Monday, 30 April 2012

More AGM than party

This weekend saw Brewdog's AGM up in Aberdeen, and a pretty good AGM it was as well.

Though the queue to get in was a bit slow, action was taken to speed this up and the first of the 2 presentations (its was easier to do the same presentation twice and i will come onto that) was delayed by 30 minutes to make sure the majority of people could make it if they wanted.

On arrival we got given our shareholder welcome pack, that included a bottle opener, a badge, a pencil and a poster, and then directed straight into the main hall and man the hall was massive.

There was a bar at each end, a stage in the middle, the Bottle shop along the back wall and a burger van parked up, now being my usual useless self i never thought to take any photos.

A quick visit to the bar and there were the usual suspects : Punk , 77 and Zeightgeist , but in amongst them there was a New Pale ale, now known as 'Dead Pony Club' This was a pretty decent session ale. But there was no sign of the much anticipated Dog A, nor was there any sign of the beer i was most hopping to see :AB09 ( as my bottles haven't arrived yet).

Then it was off to the 1st of the presentations. James and Martin gave a great talk, The presentation was both witty and enlightening, James's hatred of "stuck in their ways: old school drinker" was much explained when we saw just how hard it was to get people to even try Brewdog in those first few months, and Martins passion for the new brewery shone through as he explained the new set up and just how much it was changing. Of particular note to me (as a massive cask lover) was that they were much more diplomatic about cask beer, emphasising that they wanted to go a different direction, but never disparaging cask beer or those who love it. Though very sad for me, as it probably mean i will never see 'The Edge' again. That for me was one of the truly world class beers.

The best thing about the presentations was that we got to sample 3 beers during the talk, first up was the new pale ale, and as i said this was a pretty tasty session ale (rumour has it, that its a replacement for Trashy Blonde in the core range, and as such it is a massive improvement), next up was the Libertine Black Ale, and while another decent beer, there just some flavour in there that im not fond of, But then the third was the Dog A, and this was everything i could have wanted, It was dark rich intense, lots of sweet malt roast, light chilli, simply put this lived up to the Holy Brewdog Beer of AB04.

Of particular note was the military operation of serving 750 each of these beer, and it could not have gone better, the serving staff were amazingly efficient, and very hard working. The only slight disappointment was James had said there was a bottle of Dog A between 4, but when it arrived it was more like a bottle between 6, and given how good it was i definitely wanted more.

 Moving back down stairs to the main hall, and it looked like the bars were a disaster, queues were massive and every one was fighting to get to the bar. Bar staff were working damn hard but there just wasnt enough staff. Except i was wrong there was enough staff and they did a great Job, Even Martin was seen helping out behind the bar. The reason it was so bad at one point was that 750 people had just left a talk and headed straight for the bar, so of course it was chaos, but once that initial rush had been dealt with the service was great.

So all told id like to say it couldnt have been better, but there 2 things (for me) :1 small, 1 large.

The small one is that you could not escape the music, now i was there to drink beer, so the bands were of no interest to me, and i quickly learned to tune them out, so while a quieter are would have been nice, i could live with it.

The Major issue for me was the beer range. Yeah you heard me. The Beer range. Now anyone that knows me, knows im a massive user of Ratebeer and a huge fan of trying new beers. However i knew before going that i wasnt going to get many new beers, and i was cool with that, I was sure the beer range was going to be Awesome and there would be plenty of great beer to choose from.  Well for me that just wasn't the case.

We were told "we will also have a great line up of 12 draft beers" and though there were 12 taps there were only 9 Beers on at any one time.

There were far too many of the standard brewdog range that i can get every day in bottle or on tap at the brewdog bar.

There was only 1 guest tap beer available at any given time.

The Anniversary Beer wasn't available to buy at any point

And the Tokyo that was advertised didn't seem to be on.

All told maybe i have been spoiled, but beer wise this was singularly the worst beer event i have ever attended. Yes as a AGM it was great but as a beer event it was terrible.

But the Kicker for me was when the Bars started tweeting a New Brewdog beer was available one that turned out wasnt  available at the AGM. Maybe i'm a fool, but i would expect the AGM to be the beer star of the day, not the Brewdog Bars. If you lived in London or Edinburgh or anyone of the other cities with a Brewdog bar, you would almost certainly have had a better range of beer than was available at the AGM.

Of the fifteen people i personally knew at the AGM all bar one of them left early, and most of them by 7pm.

I dont know the attendance figures for Events like Darklord Day, Borefts festival, Alvine Craft Beer festival, But they all mange to offer a great range of beers both from themselves and from other breweries, and with 1500 people turning up at a Brewdog event, I would have expected more effort being put into the beer selection. Stone and 3Floyds always seem to have managed to have kept kegs of there stronger beers, that appear years later at special event. Could you imagine the excitement if one of the Barrel age Basha's had appeared on Tap.

So all told a Great AGM, but a pretty disappointing Beer event from what many would argue is the UKs most exciting brewery.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A clean Strike

Part 2 of my London Summary.

My friend who had generously agreed to host me and all my family in London for 5 days over the Easter weekend had said that, he would be away on  one of the days the Egham festival as he always goes to that festival. So after some discussions, i decided that the easiest thing for us all, was to head straight to Egham when we arrived in London on the Thursday and to meet him at the festival (having first determined that children were allowed).

Now i had checked the Egham festival website but details of what to expect were light, so i arrived with no real idea what to expect. But boy was i in for a treat. They had about 80+ beers lined up for the 4 day festival, but only about 35 were on at any one time. About 8 on the normal bar inside and the rest set up as a mixture of stillage and handpumps in the patio outside. While there were no tables inside, we were lucky to get a table outside, this allowed me to settle the kids down with the DS and eeepad where they would play contently all afternoon. Since it wasnt too chilly this turned out to be the best place to have sat, as we were a) near most of the beers, b) there was a chalk board beside us that was VERY clearly marked what beers were on and if they were inside or outside.

Imagine my surprise when i discovered that i had not tried a single beer. I cant remember the last time that walked into a bar with more than 3-4 taps  (or any other festival)  where i had not had even a single beer. Speaking to my friend, he says that he never even checks the beers list, as the festival always has such an amazing beer list. All told i started as is my want with the porters and stouts, and boy were they all in perfect nick and pretty amazing beers, even when i moved onto other styles i was more than impressed. This is a festival that i like my friend would not want to miss if i lived locally and i hope to make it back next year with a little luck.

As an interesting aside, i also got to try some trial brews but a soon to open brewery, Wierd Beard Brewery, All three beers were decent and id not have been annoyed if id spend money on each of them. The stout was a little too fizzy for my liking and the pale hoppy ones were not quite my kind of beer, but all showed great promice and i look forward to seeing what these guys can do in the future. So best of luck guys

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A King Amongst Pubs

In the first of a short series of reports from my Recent London trip, is the reason for the visit.

Every year in a tucked away pub on the outskirts of the London Tube lines a festival takes place. Now many pubs have festivals but few that i have attended have 15+ taps(update: there are 24 taps in total with i think 18 in use this festival) on at once and fewer still have all they're beers (over 60 in total) from only from 1 brewery and they're own brewery at that, because this pub is the King William the 4th, and the brewery is Brodies.

Now i first came across Brodies at the Herriot Watt Beer festival in 2010, when they went south to brew there. But though that beer was fine, it was the Mint Choc Chip stout that caught my eye, and tickled my tastebuds. It was then that my love of a far away brewery started. Having had such a fine beer, i wanted to know more and there is no finer resource than Ratebeer. It quickly became clear that this was a brewery after my own heart, they were a) prolific, b) experimental.

I followed the London crowd, trying more and more beer thats i would have loved to try, but failed miserably to try any(other than the Superior London porter that again was brilliant, and the 22% Elizabethan that i had someone sneak me out a handbottling but they just acted to taunt me in how many great was missing), that was until Ratebeer European Summer Gathering 2011. There were 2 must visit locations for me on that trip(that i had to fit in round my family) one was the newly opened Kernel, the other was the King William.

Then disaster struck. The King William had cellar problems on one of the hottest weekends of the year, there were clearly a few beers that were struggling. The bar staff were quick to replace any that were clearly bad, but there were a few that while not bad, were clearly not living up to their potential. However in amongst them were some great beer and i didn't regret the visit in the slightest, The potential of the Bar and the Brewery were clear and thus it leads onto my trip down there.

Having seen they're previous festival list ( a month or so prior to the Ratebeer gather) i was keen to make this years festival, but having children there are only so many events you can attend. Brodies just wasn't looking likely, that was until a cruel and evil Danish man, decided to hold his festival on the same weekend as my Sons birthday, and suddenly i had a free beer event in my calendar.

So trip down to London, Many thanks to Chris and Ruth for putting the whole family up in there home, A quick trip to Egham festival (report to follow) and off to Day 1(Friday) and Day 2(Sunday) of the Reason we crossed the border.

At first it looked like there were few beers on, but there were still a few ones to excite my tastebuds, and then it became clear that more beers were on but the bloke with the pumpclips had phoned in sick, It might have been better if fake paper clips were made, but we all quicky learned to lean over the bar and read the sticker on the bar side of the tap.

It wasnt long till we noticed that the Elizabethan was on, It was time to try it fresh. It was every thing i remembered. Sweet Sticky Rich Juicy and full of flavour, rich malt and vanilla. Just wonderful though you dont want much,  Now at £2 a third, for a 22% beer this is surely a  bargain. But you'd be wrong. Because all the other beers were £2 a pint. Including the Star of the show for me, Brodies Romanov Empress Stout Rioja BA , as you would expect all the best beers for me where dark, from the Rioja, to its Whisky Brother (maybe one day i will try the base of both of these), to the incredibly intense coffee and hop Columbus for Breakfast through to a collaboration with that evil Danish man Mofo Stout. Also impressing me Stout wise was the Sting in the Tail (with the clue in the name) that clearly had something special going on that i couldnt place, until i was told it had Chillis in it, then it became clear that while not Hot, there was definitely some chilli spice in there.

While not everything impressed me (or at least didnt appeal to my palate) there were 8 beers that scored 4.0/5/0 or higher on my ratebeer scoring, and just to show they were not all dark beers, the Gruit was fruity and full of flavour, that i just couldn't stop guzzling it.

All told, we had a great time, got well watered and well fed at only £6 for a massive main meal, i could not have been happier with my choice of festival.