BrewDog beer dinner.
We'd just visited the wonderful BrewDog pub in Camden, and had previously tried the rather extreme Tactical Nuclear Penguin, via a mail-order purchase.
I'm not an expert on beer, and I'm not giving a detailed review of the beers, but just a bit of a flavour of the evening. We were greeted with a small glass of Dead Pony Club, the first of many delicious and interesting beers, the antithesis of the tasteless stuff that had led the creators to start the company in the first place. It was full of flavour and depth. We sat down at communal tables and made new friends. It promised to be a very good evening.
James Watt, an ex-fisherman from Fraserburgh in north-east Scotland, started off by telling us the story behind BrewDog.
Tokyo*, at 18.2% had problems after its label was banned in Scotland as it was seen as encouraging excessive drinking. They followed this up with a statement beer called "Nanny State" at a mere 0.5%, before heading back on track to produce Tactical Nuclear Penguin at 32%; this had the accolade of being the world's strongest beer. Some Germans were determined to recapture this record, producing a beer of 40%, encouraging BrewDog to go one further: the final creation was Sink the Bismarck, at 41%. It is now out of stock; I'm not sure if there's any more on the horizon.
James talked us through each of the eight or nine beers, before we were allowed to try them. He told us that we had to get to know our beer, to commune with it, to say hello to it.
With the first few beers we were given delicious amuse-bouches, the taste of the beer complementing the taste of mouthful, and vice versa. Over the first smaller few courses we were given samples of Punk IPA, Barrel Aged 7.7 Lager, before being supplied with blindfolds, for a blind tasting of AB:08, possibly my favourite of the evening. I took a few snaps around the table while wearing my own blindfold - amazing what you can achieve with good autofocus.Mikkeller, a Danish craft beer company with whom they have had a few collaborations.
Stilton was helped along with the intense, almost chocolate-like Tokyo*, chocolate parfait was paired with the 15% Paradox Jura, a stunning stout aged in old oak whisky casks (you could taste the peaty Jura influence), and finally we got to taste the infamous Tactical Nuclear Penguin, accompanying a Scottish Coffee (the cream was infused with the Penguin for double impact). We toasted "To Evil" and said hello to our beer before hitting our mouths with each wonderful mouthful.
BrewDog pub in Camden, or any other of their bars near you - they're popping up everywhere. I highly recommend the 5am Saint - a lovely rich "iconoclastic amber ale." Beware, though, it may become addictive...