The brewery Brewdog seems to emote a wide range of emotions whenever their name is uttered among beer fans, whether it’s shouts of derision, and rolling of eyes. Or, their more vocal evangelical supporters, who may or may not be equity punks, no one can deny, that they push people’s buttons. Full disclosure, i’m an Equity Punk.
Maybe, it’s the brash marketing, this “punk” ethos, the constant crowdfunding, they selling of a stake to a US equity fund, or maybe it’s much more simple. Is it envy of their success? No matter what revisionist history you subscribe to, to get from where they were in 2007, to where they are now, a company worth appx £1bn is impressive. No matter what way you shake it down. There has even been some calls for James Watt and Martin Dickie to walk
Is It Time For James Watt & Martin Dickie To Leave Brewdog? - YouTube
It’s also extremely impressive, how they are very successful at exporting, and Ireland is currently in their top ten export markets, but realistically it’s the tie up to Sweden that is the cash cow that keeps them going. They also have a growing pub estate in the UK and further afield. They also, have been extremely successful at getting their beer in the hands of consumers. Dealing with Multiple grocers, and pubco’s like Wetherspoons, and also self distribution into other independent retailers, has seen them be able to price Punk IPA at both the top end of the market (about £5 a pint in their bars, or 4 cans for £5 in Tesco) This is all very impressive. Brewdog it appears are Marmite, you either love them, or hate them. The middle ground seems hard to find. I think the point gets lost sometimes, but they are in the business of selling beer. They are quite good at it. However are they taking less risks than before? Perhaps. They are undoubtedly still capable of great beers, Paradox Rye, Barrel Aged Albino Squid Assassin, and Jackhammer are testament to this, plus many of the small batch beers that never make it here that are exclusive to their bars.
The term Craft, is a term that has in my view been hijacked by marketeers, to convey something, and has by and large been bastardised, i’m pretty sure I saw a “craft” barber recently. But let’s put this into scale, in terms of size, Brewdog, are much smaller than many of the US brewerys they (and many beer fans) admire, take Stone for example, they produce much more, and have 3 breweries, 2 in the US, and one in Germany. Yet, they don’t get anywhere near the heat that Brewdog do.
I started this post with the intention of reviewing this new beer, and i’ll get to that. This just brings a wider context how inclusive is “craft” beer? In Ireland independent brewers hold appx 3.5% of the overall market share. This means that the vast vast majority of drinkers drink macro beer. In my view, and i’ve always thought this, there needs to be those gateway beers, and perhaps breweries, to bring people in, put an arm around them and get them to try something new. Something that won’t terrify them. Everyone has to start somewhere. It’s akin to bringing someone to an Indian restaurant and recommending a vindaloo to someone who’s never eaten one before. You wouldn’t do that (ok if you didn’t like them you might) but the point remains the same. Without denigrating the work of some here, but breweries in Ireland like O’Haras, Porterhouse, and Bru, are churning out pretty safe beers which are in the middle, and wouldn’t be too much of a challenge to you stereotypical lager drinker. For every O’Hara’s we have DOT Brewing, for every Porterhouse we have Galway Bay, for every Bru we have Whiplash. There are many people making a living now from this industry, and there is a place for everyone as the market grows, but consistency will be key to their survival. Right now there are an increasing number of brewers here who are touching on world class category, and they’re beginning to tell their story outside these shores.
The beer itself, looks pleasing in the glass, I get hints of pears, and banana on the nose, almost like a Hefeweissen but not as strong. There is a biscuity and slight caramel taste, with moderate hop bitterness. All in all, not very offensive. It’s just a well made inoffensive beer. Not too much going on, but nothing wrong with it. Maybe they’ll tweak the recipe. To my taste, i’d reach for Dead Pony over it, or Whiplash Rollover. However, if you were out with a bunch of friends and their was a couple of non craft drinkers, this wouldn’t scare them away. It might just get them on the right path to more flavourful beer in the future. Is this the middle ground? Time will tell
Athlone, a town situated on the banks of the River Shannon, literally in the middle of Ireland is about to get a new brewery. It’s first brewery in many many years. Dead Centre Brewing, quite a clever name, and nice clean branding too.
We got to sit down with Liam Tutty, founder of Dead Centre brewing, to discuss his plans for opening a brewery in Athlone, his background and of course get a taste of their new Session Pale Ale, </Sourcecode> which was launched in The Malt House that evening.
After our interview, we got to see the plans of the new brewery, and to say it’s ambitious would be an understatement, but it could very well be a template for similar across Ireland in similar sized towns.
It’s clear Liam believes strongly in local business, and supporting local as much as possible. We look forward to following his progress over the coming weeks and months. Give them a follow on twitter here , instagram , and their website here
As usual the episode can be downloaded via, iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and directly here
Why not let me make gift giving that little bit easier for you. Below is a few gift for your beer fanatic loved one. I’ve chosen items I would love to receive myself this year.
Monthly Subscription to The Beer Club It’s the gift that keeps on giving. A box of beers to drink away while discussing the aromas and tastes during a twitter hour on Tuesday nights hosted by us! You can purchase a monthly box that will be delivered right to their door. Why not surprise them by signing them up for three, six or even twelve months? They also have put together some pretty nifty looking hampers.
Speaking of subscriptions, take a look at this incredible one the guys at Yellow Belly Beer have on offer. This includes some awesome exclusive beers and swag. Not to mention an invite to a brewday with them!!
No Christmas is complete without something sweet right? Well look no further than Kate O’Ds. She makes the most amazing truffles. I can assure you they go down a treat. We’re particularly fond of her stout truffles!
Why not treat the beer lady in your life to a fabulous piece of jewelry? Wayne purchased me a beautiful hop pendant from Feral Strumpet. It came packaged in a beautiful organza bag with dried lavender. This was a lovely early Christmas present.
Have they ever been on a brewery tour? Many of our wonderful Irish breweries offer such an experience. They get a guided tour around the brewery itself. Then afterwards an opportunity to sample the beers. We’ve been on many tours like Mc Gargles and Brehon Brewhouse. Both have impressive tasting areas.
One that has been on our list for quite sometime is a trip along the west coast. I’m not only talking about the States, but our very own Ireland. Plan a trip to include all the breweries with this handy guide Wild Atlantic Way Breweries
Beer festivals are always fun. They are a great way to meet fellow beer buddies, talk to the brewers and of course try new beers. Tickets are now available for next years Alltech Craft Brews & Food event. This is held in the convention centre in Dublin and its great craic.
You can also purchase a case of this stunning beer 57 The Headline from This is limited so be quick. Also why not visit them for some quality beers and grub!
Well now the dust has settled, on another huge Big Beery Night – this year we were yet again blown away by the generosity of both the donating companies and people, but also you beer crazy folk who bid and won some unbelievable items. To refresh your memories, the list of lots is here
Here’s the final figures, we had 36 lots, each one of them sold. Raising an unbelievable €3,445.24 both in terms of winning bids, and donations.
In an extra boost, my employers Bank of Ireland Group also donated €1,250 to the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, bringing the grand total to €4,695.24
We are truly humbled by your generosity, each and every one of you.
Thank you very much for your support, we’re already thinking of how we can make it bigger and better for next year.
In this long overdue episode, the Irish Beer Snobs look back on their recent trip to the UK. To visit Leeds, and Dark City in the Northern Monk Refectory. A festival dedicated to the beauty of darker beers.
We also revisit our trip to one of the best taprooms in the UK, the Magic Rock Tap, in Huddersfield.
Looking forward we look forward to the next few weeks where there is events taking place;
Fanah Fest – 8 Degrees, Mitchelstown, Co Cork link
Brew Na Boinne – Boyne Brewhouse, Drogheda, Co Louth link
For the third year, we’re running Big Beery Night, over the weekend from Friday the 17h November, including an auction again on the Saturday evening.
Last year we raised €2655 for the Irish Cancer Society, this year we are raising funds for Alzheimers Society of Ireland as it’s an issue close to our hearts having lost family members to this illness.
You can get a flavour of last year here , and some of the lots here
The premise is quite simple, we simply ask that over the weekend from Friday 17th November that you donate the cost of your beer (gin, wine, vodka or whatever) via our Everyday Hero Page (link below)