Tag: Brewdog

Cycle and Wicked Weed at Brewdog AGM

Yes I admit I’m an Equity Punk! It seems lately that Brewdog has been getting a fair bit of bad press but I don’t intend to go over that again. We’ve been going to the AGM for the last 4 years and it’s always a great day out – an interesting selection of beers and some top music too.

This year we attended 2 meet the brewer/tasting events – Cycle and Wicked Weed.

First up – Cycle. Doug Dozark (Founder/Brewer) and Charlie Meers (Director of Shenanigans – yes that’s what it says on his business card!) had travelled over 25 hours non stop to get to Aberdeen from Tampa but this didn’t dampen their enthusiasm and friendliness to everyone who came to talk to them. Cycle Brewing started in Pegs Cantina with Doug coming from Cigar City. The majority of their beer is distributed in the local area so we were lucky to get to try Crank (IPA) and an Imperial Stout with no name during the tasting. The brewery has a large number of  barrels (mostly from Pritchard Distillery) with their output being Imperial Stouts available mainly in bottles and crowlers.

They have 5 year round beers – Crank, Fixie, Cream & Sugar Please, Peleton and Sharrow.

Crank accounts for 50% of their production with it all going on draft in their taproom so getting this on draft was a bit of a coup. This batch had spent an extra 2 weeks in the brewery. A mix of base and flake malt with mainly Citra, Simcoe and Columbus hops gives it a fruity dry flavour. This dryness comes from the addition of dextrose which dries out the beer and “lets the hops shine”.

The second beer at the tasting was an Imperial Stout. It was 2 years in the making with a lot of caramel forward Munich malt. The base stout was 11% with the addition of locally roasted cocoa nibs and whole coffee beans.

Me with Doug (left) and Charlie from Cycle.

When asked how much coffee the response was “a sh*t ton”!

They said they either add these to the fermentors and/or the bright tanks. They also admitted it had no written recipe so who knows if we’ll get to try it again. It has to have been one of my beers of the day with a rich chocolate milk flavour – I hope they do work out how they made it!

 

Our second tasting was with Richard Kilcullen of Wicked Weed but just that week of the new Overworks sour brewery belonging to Brewdog. Richard started by telling us a bit about Wicked Weed – their mission was to “demystify sours” and make beers with a “sense of place”. He explained that Wicked Weed have only one house strain of Brett and they control the flavours by controlling the fermentation temperatures. This allows them to remove any cloying flavours and the acidity is tempered.

The first beer we tried was Genesis (6.6%). This beer is brewed with 1lb of tropical fruits (mango, pineapple, papaya and guava) per gallon of beer. It’s then aged for 8 months in red wine barrels. The fruit is added before barrelling to give a secondary fermentation before racking off. A super fruity, sour bomb with a good balanced flavour (as promised the acidity was smoothed out).

Me with Richard

Our second beer was Silencio. This is a 7.4% black sour ale. Tahitian vanilla and El Silencio coffee (giving it the name rather than the club in Mulholland Drive – pity!). Aged in bourbon barrels. It did a have a slightly acidic coffee flavour but all the flavours from the coffee, vanilla and barrels came through.

The final part of the talk was about Overworks, the new Brewdog sour facility in Ellon. They are basically building a ‘farmhouse’ which will use mixed culture fermentation. Construction began in January 2017 and Richard said he is looking forward to starting to use his knowledge from Wicked Weed to brew great sour beers in Scotland. The end of the session included a Q&A with the question raised “where is sour beer going?”, Richard’s answer “in my mouth”. I have to say that this is a sentiment I have to agree with!

In both cases it was great to try some unusual beers and meet some interesting brewers. I hope that Cycle can get their beers over here and that the Overworks is a success.

Bad Dog!

So, a few weeks ago we wrote about a new bar that had opened on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter called Lone Wolf. We were pretty impressed by the space and the passion of Sallie and Josh, and after only a few weeks they increased the tap range to 10 which made it even better. But they did mention a spanner in the works because Brewdog had a distillery called Lone Wolf and had sent a cease and desist letter for them to change their name.

And so it came to pass that Lone Wolf became Wolf because they didn’t think it was worth trying to argue with the big boys so to speak. With costs being incurred by themselves they changed signage and everything and relaunched on March 15th as The Wolf bar (@TheWolfBham), and a great night it was with brewers from @BurningSoulBrew, @greenduckbrew, @MauleBrewingCo and @TwistBarrelAle (and if you are not checking these guys out you should be).

Rob Davies from the Guardian happened to be at Sheffield beer festival recently when someone, who may or may not have read our original blog post, told him the story. So Rob got in touch with Sallie and Josh to get more details,  but didn’t say when the story would be published.  March 26th it was published online (here’s the link for those that didn’t see it https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/26/brewdog-lone-wolf-birmingham-pub-change-name – and the proverbial hit the fan with the phone at the bar ringing off the hook, twitter notifications going mental, and messages coming in from friends and acquaintances in Newcastle, Liverpool, Berlin, and even Australia. It was great for us to see the Birmingham beer community get behind these guys and give them their support, although I personally thought some of the anti-Brewdog vitriol got a bit out of hand.

Anyway James Watt eventually tweeted…but forgot to tag the bar so they didn’t see it straight away. After even more press, including the Birmingham Mail, the PM Show on Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, and BBC WM amongst others, the brewery did get in touch, with James emailing to say they would cover all the costs, and even inviting them to the distillery…Since then there have been a few more jabs at Brewdog who maybe aren’t that punk after all (“ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”) but in the end it probably isn’t going to do them a lot of harm.

Josh says their twitter following, and more importantly, footfall has already increased, and hopefully it will continue to do so. He said now they just want to put an end to it and move on, and to that end they have lined up a few events, which include tap takeovers and meet the brewers with Five Points in April and Mad Hatter in May, with hints of more to come.

So let’s hope this fable ends with the Wolf and the Dog peacefully co-existing and living in beery harmony…

Not a firm of Lawyers…

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When a group of Birmingham beer drinkers get together over a glass or 2 of cask, keg or bottled beer, eventually talk will turn to how hard done by we are compared to other towns and cities in terms of what is available. Now although this is true to an extent, let’s not forget that we are blessed with some pretty decent pubs and bars in the city centre. Case in point is the Brewdog Bar in John Bright St. Now I’ll be upfront and mention that I am friends with manager Michael Gee, Neil Hemus, and get on with and like the other members of staff in the bar, but hope this doesn’t colour the following comments too much.

Since opening at the end of 2012 in John Bright St, as well as the usual selection of Brewdog beers, guest ales and bar food, the bar often do events such as kitchen takeovers, meet-the-brewer and tap takeovers and one such event was held on Friday 16th. This time it was the turn of London brewers Anspach and Hobday, and I was fortunate to spend a bit of time with Paul (Anspach), Jack (Hobday), Dylan, Patrick and Dan. Here they are enjoying a beer or 2

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I had the chance to have a bit of a chat with them in the early part of the evening and discovered that there had been some experience in the drinks industry at a wine store and a Fullers pub. The impression I got though was that at some point there was a strong impetus to open a brewery and take their home brewing experience to the next level. And so it came to pass that in 2014 brewing operations began underneath the arches in Bermondsay. Since it is home to other breweries and the Maltby Street market I was told it was a bit of a no brainer to choose this for the site. It’s a fairly small operation, just 2.5 barrels per brew, but this does enable them to do a good few brews per week, with Dylan and Paul, the main brewers, managing to get up to 5 done. They do a core range of 7 beers in their distinctively designed bottles, including the IPA, described thus on their website (http://anspachandhobday.com/)

“Our IPAs seem to get better with each batch. Always resinous with a punchy aroma and bitterness. This brew epitomises what we believe an IPA should be: Full of hops, body and with a strength to match, it would have lasted the journey to India but even better have it cold in a glass at its freshest.”

Another core beer is the Stout Porter – “The big-brother of The Porter. Our Stout Porter (8.5%) is a strong (stout) full flavoured, full bodied Porter. A complex interplay between dark fruits, chocolate, coffee & liquorice flavours all derived from our blend of Pale & Roasted malts carefully balanced with British East Kent Golding & American Cascade hops. A beer that goes very well with itself.”

I sampled both of these and can attest to their quality, both really tasty beers with a lot of complexity in the porter. In total the guys brought 14 beers with them and my tastebuds were tingling even before I got to the bar, and they didn’t disappoint. The different Saisons were particularly interesting, especially the Galaxy one that had been aged in Chardonnay barrels to give it a quite dry zingy taste. They also did a collaboration with some of the guys from Brewdog, a Kentucky Common, but I only got to try a small taste of this… I’ll be honest, my recollections of the latter part of the evening are a bit hazy. So all in all it was a great event, and if you are visiting London their brewery is open Friday 17:00-21:30, Saturdays 11:00-17:30 & Sundays 12:00-17:00.

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