Normally my Wednesday evening plans consist of going to knit night at the pub, but when my friend Jenny invited me to be her +1 guest to a beer tasting evening that she had won a free place for two at, I couldn’t pass it up.
The event was a beer tasting at the BrewDog Camden, one of the newer installations of the BrewDog Brewery pub chains. We showed up a bit early since some digging online hinted that there should be tasty food at the pub (though no obvious place on their website says this, I actually when looking up something else for this just found their menu as a download). Lucky the internet won this round and they did indeed have food in the form of pizza and burger options. We decided to get a veggie pizza to split and I nabbed a pint of one of the guest beers, Liberty Ale from the USA (mostly cause it was one of the lower % ones). Sad to say it tasted like American beer, though a nicer form of American beer. The pub itself was quite nice and though a bit busy, most the patrons were really polite and easy going about lack of space and table sharing.
Time finally rolled around for us to head to the basement for our tasting session. It was a small group and I’d say women made up probably a third of the group or slightly under, which is frankly not a bad a percentage for a tasting. Jenny & I nabbed a sofa and while we were waiting for things to begin dug out our knitting. I was well determined to finish the shawlette I’d been working on so I actually knitted the whole way through the tasting as I listened to the talking. We tasted five beers over the evening.
First up was the Punk IPA, their flagship beer if you will. Now I’m not a big IPA person to begin with as I tend to find them bitter and vile. The Punk IPA had a hint of a West Coast USA IPA type style but without the shoddy taste. One of the things I despised about beer in Seattle was nearly all craft brews were IPAs and nearly all of them were revolting. This one had a subtle ode to that flavor but I could drink it without grimacing and didn’t find it awful. It wasn’t a bad beer but it wouldn’t be something I’d ever order if I had a choice. Just not my type of thing.
Next up was the 5am Saint, their other main beer. This one was more of an ale style beer and so it was something I found more palatable. It was a nice well rounded ale though nothing overly special about it. However I would be more than happy to drink it all evening long. Pleasing and good so it works.
Then they threw in a kicker with a taste of their beer, Hardcore. It was an imperial IPA type of beer but this was not your usual IPA type of taste. This thing was like a punch in the mouth on the first drink as you were slammed with flavor. It was a bit intense at first but on subsequent drinking it got better. They also gave us some pizza to have with it to try out the beer with food pairing. Like some of those red wines that are near undrinkable on their own but become delightful on the tongue when combined with cheese, this beer totally upped the ante with the pizza. It paired really nicely with the flavors and showed it would be a nice food companion beer.
Moving on to trying a more dark beer, they brought out the Dogma. Apparently this beer was originally called Speedball after the infamous drug combo as it is made of a combination of active stimulants, hops & poppy, and depressants, guarana and kola nuts. However the official government board disagreed with this being the name of the beer and so they renamed it to Dogma. When running through all the ingredients in the beer, there was a tossing of glasses full them onto the group of tasters. It was a nice way to shake things up, even if I did end up with oats in my beer. The beer itself was beautiful. It’s a delectable imperial stout with a smooth velvety flavor. It tasted of coffee and oats. This is something I would just drink all the time. It also was giving me ideas about it’s possibility at being a quality candidate for making a delicious beer float.
The last beer of the tasting was the Abstrakt AB:08 and man was it a winner of epic proportions. They actually blindfolded us all before they’d let us see and taste the beer. The reason being that people see a beer and get an expectation of how it tastes, which should have been the tip off for this one. It was a blonde stout. Yes, you read that right, blonde. And it was fucking amazing. It tasted like chocolates, sweetness, and coffee. It was like a dessert wine but beer. I wanted it on ice cream and on every dessert I made.
While wrapping up and answering last questions, our awesome staff leading the tasting (names… i am so bad with names… and i didn’t write them down!) talked about a few of the ultra high strength beers they had made, some of which were upstairs and should be checked out. One which sadly was no longer around, was a super high strength beer at 55%, The End of History, that was a limited number of 12 bottles. They incorporated a very clever taxidermist for some assistance in the packaging and well, yea, you poured beer from a squirrel’s mouth Or a stoats as apparently there were 7 stoats and 4 grey squirrels used (they were all roadkill so weren’t killed specifically for the purpose of packaging). Each of the BrewDog pubs got a bottle and the Camden one’s is called Steve (if I remember right).
They also suggested if we were up for it, to try some of the Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a 32% imperial stout that is one of the world’s strongest beers. It gets served in shot glass sized amounts which you enjoy as if you would a whiskey. Jenny & I weren’t quite ready to go home and so decided to share one. It was also a thing of fucking awesomeness. It tasted as a cross between a whiskey and a beer. It was delightful.
It was an awesome thing to do for a Wednesday evening and I’m now thinking whenever I get around to my driving trip of Scotland, there may need to be a stop by the BrewDog Brewery. Aside from having an array of tasty tasty beers, they have some fun named beers that we didn’t taste like Arrogant Bastard and Bitch Please. Though Jenny was quite annoyed at the grammar on that last one when we saw the bottle. It should have a comma since it is technically a command statement: “Bitch, Please.”
Bad grammar aside, I learned a few new things at the tasting like when you see “imperial” on a beer name, it means it’s a really strong version of that type of beer. My favorites for the evening were the Dogma and the AB:08 but I also really enjoyed the Penguin. Must go back to try more. Or I’m also very tempted to order some from their online shop. And bonus of the evening…I finished my shawl: