I have a soft spot for BrewDog, those punky craft brewers from Scotland. I was thrilled when they started exporting their beers throughout Japan as in my small city Punk IPA was just about the best thing going. I’ve written about them twice before, a general overview when the first started exporting and a followup when I managed to make it down to their bar in Roppongi.
Third time pays for all, as Bilbo Baggins says.
Brewdog has been in the news recently, as they are building an American production brewery in Columbus Ohio. While I can find the occasional can of Punk IPA or bottle of Tokyo* here in Colorado, they aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as they were in Japan. This new 100 barrel facility looks to change that. This move will put more BrewDog beers into the American distribution pipeline, and it’ll be fresher too absent that sea voyage across the Atlantic.
Speaking of voyages across the Atlantic, I’ve been quiet around here because I spent a big chunk of August in Bristol, England. Luckily for me Bristol is home to a BrewDog bar, and I stopped by a few times. I was quite excited as they had available both Tactical Nuclear Penguin (32% abv) and Sink the Bismark (41% abv). These two ice distilled “beers” came from the brewers attempt to craft the highest alcohol beer in the world, and I’ve been eager to try them since I wrote about them over a year ago.
Tactical Nuclear Penguin is supposed to be an Imperial Stout, but really it tasted like a very strange whiskey. I say strange, but it wasn’t strange in a bad way. It was just a hoppy, roasted malt tasting whiskey. But the hefty bite from the alcohol certainly separated it from the ranks of mere beer. They only serve you a shot’s worth, but that is all you need at that sort of alcohol level. While it was unusual, I’d say it was quite a nice sort of unusual.
On the other hand, Sink the Bismark was an interesting experience. It was one I’m glad I had, but wasn’t the sort of thing I’d really order again. The extra 10% abv was quite noticeable on the palate. Single malt Scotch must be aged for at least eight years, which lets the alcohol mellow considerably. This was more like someone had spiked double IPA with a shot of straight vodka. There was no mellow character to it at all, rather it was raw and sharp and overpowered the other flavors present in the beer. While I didn’t love Sink the Bismark, I am glad I tried it. I enjoy sampling things that are part of Beer History, and Sink the Bismark certainly qualifies. Now if only I could find a bottle of the 55% The End of History.
I’m excited to see BrewDog expand into the United States, and I look forward to bringing home a six-pack of 5 AM Red Ale. What do you think? Can BrewDog compete in America? Should they even try? Let me know in the comments!