any Scottish CAMRA beer festival."

Really? The first time I ever encountered BrewDog beer was at the Paisley beer festival, the biggest in Scotland.

Tandleman said...

According to Stonch, both Gazza and I have impaired palates due to "a lifetime of excessive drinking".

Don't listen to us then!

Happy New Year.

Jeff Frane said...

Happy New Year, ya sot! Not even midnight here yet and I haven't had a drink since about 4 pm.

Gazza Prescott said...

"According to Stonch, both Gazza and I have impaired palates due to "a lifetime of excessive drinking".

All I can say is that if he thinks Batemans, Taylors, Sheps and Mordues are the pinnacle of UK brewing he knows less than our cat about beer.

And our cat knows nowt about beer.

Jeff Frane said...

What the hell is "excessive drinking"?

Tandleman said...

Drinking non brown beers!

jocko said...

I posted on this blog in August when i realised that the GBBF didnt have a Brew Dog beer .Ok they may do extreme beer but their lower gravity beers are the best thing to come out of Scotland since the bagpipes. On second thoughts bagpipes are pretty extreme.

Anonymous said...

OK they're very well-marketed, have some great & unusual beers but they're still a very new brewery, and they don't seem to concentrate on cask beer or real ale in bottle, why should they automatically get a place at GBBF?

But re BrewDog & CAMRA fests generally, I'm still curious as to why they feel that "CAMRA has made it so difficult for them to present their products at festivals they've decide not to bother trying to attend"?

As Tandy says, they managed to make it to Bury & IIRC a few more fests I've been to in the last 18 months, so why the huff?

Anonymous said...

I just spotted Bailey's comment about them spoiling for a fight with CAMRA - yep, after their David&Goliath fight with Portman, that sounds perfectly plausible!

Yawn.

Anonymous said...

I've had four of their beers so far (Punk IPA, Tokyo, Riptide and Paradox Grain #007) and to be honest apart from the Tokyo I didn't really reckon all that much to what they do. I was a bit disappointed if this is the best that 'serious' extreme brewing has to offer in the UK. I love my imperial stout but I found Riptide to be such a bland take on it as to make it not worth pursuing. I'm thinking of using the rest in cooking.

ChrisM said...

Came across Brewdog Chaos Theory in the GBG listed Bodega in Newcastle last night. Not at all impressed, extreme alcohol kick and not much else.

Anonymous said...

Anon. said
"I've had four of their beers . . . I'm thinking of using the rest in cooking"

You might do better selling them on eBay, esp the Paradox?

Anonymous said...

The more I read about these 'Brewers', the less interested I become. A textbook case of 'Gonzo publicity' to build a national brand. They may have got the timing wrong though, who's buying brewing businesses at the moment?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, actually I don't think they're simply the "build it up & flog it" types, myself. I think some of their marketing is dumb, aggressive, laughable, juvenile, annoying, simplistic, ill-thought-out, facile and likely to appeal to beer-drinkers who consider themselves edgy & counter-culture.

I think Peter Austin (microbrewing Godfather) might have said it best (I'm probably misquoting)- "it all boils down to - how's the beer?" - in my experience, not bad at all; on the odd occasion I've had the IPA & Stout. Sounds like not everyone is convinced.