Monday, 25 June 2012

Beer Fuelled Bluestocking...

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows what a fan I am of Brew Dog beer. We've been buying it since Punk IPA first appeared, which we fell in love with. Here was a beer that had flavour, wasn't the mass produced 'beer' that was usually on offer, but nor was it the heavier real ales (which still have their place in my heart). Brew Dog were different. New. Exciting.

The Manchester bar had a pilot brew session last week to create a new beer and I was fortunate enough to be able to act like a beer groupie and meet Martin and the guys putting together the brew. I was even lucky enough to taste it before it even headed to fermentation. That's going to be one interesting beer...

...but last night Mr GFB and I went to the Beer School at Brew Dog. Six different beers, meat and cheese platter, and the expert knowledge behind the bar in Brew Dog, made it an opportunity not to be missed.

On arrival we made our way upstairs and introduced ourselves to our fellow beer enthusiasts, before Dean and Al, our hosts for the evening arrived and the lessons began.

To make it easier to understand, tasting  beer is the same as tasting wine and following my visit to Three Wine Men earlier this year, I understand a bit more about how to do it. The three S's - Swirl, Sniff and Sip - rinse and repeat. There are no right or wrong answers - everyone has different taste, it's all about the experience you have.

Dean and myself submitting to Mr GFB's photography skills
The first beer of the evening was Dead Pony Club, which is a light American style beer. I immediately thought of peaches, but dipping my nose further into the scent, I could smell mango, lychees - sweet tropical fruits. The taste is as it smells, tropical fruit, with a slightly metallic tang at the end. Dean was able to tell us that the hop used to brew Dead Pony Club is new, only 6-8 months old and has only recently been named  Mosaic.

Our second beer was the stalwart of the Brew Dog empire, Punk IPA. The scent is very similar to Dead Pony Club, but the taste is slightly heavier, more bitter grapefruit. A variety of hops is used to brew Punk - including Simcoe and Chinook. 

IPA is Dead was beer number three. This smells like a mango farm - deep, earthy and yummy, with a tickle of passion fruit. Again this has a gorgeous grapefruit finish with a light caramel edge.

Dean and Al described the beer making process with us, inviting us to try some of the malts that are used by Brew Dog and to smell some of the hops they use. The malts can be roasted to different degrees, affecting the depth of colour and flavour of the beer. The hops are chosen for their oil composition and the later they are added the lighter the effect they have.

Yes, yes we do. And gin, vodka, whisky, rum....
Mr GFB was curious to know, if the spent grain from the fermentation process goes into animal feed... Does it make the meat taste any different? Answers on a postcard please...

Onto beer number four and our first non Brew Dog beer, Schneider Weiss Hopfen Weiss. This beer started as collaboration with Brooklyn Brewery and following this, they each brew a 'version'. This beer was interesting to say the least - when one member of the group described it as banoffee pie, I described further - the beer starts slightly creamy, then you slide into the banana and toffee with a hint of cloves and mixed spice, before it goes all the way through to end with the biscuity base. For all my descriptive abilities; whilst I liked that it was such a complex beer, it wasn't quite to my liking. Mr GFB much prefers a wheat beer, so he didn't hesitate to finish my glass for me.

Our second non Brew Dog beer was Hitachino Nipponia from Japan. This uses a Japanese malt, Kaneko Golden and Japanese bred hops. This results in a light citrus beer, quite lemony but with an unusual truffly flavour to it, slightly fungal and a slightly sour aftertaste. Mr GFB exclaimed it was like nothing he had had before and I agreed, though the element of sour apples reminded me of Without You I'm Nothing from Evil Twin Brewing.

Colin! (If I say it enough, it will catch on...)
Our final beer of the tasting was Mikkeller's To From via. This is Christmas in a glass; deep in colour, it smells and tastes like sticky parkin, with liquorice, chicory, chocolate, coffee, bonfire toffee flavours all present. I could picture myself with this, a coal fire in front of me, cat on my lap, snow outside. It was probably my favourite beer of the evening. Mikkeller is an unusual brewer, he travels the world working with different breweries to create one off beers.

Al and Dean then decided to treat us all to a surprise last beer, I Hardcore You. This beer was brewed in collaboration with Mikkeller, his I Beat yoU in combination with Brew Dog's Double IPA Hardcore. This is a very very popular brew and lasts only around 2 weeks on draught. It's slightly floral, hoppy, mango and passion fruit scented, with a grapefruit edge, sweet but bitter. Complex flavours. Brew Dog in a glass.

Mr GFB and I spent another couple of hours with our brand new friends, indulging in some Lost Dog, Rip Tide and discussion of all things beer. Now I just need an excuse to do it all again...


  1. We each had a Tactical Nuclear Penguin to finish the night off, was really impressed, tasted sweet and hint of the cranberries in the Tokyo more than anything else! A full bottle in my hand would be dangerous!

    1. Ohhh, lucky things. We had work the next morning, otherwise we'd have indulged. Though I think though that Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck deserve visits all of their own... :o)

      BTW, was lovely to meet both of you! You'll have to keep us advised of your beery adventures.

    2. it was indeed a fun night, just wish we didnt live so far away from a BrewDog pub...

  2. I enjoyed reading your work. I'll come back for more

    Keep up the good work :) from TheStillery, a night bar in stuart Florida