Thursday, 1 March 2012

BrewDog Nottingham Launch

Well, it had been open nearly a week at the time, but I suppose you don't get a chance to have an opening week more than once, so I don't blame them for making the most of it. The 'press lauch' event was Tuesday night, and it was great to meet some of the people I've been chatting to on Twitter; Simon, Matt & Rick from Notts Brew, Ian and Marverine.

BrewDog types... (Max & Johnny)
So on to the bar. Well, I'd go for the beer, ignoring all the hype and everything else surrounding it. The fact of the matter is that whatever criticisms that are levelled at BrewDog, very few of them centre on the beer they make. Yes, their PR can grate a bit, but then if you are a beer geek, it's not you the PR is aimed at, it's aimed at the yet-to-be-converted, the ones that don't spend a lot of their free time immersed in Untappd, Ratebeer and ahem... Beer blogs. I only had BrewDog draft* (sic) since that's what my wrist band got me.

Blitz, 2.8%: I kicked off with this one. Good malty/liquorice flavour but the lack of body means it came across as a bit watery as I got through it. Good for such a low strength but at £3.60/pint I can't see them shifting huge amounts!

Big Dog (Broad Street's giant)
Punk IPA, 5.4%, £2.95 for 2/3 of a pint: I've not had this since they started dry-hopping it, but it is really very good, as you'd expect from what, I suppose, is their flagship beer. Bursting with passion fruit and mango flavours and a grassy note from the Nelson Sauvin. Nicely counterpointed by a bitter finish.

5am Saint, 5%, £2.95 for 2/3 of a pint: Fruity, particularly red fruit. Raspberry notes. More bitterness than the Punk. This was the first one where I thought, 'it needs to be on cask.' Being a bit more subtle than the Punk, I thought the aromas just didn't come out at you until it had warmed up a bit.

Prototype 17.6, 4.1%, £3.95/pint: Speaking of raspberries, this ones flavoured with them. Pleasant enough, although I'd suggest it's more of a summer beer than one for February. Fresh, perfumed and clean and with a good, tart finish. Reminded me a little of Williams brothers Roisin rather than a more overt fruit beer. The 17.6 is because it's the 6th batch of prototype 17.

Hops Kill Robin Hood, 7.8&%, £2.95/half pint: The one that's definitely not a Robin Hood beer, you know, it's ironic? Moving on... It's really very good. Still got massive hop flavour, but not quite as candied as the Punk, and I think all the better for it.

Hardcore IPA 9.2%, £3.20/half pint: Pithy citrus; grapefruit and orange on the nose. Sweetness and slightly syrupy on the palate.

Alice Porter, 6.2%, £1.85/half: My friend Nik was waxing lyrical about the kerosene aromas of this one, and he was right, there's an air of jet-fuel about it. If that sounds foul, it isn't, it really works.

What event is not improved by the addition of a knitted beard?
Paradox Jura, 15%, £3.50/third of a pint: Imperial stout aged in Jura whisky barrels. Cutting to the chase, this is one of the most amazing beers I've ever tried. Lots of coffee and chocolate on the nose, the vanilla/bourbon flavours coming through on the palate giving way to a PX sherry finish. Velvet-smooth and luxuriously sweet. It's a big beer, one to dwell on. I'm sure it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea (another friend described it as being like post-mix syrup, but it didn't stop him drinking it!) but I loved it!

Are there any criticisms? Well, if it were me I'd go for a more informative bar lay out, they're trying to sell beers that many people have never heard of before, and since many people don't know what they want before they get to the bar, having labels on the fonts might help. I suppose the argument runs that the staff will keep you informed about the beer, and help you make a choice, but that can't always happen when they're busy. Other things like terrible queue management can be put down to opening week inexperience amongst the staff. If this seems a bit picky then I apologise, don't let it make you think I didn't like the bar!

It will be interesting to see how things work out once the novelty factor has worn off. Will people in Nottingham be prepared to carry on spending the kind of prices they're being asked to pay? It's not London, and you don't have to be an economic analyst to know that there's less money knocking about up here. They also need to get wi-fi in there.

Good luck to BrewDog Nottingham, and thanks for a cracking evening.

* How cool can you get? American spelling and everything, that's why they're next to a movie theater! Look at that, nearly managed to finish without taking the...

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