With the Schools out for Summer and A level results received last week, this time of year is for celebrations and planning for the future. My school days are a distant memory but not wanting to be left behind, and being a keen supporter of life time learning, I leapt at the opportunity to attend “Beer School” at Brewdog Brighton.
If you are not aware of Brewdog where have you been? Since their creation back in 2007 this Scottish craft beer company has been at the forefront of the UK craft beer industry. Started in a small town called Fraserburgh by lifelong friends Martin Dickie and James Watt, Brewdog wanted to shake up the beer world – not literally.
Brewdog’s mission is to make other people as passionate about craft beer as they are. What started as two blokes and a dog has grown into a global brand with 44 bars across the UK and beyond, their mission appears to be working.
Beer school at Brewdog in Brighton offers groups the chance to experience first hand that passion for craft beer that runs through the Brewdog brand. Not only do you learn about the brewing process and ethos behind the craft beer movement but also how to taste craft beer and get the best out of it.
When it comes to beer I would not claim to be an expert, although you could say I am a graduate of the University of life on the subject, and so I was intrigued to learn more. I was also interested in hearing about Brewdog as I had heard lots of mixed opinions and press about the company.
I was greeted by Alex, my host and teacher for the evening, and quickly tucked into a pint of Punk IPA which was freshly kegged. Alex tells me that one of the reasons for opening their own bars was to ensure that Brewdog beer would be served at its absolute best. I have to say it was one of the most refreshing pints of Punk I’d had and was actually slightly mellower than I’d previously experienced. I could really taste the freshness and complexity in the beer compared to when I’ve purchased it bottled or canned.
I’m told this is because they can control how it is stored and kept whereas supermarkets and other pubs might not always have the same quality controls in place. This is something that we discuss further and Alex tells me that Brewdog place quality and consistency at the centre of their production. Throughout the brewing process their beer is subjected to rigorous laboratory testing and if it does not meet their standards it doesn’t leave the brewery, well not for public consumption anyway.
After watching some videos about the company and the brewing process we get started with the tasting. I appreciate that a beer tasting might sound a little ridiculous to some, however, craft beers can really rival wines in terms of depth and complexity. Understanding how to fully experience the beer is vital in appreciating the work that has gone into it, and a lot of effort does go into every one.
We start with “Jet Black Heart”, a milk stout that is as dark as its name suggests. Checking the aroma first I pick up woody notes with a bitter smoked coffee edge. When tasted these flavours continue with a creamy yet dry and bitter finish.
Next up is a Belgian fruit beer which takes me by surprise. I was expecting a red beer along the lines of Kriek or Fruli but this is totally different. It has a powerful aroma of passionfruit and reminds me of Rubicon juice. I’m therefore expecting a very sickly sweet mouth feel but instead it is very dry hopped and reminiscent of a pilsner style beer. It is a really accomplished and delicious beer.
Next up is another dark beer this time one that is aged in whisky barrels. “Bourbon Baby” as you can imagine is a beer with a strong whisky undertone, think vanilla and dried fruits. It has a very interesting taste and weirdly reminds me of Malibu and coke, not that I’ve drank that in a long time I might add.