National Winter Ale Festival 2011

After years of wanting to visit the National Winter Ales Festival (NWAF) we’ve finally done it. Out visit was a little extravagant: travelling to Manchester and staying for 3 nights – just for a beer festival! Of course we intended to have a bit of a tourist around Manchester as well, the trip was motivated by beer but not quite entirely taken up by the malt nectar. While in Manchester we visited the ale festival thrice: Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Friday afternoon.


Odd balloon sculpture

On Wednesday we arrived in Manchester at about 14:00 and headed to our hotel to settle in. Rather than head straight to the festival we wandered around the city a bit first. Walking down to the river and back, picking up a few groceries (self-catering hotel/apartment) and having an espresso or two along the way. Eventually we headed for the Oldham Street bus stop and after a short trip arrived at the NWAF at around 18:30.

Our focus on Wednesday was the “Championship Bar”. This bar housed the candidate beers for the “Champion Winter Beer of Britain”. Judged during the trade session on Wednesday afternoon the winner was Hop Back “Entire Stout” (4.5%), silver went to Marble “Chocolate” (5.5%), and bronze to Dow Bridge “Pretorian Porter” (5% – no decent link). We tried all of these, of course, and Marble’s Chocolate was my favourite of the three. The Championship Bar’s stock included Thornbridge “St. Petersburg Russian Imperial Stout” – a seriously big beer, probably my favourite beer of those I tried from the championship set. I do like my imperials!

A notable non-championship beer enjoyed on Wednesday was Fuller’s “Brewer’s Reserve No.2” (7.7%). There was a Fuller’s “Brewer’s Reserve” at the GBBF which I didn’t rate very highly, though queuing for 5 minutes to get a ⅓ probably didn’t help. However, the “Reserve” at the NWAF was excellent. Super-smooth & tasty. Certainly one of the best non-imperial-stout cask ales I’ve had that’s north of the 7% mark. Most cask ales this strong aren’t the stouts I prefer but usually “barley wines” and these have a bad tendency to taste a bit off to me. The Brewer’s Reserve No.2 had none of the nasty flavours (overripe banana, alcohol, nail-polish remover, etc) and all of the right flavours (rich, spice, wood, vanilla, light chocolate). Quite tempted to buy a bottle! This is a beer that makes me consider trying more from the “barley wine” list. I went on to try the Strands “Barley Wine” (9.5%) and while enjoyable this ended my barley-wine exploration. My notes on this beer at the time were “Like BrewDog Devine Rebel but less hops”.

The worst beer I tried from the championship selection was the Isle of Sky “Black Cuilin” (4.5%). A pity as I’d heard good things about this brewery. Unfortunately this beer was all rotten banana to me and I had most of my half tossed into a slops bucket.

I made specific notes about three other beers on the night. Regarding Kat’s Boggart “Dark Rum Porter” (4.6%) I tweeted: “really “Baileys Porter”? Very “girly” for a porter. Kat: “chocolate milkbottle candy””. Another one of Kat’s was Robinson’s “Ginger Tom” (4.3%) on which my note was: “ginger beer as it should be. Sweet maybe, but most “ginger beer” lolli-pop is far too sweet.” (That said, the day after we tried Marble “Ginger” at the Marble Arch and found this to be a much better ginger-ale. It was less sweet & more beery, less like a softdrink.) On my final beer of the night, Black Isle “Hibernator” (7%), I merely said “pudding” (but as the last beer of a night at a beer festival that’s not an entirely reliable assessment!)


My birthday cake

We decided not to get to the festival until about 19:00, giving us time to digest the beer we’d had at The Old Wellington and The Marble Arch during the afternoon (that’s another story). To keep some focus I had two strains of beer tasting to work through on this day: wheat beers and imperial Russian/Baltic/etc stouts (IRS). This pairs the list of beers down to a manageable (if somewhat high ABV) list.

To wet my palate for the evening I picked up a quick half of the Bernard “Cerne Pivo” (5.1% – unfiltered dark pilsner, if I recall correctly). To be honest this was quite disappointing. I believe I had this at the GBBF and my memory of it was a lot better than this fresh experience. So, on to an imperial. I started with a repeat of the excellent Thornbridge “St. Petersburg” (7.7%), ’nuff said. I followed this with another imperial, the Liverpool Organic “Imperial Russian Stout” (8.9%). I’ve made no notes about this but recall not being particularly excited by it.

I moved on to a sequence of three wheat beers, the only ones easily identifiable as such from the beer list. The first was Little Valley “Hebden Cloudy Wheat” (4.5%) the second Otley “O Garden” (4.8%), and the last Outstanding “White” (5%). The “O Garden” was very tangerine, orange-peel and rindy bitterness, “almost, but not entirely, completely unlike Hoegaarten” I wrote at the time. The “White” was drier but a bit flat in flavour, very little aroma (much more like Hoegaarten!) The “Hebden Cloudy Wheat” was the winner of the trio, with a great balance of lemon juice and spice with a hint of orange rind.

Wheat beers are all very well, but on the night the winner for me was Outstanding “Matron’s Delight” (8%) imperial stout. Making up for their rather dull wheat beer the “Matron’s Delight” was an excellent smooth, full bodied, and tasty example of the IRS species. I had a couple more un-notable beers after this then finished off the evening with another excellent 3rd of the “Matron’s Delight”.

We also ate at the festival on Thursday. I complained bitterly about the food at the time, and in reflection I stand by my complaints. Beer festivals are about good beer with good flavour, the flavour range and complexity available at a winter ale festival is particularly wide and varied. Great beer deserves to sit alongside great food. In general the quality of food at beer festivals needs to move up a few notches. I really expected better from the “National Winter Ale Festival” than piled-high plates of average rice, curry, baked potatoes, and chips. Even a just a selection of quality cold pies and cheeses would be a 100-fold improvement.</whinge>


Kat enjoying a Matron's Delight

Our final beer festival jaunt. We decided to do an afternoon stint this time since it was Friday and given how busy Thursday night was we expected Friday night would be heaving. Good thing too, on Friday afternoon the festival was packed – busier at 14:00 than on either Wednesday or Thursday evenings.

I boldly launched straight into an Allgates “Mad Monk” (7.1%), a legendary imperial Russian stout. As good as I remembered it and a great, if strong, start to our 3rd trip to the NWAF. My next beer was a bit of a downer, another beer tipped in the slop bucked that was made by a brewery I’ve been hearing good things about. This was the Dent “T’Owd Tup” (6%) and my only note about it was “smells a bit like sick”.

I’d planned to do a side-by-side tasting of two interesting looking beers on this day. However, I was foiled by them obviously being so good that they had been drunk dry! Breweries here have been doing interesting things lately with strong and hoppy IPAs and I had my sights set on the Amber Ales “Imperial IPA” (6.5%) and the Hydes “Hydes IPA” (6%) – alas it was not to be. However while looking for the Hydes I noticed that the Greenfield “Monkey Business” (4.4%) was a cloudy wheat beer (it was marked as a “best bitter” in the guide!) So I tried this to compare with Thursday’s selection of wheat beers. (Of course this mean trying the Little Valley “Hebden Cloudy Wheat” (4.5%) a second time for the sake of a fair comparison.) The “Monkey Business” was very orange-juicy with a pithy bitterness, drinkable but not as good as the Little Valley offering.

I tracked down one more imperial Russian stout, the Heskett Newmarket “Tsarry Night” (8.3%). My notes on this were “smooth IRS, good bitterness, following note of espresso – a little dull for an IRS”. By “a little dull” I suppose I meant it lacked the big fruit-pudding body and flavours I like in my IRS. However, I recall it being an enjoyable beer. My final dabble in the IRS space was the Wapping “Imperial Damson Stout” (8.2% & incorrectly down as “Superior Damson Stout” in the beer list). This was a most excellent beer, really super plum-jam and Christmas pudding. The flavour from the damsons really works well with this style of beer.

To wrap up the day I had some more Thornbridge “St. Petersburg” and Outstanding “Matron’s Delight” in order to get a good hold on which I preferred. As far as I’m concerned the “Matron’s Delight” wins the festival.

I did have one final final beer before leaving. A German “Beck Brau Affumikator” (9.5% unfiltered smoked triple). Quite an unusual culmination to a British beer festival but I was intrigued by the idea of a smoked tripel. It wasn’t surprising that this was a totally nuts palate-destroyer of a beer. Sweet and smoky, like liquid smoked sausage crossed with those little super-sweet Chinese sausages.

We’d hoped to pick up some bottled imperial stouts as well, but alas we’d left it too late. Note for future: buy interesting bottled beers as early as possible at beer festivals!

General Thoughts

Wapping 'Imperial Damson Stout'

This has been my favourite beer festival ever in terms of enjoying British ales. I’m a lover of porters, stouts, and – especially – imperial Russian stouts; the NWAF is a beer festival that has more of these than I can possibly get through in 3 days. Even at a big festival like the Cambridge summer beer festival I can usually work through everything of interest in a couple of trips. And even the GBBF, so dominated by boring brown bitters, isn’t great in this area. (Last GBBF trip I ended up camped out at the “Beers Without Frontiers” bar enjoying cask brews from the US.) The Cambridge Winter Ale Festival deserves an honourable mention here, it’s excellent but I don’t remember enjoying the beers there as much as at the NWAF. Also, the CWAF venue isn’t anywhere near as nice as the NWAF venue.

The venue is the “Sheridan Suite” in some kind of huge conference centre called… “The Venue”. Basically a huge split-level carpeted room. While it is a bit of a trek to get to from the town centre the bus service is frequent and CAMRA managed to arrange a discounted bus fare. Two quid to get there and back isn’t that bad. Though I thought it was a bit pricey getting into the festival itself on Friday, if you’re used to your CAMRA festivals being free for CAMRA members. We made it before 16:30 and had to pay £2 each for entry, if we’d been there after 16:30 it would have been £4! (And that’s with the £1 CAMRA member discount.) However, I presume that this is simply down to the economics of running an event of this size and don’t begrudge parting with the money too much. (Members got free entry on Thursday and we only had to pay £1 each for entry on Wednesday.)

It was great to see how popular this beer festival was. The place seemed packed on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, but was even more packed on Friday afternoon. I’d probably have hated being there on Friday evening, or Saturday! It was also interesting to see that there were a lot more younger festival-goers than I’m used to seeing at a beer festival. Not to mention more women who’re enjoying beer! Cambridge festivals are pretty good in this regard, but Cambridge is a city full of students. It’d be interesting to see the demographic data that CAMRA collected for the NWAF.

If I could single out one complaint about the NWAF it’d be the food, I’ve already ranted about it above so will keep this short: It simply isn’t good enough: We made sure we had a decent lunch beforehand and brought our own snacks along on Friday in the knowledge that there was nothing with eating at the festival. Is there no market for improving things? Are lovers of good beer mostly scoffers of crap food?

Not to end on a down note: despite the food we’ll be back! As I said previously, as far as the range of beer goes the NWAF is now my favourite beer festival. I think the CAMRA guys behind it have put together a truly excellent event that appeared to be well managed and stocked with a well selected range of beer. I hope to be able to attend again in 2012.

The Beer

Finally, I’d like to declare my personal winners for this festival.

Yvan’s Champion “Champion Winter Beer of Britain” 2011

Of the beers winning gold, silver, and bronze in the “Champion Winter Beer or
Britain” competition I’d reorder as follows:

  1. Silver: Marble Chocolate” (5.5%)
  2. Gold: Hop Back Entire Stout” (4.5%)
  3. Bronze: Dow Bridge “Pretorian Porter” (5% – no decent link)

I didn’t try enough, or focus enough on, ~5% stouts to place these amongst wider competition. I’d be happy to drink any of these three beers down at my local, but the Marble brew easily comes out on top for me.

Yvan’s Champion Wheat Beer of the 2011 NWAF

Little Valley “Hebden Cloudy Wheat” (4.5%)

Very well balanced yet tasty wheat beer. While I liked the robust flavours in the Otley “O Garden” I don’t think I could drink more than a pint of it comfortably, I’d give it runner-up.

Yvan’s Champion Imperial Russian Stout of the 2011 NWAF

Outstanding “Matron’s Delight” (8%)

It was hard picking this one out, but after several repeat-samplings of my favourite imperial Russian stouts it took the cake. As far as I’m concerned this is my beer of the festival. Honourable mentions go to the Thornbridge “St. Petersburg” and the interesting Wapping “Superior Damson Stout”. These are all beers I’ll very happily buy again.

Beer: Can vs Bottle

Emu Export(1)

There’s a stigma attached to canned beer. It’s cheap, lowbrow, and tastes awful. I’ve always thought so. Back home in the country a typical beer was a “tinny” of something like Emu Bitter, Emu Export, or Victoria Bitter (Australia’s favourite beer?) When I was younger I always hated beer and considered the contents of a tinny to taste… well, tinny. But perhaps, all along, the problem has been that all the beer I’ve tried from a can has simply been crap beer? I can’t say I like any of the aforementioned beers in bottled form either.

Wind forward a couple of decades and I’m in the UK. Nothing has changed my opinion of canned beer, to be honest the matter never comes up because no beer I’m likely to drink is available in cans. Then along comes BrewDog – they have a shocking suggestion: how about we package our Punk IPA in cans? Queue much derision from the beer-loving community. (Well, actually, I’m not sure if there was much outcry. The chatter in the blog comments and on the BrewDog shareholder forum was mostly positive and supporting – then again we’re talking about a bunch of people that kiss the ground that BrewDoggers walk on.)

In practical terms cans have a lot to offer, quoting from a can of Maui Big Swell IPA:

Welcome to the

Cans eliminate light damage
and reduce the risk of oxidation,
keeping our beer fresher
than in bottles!

Cans are lighter, chill quicker,
and can be enjoyed on beaches
and in sensitive environments.
Aluminum is the most recycled
and most eco-friendly material.

I’m not going to verify all those claims, but they certainly paint a damn fine picture. In the end however, as far as I’m concerned, the proof is in the tasting!

Unfortunately I’m probably not going to be able to try the same beer side-by-side from can and bottle until BrewDog’s Punk IPA cans hit the market. However, I can do a bit of an IPA side-by-side with similar beers to see how the canned beer shapes up. Our contestants are:

IPA Battle!

Some sketchpad notes:

St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale

  • Aroma: oatmeal/malt, light resinous hop aroma (i.e. malt aroma more powerful)
  • Flavour: Fruity/biscuity malt, floral/resinous hop flavour
  • Look: Lightly clouded golden

Big Swell IPA

  • Aroma: resinous hops, oatmeal/malt (i.e. hop aroma more powerful)
  • Flavour: Biscuity malt, grapefruit/resinous hop flavour (really wouldn’t have picked this as being lower IBU than the Odell)
  • Look: Lightly clouded golden

Punk IPA

  • Aroma: Astringent resinous hops, honey note
  • Flavour: Grapefruit/floral hops hit, then bitterness, then following light malt sweetness
  • Look: Crystal clear golden (note: this is “old” Punk IPA, as up to around end 2010)

[Note: My nose/palate seems unfortunately slightly low-resolution today. Not unwell, just not enough sleep perhaps. Still enjoying the beer and lots of flavour, just not picking out the level of flavour I’d normally find in the Punk IPA.]

So, the verdict?

These are all great beers! I wish I’d tried a blind tasting because the Odell and Maui beers are very similar. I think the Odell was a little rounder in flavour, and the Maui crisper – could I call that “tinny”? No, I call it slightly hoppier and a little more bitter (despite the lower published IBU.) “Tinny” is such a horrible word, let’s move on to woodier thoughts.

I think that if I were asked in a blind tasting of all three beers to pick which came from a can I’d have chosen the Punk IPA. It’s certainly got the hops and bitterness turned up a notch or two. This Maui IPA is even “bottle conditioned”, pouring with a slight haze of yeast. It was certainly the liveliest of the beers and the side of the can bears the words “Live Beer! Keep Cold!”

But what about a beer that isn’t supposed to have tinny (shudder) notes? A porter perhaps? We can do that! Maui’s CoCoNut PorTeR:

Canned Porter?!

This is a bloody tasty beer. Deep toasted malt flavours, lots of chocolate, slightly soured malty sweetness, light yet distinct trailing toasted coconut flavour. I love it, I’d certainly drink this again. As with the Big Swell IPA, I really couldn’t say whether the can makes any difference as I don’t have the same beer handy in bottled form. (In fact, it’d have to be from the same batch ideally.) There isn’t anything “bad” or notably “tinny” about the beer, and it is highly enjoyable. This is a beer I’ll buy again. Both the Maui beers are beers I’ll buy again. I’m thinking of buying a case of both in fact – this is perfect hiking beer, no lugging heavy glass bottles around! I hope BrewDog really do run with the cans; long live canned craft beer!

I, for one, hail our mighty canned overlords!

[1] Photo credit to JonasPhoto

BrewDog Beer Bash

On Saturday June 19th I held a little BrewDog beer tasting. The tasting list was, in my opinion, impressive. We sampled the 10 brews pictured below, from left to right – they’re ordered by %ABV. The beers range in strength from a mere 4.1% for the Trashy Blonde through to a whopping order-of-magnitude increase to 41% for the Sink the Bismark.

Beer Tasting Line-Up

So, what’s this “BrewDog” you ask? Well, they’re a relatively new brewery up in Scotland, situated in the almost-crazy north of the UK, close to Aberdeen (well, close by Australian standards). They do things a bit differently compared to your typical small British brewery. We’re not quite talking “real ale” here, certainly not in any traditional sense. What we have here is a micro modelled a bit more on the US style, more so than is comfortable for some in the CAMRA scene maybe. That said, BrewDog do release some of there beers in cask form, the Hardcore IPA from cask is one of the best ales I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy.

What people know BrewDog for mostly seems to be crazy-strong “beer” and ostentatious marketing. This is unfortunate, because they make some excellent beers that stand up perfectly well on their own beery merits. Of course, you’ve got to get people’s attention somehow – and the BrewDog guys seem to be good at that! As for crazy beers, the 4.1% Trashy Blond isn’t crazy at all, it’s an great beer and I’ve been told it’s sublime from cask. (The Live and Let Live in Cambridge sold a whole firkin in a single weekend, most of it on Saturday.) The 4.5% black lager, Zeitgeist, is crisp and refreshing as a chilled beer. Many of the stronger beers are no crazier than good Belgian ales, Bashah at 8.6%, two imperial stouts at 10%, and Devine Rebel at 13.8%. Sure, things do get a bit silly north of this point. But even the 18.1% Tokyo!* is distinctly beer, it is possibly my favourite brew – to enjoy in moderation! These are just a few from the wide variety of beer you can get out of the ‘dog.

OK, intro over. Pop along to the BrewDog website if you’re keen to know more. So, back to that beer-tasting lineup…

  1. Trashy Blond – 4.1% – Blonde Ale
  2. Zeitgeist – 4.9% – Black Lager
  3. Bashah – 8.6% – “Black Belgian-Style Double IPA”
  4. Paradox – Isle of Arran – 10% – Whisky Cask Aged Imperial Stout
  5. Paradox – Smokehead – 10% – Whisky Cask Aged Imperial Stout
  6. Divine Rebel – 13.8% Barley Wine (yes, that’s how they spell it…)
  7. Abstrakt – AB:02 – 18% Imperial Red Ale
  8. Tokyo!* – 18.1% – Vanilla Oak Chip Aged Imperial Stout *
  9. Tactical Nuclear Penguin – 32% – (Imperial Stout!?)
  10. Sink The Bismark – 41% – (IPA?!)

(* It’s Tokyo star, by the way, not Tokyo-asterisk, or Tokyo-there’s-a-footnote.)

I’m afraid I didn’t really gather detailed feedback on the beers. There was a plan to do so, but really we all just wanted to get on with imbibing and enjoying. The main idea was to expose some people to beer they wouldn’t normally try, and that we did!

Happy BrewDog Drinkers (and one juice drinker)

The Trashy Blonde and Zeitgeist were the only beers served fridge-chilled. (I think the Bashah works well either way, as does the Devine Rebel.) Both went down well, with little comment. The black larger attracted the most interest, and was labelled Schwarzbier by our token German.

The Bashah was appreciated, but didn’t seem to burn much of a memory into peoples’ minds. I was reading out the labels on the beers prior to tasting, as they’re quite entertaining, and the Bashah piqued some interest from its rambling and “meaningless” blurb. I think the actual beer may have been a let-down for some in contrast to the theatre of the label text.

Next came the Paradox imperial stouts – it seems that these have left the most indelible impression upon the audience. Even now, several weeks later, people mention the Isle of Arran as a favourite if I ask about the beers. If people in the group were to buy and drink any of the beers by preference it seems it would be the Isle of Arran. It has the particular distinction that it was enjoyed even by those who normally don’t drink beer at all. One description of the Arran was “nice combination, extravagant adventure.” The Smokehead, on the other hand, seems to have been less to people’s tastes. I got the impression that there was a feeling of being smacked in the face with, well, smoke. Smokehead is certainly an experience for the uninitiated. The thing is that that initial hit of smoke is mainly in the aroma; but, while distinctive, it comes across in a more mild manner on the palate. Personally, I’m a lover of single malt whiskies and thus might be less sensitive to the smokier flavour in this beer than some. Those who appreciate whisky appreciate the Smokehead I think.

A couple of Tokyo stars

Sadly the Abstrakt AB:02 and Tokyo!* didn’t attract much comment. These were both last-minute additions to the line-up. AB:02 because I’d ordered 6 of them and felt like I could sacrifice one to the tasting. Tokyo!* because one of the tasters, by sheer coincidence, was wearing a Space Invaders t-shirt! The back of the Tokyo!* bottle includes the text: “This is a beer inspired by a 1980’s space invaders arcade game played in Japan’s capital.” (Damn! Now I have one on my desk and I have to try very hard not to drink it!) I have to say, parting with a Tokyo!* is difficult, I really do love this stuff. (Note to self: order more!) Unfortunately it is also on the pricey side, for beer. But realistically the Tokyo!* is certainly in no less a league for flavour and enjoyment than an equivalently priced wine! (In quid-per-millilitre we’re talking about a roughly £20 bottle of wine.)

After the heady 18.1% experience of Tokyo!* came a smack in the face with a Penguin. This was actually my first taste of the Tactical Nuclear Penguin, something I’d call not-quite-beer at a whopping 32% ABV. What they do is explained on their blog (watch the video), like applejack – or scumble (“it’s made from apples, well mainly apples”) – they freeze the water out of the drink thus increasing the ABV. The general feedback was quite positive, with the main word in use being “smoke”. However, like the Smokehead, the smoke is more upfront on the nose than on the palate – and less upfront than in the Smokehead. TNP and Smokehead are quite different drinks of course, one a beer the other, in my opinion, a beerish spirit. I’d say it is certainly rich and caramelly, with a touch of smoke, quite a caramel sweetness too, not just caramel flavours. I’m a whisky drinker, one keen on smoke and peat, and the hint of that whisky cask in the TNP works quite well for me. It isn’t for everyone though, a fellow beer and BrewDog advocate describes TNP as “a cheap gimmick” – harsh!

STB, Hop Nectar

The grand finale was, of course, Sink the Bismark. The experience of the TNP, as good as I think it is, actually pales against Sink the Bismark! The TNP steals character from whisky, that’s the first thing to run through my mind on tasting it, and I appreciate that. The STB is 100% its own unique drink. It’s rarefied essence of hop. It’s a total hop explosion. It’s like having your tongue bashed flat with a bale of hops wrapped around a brick – but in a good way. There’s something special about this STB, it is a drink that surprisingly has merit and value outside of the sensationalism around the crazy idea of a 41% ABV “beer”. This is spirit of hop, perhaps we could call it hopsky? The reaction around the table contained a fair amount of surprise I think. Nobody knew what to expect from this, and nobody was expecting something that was so interesting and enjoyable. The choice quote that puts forward the STB over the TNP was: “Amazement at the quality of STB, not a cheap gimmick like TNP. Maybe that’s just my preference.”

I have another bottle each of STB and TNP and I’m not sure what to do with them. They’re quite something, the STB especially so. I think I’ll be putting them aside, perhaps for at least a decade. Something to crack open on my 40th birthday?

In the end I think it was the Paradox – Isle of Arran that hit a sweet spot in experience, flavour, and strength. It seems the clear favourite from conversations had since the tasting. I myself would rather sip Tokyo!*, but I’m also quite happy with a glass of the Arran in my hand. And I think the Arran may represent the best value for money as a total beer experience. (I note that James Watt’s new venture(?) Musa Aberdeen has an Arran crème brûlée on the menu – I’m intrigued!)

My personal summary of the beers I enjoy the most is: STB and TNP are very rare treats for special times. Tokyo!* is a grand drink to be reserved for moments of decadence. Isle of Arran is a decadent and enjoyable weekly nightcap drink, like a great whisky. And Zeitgeist is my BrewDog session beer, though it does battle in my life with the Bashah – which looses out only in that it is too strong to drink much of on a regular basis.

Finally, the BrewShrine…

The Brew Shrine

Disclosure: Kathlene and I are BrewDog punks, we have one pair of shares between us – it’s a bit of a lark. I was drinking and enjoying BrewDog beer prior to “buying in” of course. We bought in because their innovative Equity for Punks IPO scheme was interesting. Nothing at all to do with the 20% shareholders discount, honestly! ;) We’d have to spend quite a lot of money on beer to break even on cash. Good thing that wasn’t the point! (That said, if BrewDog survive for the long-haul I expect we will break even eventually!) Mainly it is fun. Being a shareholder is fun, you get to see the news first in the shareholders’ forum, get early access to special beer releases, presumably there may be AGMs (which would rock, I’m sure.) Shareholders may even be permitted to pop into the brewery, by advance arrangement… I can vicariously live the dream of being a brewer through these dudes, that’s what I’ve bought in to.