It doesn’t usually take me this long to write a piece and my friends will tell you that I'm seldom lost for words but I witnessed something extraordinary last Tuesday and the truth is I wasn't sure if it was to my liking. Now I've had a couple of days to cogitate, ruminate and procrastinate ...
I've never been to the opening of an Apple Store, but I imagine the zeal and enthusiasm shown by Max and Johnny from Brew Dog at the official launch of the "dissident" brewer's newest bar in Nottingham and the response (whoops, cheers and lots of clapping) from the 120 or so attending the event would make the late Steve Jobs smile.
Brew Dog Nottingham, with it's brash electric blue exterior signage and stripped back brick interior walls is on the first floor of a converted factory building on the edge of Nottingham's Lace Market area. Sharing a street with the renowned Broadway Arts Centre, Edin's Restaurant, Lee Rosy's Tea Shop and the world's smallest commercial cinema the Screen Room (seats 21!) (Amendment 28/5/12 - closed down last November! Oooops!)
On offer is the full panoply of Brew Dog's output of "revolutionary" craft beers (10 in total). The original Punk IPA, I say original it was reduced in strength after a public vote, summer yellow with citrus & passion fruit top notes and a kick on the swallow. You can really taste the New Zealand Nelson Sauvon hops, which, according to Max and the Brew Dog booklet (download by clicking here) are chucked in by the bucketful.
Right the way through to Paradox Jura at a hefty 10% and best drunk in the branded ⅓ rd pint glasses with Dark Crystal Caramalt and Chocolate Malt that apart from its lovely dark colour put me in mind of a very sweet barley wine only with the twist of cranberries and the woodiness of the oak chips it is aged in.
With an emphasis on the beer, and with these guys it really is all about the beer, the whole décor of the place, the minimal food offering (a choice of six meat or cheese boards) and the high stools and tables Brew Dog Nottingham only just escapes the label of a "vertical drinking establishment". Mind you have any more than 25ml of End of History (bottled and wrapped in road kill squirrel skin) and you wouldn't be vertical for long - it comes in at 55%!!!
You have to hand it to Brew Dog they know how to run a PR machine in this digital age, this quote from their press pack, however, rankled a little as an adopted citizen of Nottingham: "Brew Dog calls for an end to shallow marketing and mass-produced beers in a city ‘flooded with the mediocre". Obviously they've not tried any of the great beers from Castle Rock, Mallard, Magpie or Alcazar.
In response to the "mediocrity" and "brainless marketing" endemic in Nottingham Brew Dog produced a very limited edition Hops Kill Robin Hood, Imperial Red Ale. This 7.8% beer was only available for the first week of the Nottingham branch's first week, so sorry folks if you haven't tried it by now then you've missed it.
Apart from this minor gripe I can't find much wrong with Brew Dog's latest offering and with 10 sites planned for 2012 it would seem that the "revolution" is set to spread around the country. According to Max and Cam (Brew Dog's PR) the good folk of Tokyo might also be enjoying a taste of Aberdeen. Brew Dog's excellent little booklet - Beer School - should come in handy for them.
It was as my party was leaving, having enjoyed their hospitality that a thought came to mind that despite the generational difference (Brew Dog really are the brewers of the Facebook generation) that they will probably do a great deal to keep British brewing ahead of the game and even though I was weaned on cask conditioned ales their beers are as good as any "real" ale, a fact that some CAMRA purists should note.
Now if we can just swing a 'no' vote in the Scottish independence referendum …