Ah, Brewdog. Love them for their unique take on marketing & sales ploys or hate them for their recent trademark disputes & TSG investment plans.
Regardless of what people may think, it’s safe to say that they are here for the long haul.
We first got involved in Brewdog when they opened their bar here in Cardiff back in 2014. With their amazing food, knowledgeable staff and unique range of craft beers, we jumped on board for the ride.
Later putting some money into the business with their Equity for Punks scheme, seeing them grow and grow.
As a part of their recent AGM in 2017, they took everyone back to where it all started for their 10th anniversary and re-released a trilogy of their original beers.
With my pack arriving a couple of weeks back, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do a feature and review the beers with a couple of comparisons for good measure.
Without further ado, lets kicks this feature off.
The story goes that Brewdog owners James Watt and Martin Dickie came first, second, third and fourth place in a beer competition run by Tesco back in 2008.
Tesco agreed to bringing in Brewdog’s beers to 500 of their stores, which would result in buying upwards of 2000 cases a week.
At this point, James and Martin were still filling bottles by hand and need a solution to speed up their production in order to maintain such a large order.
They visited their original bank at the time (Bank of Scotland) and asked for £150,000 in order fund their production improvement. Unfortunately they were turned down the loan due to apparently missing payments on their original £20,000 loan to set up the business.
James and Martin took a chance on HSBC, saying ““our bank had offered us an amazing deal, but that if you can match it we’ll switch“.
HSBC actually went for the offer and provided the cash they needed to upgrade their facilities. The rest is now history.
Fast forward to current day Brewdog, and things really are on the up.
A brewery in Ohio, a successful crowdfunding venture for “The Doghouse” hotel in Columbus and a massive £100 million investment from TSG Consumer partners to help bring their 5 year plan forward sooner, as well as take advantage of the global growth opportunity they have built for themselves.
It would seem a fitting tribute on the back of all this success to go back to where it all started and try out the original trilogy of beers to see how they hold up against their current brethren.
Lets take a look.
Brewdog • The Physics • 5.0 % ABV • Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
A hopped up amber ale which was actually the precursor to the 5AM Saint we all know and love today.
The Physics won the award for Worlds Best Amber Beer in the World Beer Awards 2007.
The extra pale, caramalt, crystal & dark crystal malts provide a complex, sweet malt character whilst the Amarillo & Brambling Cross hops deliver delicate blackcurrant and citrus. Both are described as working in perfect harmony whilst complimented by a crisp, dry and bitter finish.
The Physics is amber brown in colour with perfect clarity. It produces a light tan head which lingers for some time after pouring. This amber ale certainly looks rich from the colour and the head texture alone.
The aroma shares subtle caramel malt sweetness in the aroma but pushes lots of fruit from the hops. the caramel malts really come into their own at the retro nazal stage.
The caramel malts and veinous fruit of raisins & dates from the hops balance fairly well in the flavour. This leads into a burnt toffee bitterness at the end which has a little sweetness. It’s this burnt toffee that throws the balance out slightly.
The physics is a medium bodied amber ale with a low to medium level of carbonation. Full of rich flavour and offering the sensation of warmth through the richness.
A very good amber ale which has plenty of caramel malts and fruitiness from the hops which balance fairly well. The bitterness at the end from the crystal malts tastes almost burnt and needs reducing in order to balance perfectly.
Of course, 5AM Saint did just that and shows what subtlety and malt control can do for a beer with its clean, hoppy and vibrant elements.
Where 5AM saint is clearly a vegan beer based on the logo found at the back of the bottle, we weren’t sure whether the same could be said for The Physics.
One interesting thing to mention here is that the bottle states First Gold hops were used as part of the brew, however the DIYDog recipe quotes Amarillo & Brambling Cross.
This raises my suspicions as to how close to the original recipe The Physics really is.
Brewdog • Punk IPA• 6.0 % ABV • Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
With a Slightly higher ABV than the current 5.6% variation, made purely with extra pale malts and loaded with Ahtanum, Chinook, Crystal & Motueka hops. The original Punk IPA is one of the flagship beers that kicked things off and is causing quite a stir online with slightly lower scores and mixed reviews.
I had an opportunity to try the two on draught and the original did have the strengths of Head Retention and clarity.
The original Punk IPA poured with a light golden colour and produced a perfectly clear head which sits around for as long as the current Punk IPA though was cloudier than the current Punk IPA.
Unfortunately, The flavour and aroma of the Original Punk where somewhat spoiled. There seemed to be lots of dull, musty and almost vegetable elements which made both smelling and tasting very unpleasant. The Original Punk ended up going down the sink.
We certainly don’t get the tropical aromas and hoppy aromas we got on draught and think it may be a problem with the bottle itself.
On communicating with Brewdog and explaining the feedback above, the response was:- “Original Punk IPA isn’t dry hopped, which is why you don’t get the same tropical and hoppy aromas you get from the current version of Punk. We’ve tasted the bottles here in the office and get the same sort of aroma“.
DIYDog provides the following on the original Punk IPA:-
“While it may surprise you, this version of Punk IPA isn’t dry hopped but still packs a punch! To make the best of the aroma hops make sure they are fully submerged and add them just before knock out for an intense hop hit.”
The “Intense hop hit” was missing from our bottle. Brewdog.com are satisfied that there was no problem with our bottle despite my explanation and since closed the case pending no investigation or replacement.
This was a really disappointing result and outcome based on our huge support for Brewdog and being Equity for Punks supporters.
At this point, the jury is out on the Punk IPA comparison.
Brewdog • Hop Rocker • 5.5 % ABV • Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Last in the bunch is Hop Rocker which is Brewdog’s first try at a lager and the final of the original trilogy.
With a 100% malt base of extra pale, caramalt and Munich to offer a sweet balanced complexity as well as Cascade, Saaz, Motueka & Chinook hops for tropical juice and peppery spice, Hop Rocker is promised to be a high quality and top-notch lager.
There isn’t a beer to compare this one to, so it will be enjoyed in its own right.
Hop Rocker is deep gold in colour with a pure white head offering great retention. Although pretty dark for a lager, it was crystal clear.
The lager has a malty, grainy and crisp aroma with a little spiciness and zest which comes from the hops. There was a little dankness in the aroma too.
The flavour offered lots of malt at the front which led to a dry, citrus and spicy hoppiness in the middle. This leads to a light, zesty and citric bitterness at the end which lasts and lasts.
Hop Rocker has a smooth, creamy and chewy texture which felt slightly heavier than your typical mass-produced lager but was still quite pleasant. I’m not sure it’s a crisp and easy lager for the summer but in its day, it would likely have stood out.
A pleasant lager, but doesn’t stand the test of time based on my taste buds. I would have no problem enjoying another but it’s not a lager that wows me.
The fruitier flavours of the hops start to come into their own as the beer gets closer to room temperature.
There you have it. If you have had an opportunity to try any of the bottles in the original Brewdog Trilogy, then visit @biertaster and let me know what you thought.