Weekend of Beer: Beer School at BrewDog Birmingham

Back in 2007 BrewDog was founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie and since then the independent brewery has become the largest of it’s kind in Scotland and exports it’s range of beers all over the world. I’ll write more about BrewDog at a later date because it really is a fascinating company. But for now I’m going to talk about the BrewDog Beer School.

Hosted at one of BrewDog’s ten bars in Scotland and England you can learn all there is to know about BrewDog, the brewing process and some great tips on knowing your craft beer. BrewDog has a simple ethos. It’s a big “fuck you!” to the big bland beer companies of the world.

At BrewDog we are on a mission to open as many people’s eyes as possible. It is time to reclaim your freedom to decide what is in your glass regardless of what monolithic beer brands and their TV commercials want you to think.

The delightful Karianne got me the beer tasting for my birthday (Oh Groupon, aren’t you lovely?) so even though my birthday was back in January I headed down to BrewDog Birmingham yesterday afternoon.

The Beer School started off with a introduction into the brewing process which in itself was fascinating. It makes me want to try to brew something myself but I can tell now it will all end in tears.

Dead Pony Club
ABV 3.8% Malts Spring Blend, Cara and Crystal Malts
Hops Simcoe, Citra and HBC

The first beer we tried was Dead Pony Club, a dry hopped American style IPA. Now, usually I don’t like IPAs but I think the more citrus-y taste that the American IPAs have has won me over. Both refreshing and with different flavours this was a really nice beer. And, at 3.8%, possibly the only BrewDog baby (puppy?) that wouldn’t have me on the floor after an evening of quaffing.

5am Saint
ABV 5%
Malts Maris Otter, Caramalt, Munich Malt, Crystal and dark crystal malts Hops Nelson Sauvin, Amarillo
Dry Hops Simcoe, cascade, centennial. ahtanum, Nelson Sauvin

Named after the shift workers at BrewDog who’d bring in coffee and sarnies for the night shift at 5am (or one of several other reasons) this was a gorgeous beer and likely to be my most drunk BrewDog offering. Red ales are usually my favourite and this amber example was a delicious mix of hoppy and caramel flavours.

Punk IPA
ABV 5.6%
Malts Marris Otter Extra Pale Malt
Hops Chinook, Simcoe, Ahtanum, Nelson Sauvin

BrewDog’s flagship ale. Hugely popular though personally I’ll always go for the darker ales.

Libertine Black Ale
ABV 7.2%
Malts Maris Otter, Caramalt, Munich Malt, Dark Crystal Malt, Carafa
Hops Simcoe
Definitely my favourite of the ales we tasted. Initially the stout lover inside me got very excited but then I drank it and was confused. Looks like a stout, smells like a stout but actually it’s an IPA. Just a black IPA. A contradiction in terms but delicious with it. It very much tastes like an IPA but with the chocolate and coffee flavours (personally I got very strong chocolate flavours from it) that you’d traditionally associate with a stout. At 7.2% the ale really doesn’t taste it. Something I could easily drink a few of and not notice the percentage until I was mumbling incoherently into the carpet. That thought didn’t stop me from buying a bottle for later this week though.

Hardcore IPA
ABV 9.2%
Malts Maris Otter, Crystal malt, Caramalt
Hops Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe
Dry Hops Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe

Punk IPA but cranked up to 11 (well, 9.2% technically). Now, I see why the double hopped IPA is one of the most popular of the core range but personally the hops where a hop too far for me. Though a delicious ale the sharp edge of the hoppy flavour wasn’t to my taste. Not to say I’d never drink it again though.

 

After the tasty I went and found Karianne again who was sat in the bar with her face in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As my job is to find ales for my trusty sidekick to try I got us a couple of halves of Dead Pony Club to go with the outrageously delicious chicken wings that BrewDog sell. Beer next to me, BBQ-y fingers and acoustic music from the live set that BrewDog Birmingham hosts every Monday in my ears and the bar has definitely won me over.

Check out the Beer School handbook available on the BrewDog website and I highly recommend you go to the Beer School yourself if you too like to get all geeky about beer.

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