Posts Tagged ‘eisbock’

After reading about and hearing the crosstalk about Scottish brewer BrewDog‘s newest “beer,” The End of History, the Beermudgeon has decided it’s time to toss in his two cents on this matter and BrewDog’s publicity hounding ploys.

First, let it be said that I truly enjoy many of BrewDog‘s brews when they aren’t trying to be cute and overly extreme. 5 A.M. Saint in particular is, IMHO, an excellent beer, and Hardcore IPA is also commendable. Punk IPA, however, was a rather average version of a basic IPA — nothing to recommend it to further drinking. Even Tokio*, an 18.2% ABV cranberry/jasmine flavored imperial stout, was not one of my favorites, but certainly has its share of fans and I can accept it for what it is. Tokio* was the first of what I will call BrewDog‘s “extremist” beers, setting the stage for the insanity that was to come.

BrewDog's The End of History

BrewDog's The End of History

That being said, the course that BrewDog charted after Tokio* has been rather ludicrous and, in some ways, detrimental to the cause of good craft beer in the world at large. First came Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a 32% ABV Imperial Stout created by freezing out some of the water from the original beer and thus concentrating the alcohol to near-liquor levels — 64 proof. Then came Sink the Bismarck!, a 41% ABV (82 proof) IPA created through a similar freeze-distilling process. Finally, we now have the 55% ABV (110 proof) The End of History, a blonde Belgian-style ale flavored with Scottish nettles and fresh juniper berries, accomplished again through the “art” of freeze-concentrating the beer. It costs about US$800 and only 12 bottles were made. Oh, yes, and here’s the kicker — each bottle comes wrapped in a texidermied small animal — a squirrel, shoat or hare. (See below.)

The masterminds, if that’s what you want to call them, of BrewDog, James Watt and Martin Dickie, claim this is the “final installment of our efforts to redefine the limits of contemporary brewing.” Please, let it be so.

If these beers were simply about creating “buzz” and getting BrewDog’s name plastered throughout the planet, congratulations, I guess you’ve achieved your goal. And you’ve even sucked the ol’ Beermudgeon into your game. Thrilled to oblige.

On the other hand, I think the danger — strike that — the downside of what BrewDog has done with this series of beers is trivialized the efforts of hundreds, if not thousands, of craft brewers throughout the world who have been trying to show the drinking public that brewing is more than creating the next ├╝ber-high-alcohol brew that will knock you on your butt, dude. Didn’t we suffer enough with the malt liquor craze of the 1970s and ’80s?

Furthermore, BrewDog‘s methodology in creating these beers is more than a little suspect. I’m no great homebrewer, but I’ve talked with enough accomplished brewers and read comments from even more to know that amping up the alcohol content of a beer by freezing out the water can hardly be called “brewing.” True, an entire style of beer, the German Eisbock, involves this method, but if getting maximum ABV out of the beer were the goal of eisbocks, we would have had a 55% ABV Schneider Aventinus long ago. Give me a basic understanding of the process, the right equipment and a few kegs of Bud, and I’m sure that I could produce the world’s first-ever 75% ABV beechwood-aged American lager. Yippee.

Do we, the beer drinkers of the world, gain anything from the production of these “extremist” beers? At some point, doesn’t the high alcohol just become a hot mess? And extreme-hopped beers — such as BrewDog’s 225 IBU (theoretical) Nanny State — are equally pointless, as the taste experts tell us the average human can’t discern hoppiness above 100 IBUs or so.

How about we make a pact with these obviously gifted brewers: Just give us some great beers to drink, and we’ll buy ’em, drink ’em and enjoy ’em.