Monday, 30 November 2009

BrewDog go bonkers

BrewDog have surpassed themselves with their over-inflated egos and naked ambition. They chose -- deliberately, of course -- to launch on the very day the Scottish Parliament was discussing a minimum price for alcohol a "beer" with a strength of
32%. Naturally, the wild buckeroos in Fraserburgh claim this is the world's strongest beer, even though technically it's not beer at all, as brewer's yeast cannot work beyond a strength of 12 or 13 degrees. Clearly the new product, called Tactical Nuclear Penguin (what were you smoking last night, chaps?), was finished with a wine or champagne yeast.
James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said the beer was "completely pushing the boundaries". Indeed, and it's also pushing beyond breaking point what sensible beer writers and connoisseurs will take from this bunch of ego-maniacs. Those of us who attempt to paint an image of beer as a fine drink enjoyed in moderation by sensible people have the ground cut from beneath our feet by BrewDog, which just plays in to the hands of the yellow press, ever anxious to give beer a bad name.
I don't often agree with the likes of Alcohol Concern but I think Jack Law, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, hit the soft spile on the head when he said BrewDog was guilty of "childlike attention-seeking". He added that the fact that the beer, priced at £30 a bottle, had achieved a new record was not admirable. "It's a product with a lot of alcohol in it, that's all. To dress it up as anything else is cynical."


Blogger Alex said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

30 November 2009 at 15:06  
Blogger Alex said...

What absolute twaddle!
How exactly is a company that prides itself on making small-batch, high-quality, expensive products such as the exquisite Tokyo promoting irresponsible drinking?

At £35 a bottle, TNP is hardly something for binge drinkers; it's there serving to show that you can do amazing things with beer beyond the pedestrian fare normally found in most shops.

30 November 2009 at 15:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I've read about it, it's actually brewed with beer yeast, then freeze distilled to raise the concentration of not just the alcohol, but the flavour of the beer.

30 November 2009 at 15:11  
Blogger Richard said...

The Brewdog guys probably are slightly egotistical. Frankly, if I'd started a brewery two years ago that had produced Paradox, Punk IPA, Dogma, Chaos Theory and 5am Saint I'd put their egos to shame.

Come on Mr Protz. They're a craft brewer that do some great beers. Shouldn't this be celebrated? And was your reaction the same for the Samuel Adams limited edition Utopia bottles? Much the same thing, isn't it?

30 November 2009 at 15:14  
Blogger Barm said...

Oh dear Roger. Might I be so bold as to suggest that you take this post down and rewrite it once you've found out how the beer is actually made? This poorly researched rant damages your reputation more than it does BrewDog's.

30 November 2009 at 15:41  
Blogger Eddie said...

Have to agree with Barm here: poorly researched. And I would add, totally inaccurate (champagne yeast at 32%?) and prejudiced.

I rather think you mean that they are rocking the boat: something neither you nor your regional buddies want.

30 November 2009 at 15:54  
Blogger FuzzyDuck said...

There is even a video on Brew Dog's website detailing the process they went through to raise the alcohol level. It doesn't do you any favours to appear willfully ill informed and sloppy. Knee jerk?

Ego maniacs? Fair enough. Ego maniacs who have made one or two great beers whilst putting the noses of so many out of joint to boot.

Could you play your scripted part with any more precision?

30 November 2009 at 16:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear me, "naked ambition" eh?

They should be publicly flogged for their starring role in the "enterprise culture" you so despise, eh Rog?

30 November 2009 at 17:06  
Anonymous Sam said...

Much of the British brewing scene is dominated by moderately bland 3.8% bitters or 5% ESB styles or 4% Golden ales, or occasionally a decent stout or barley wine. Furthermore the marketing is quite boring, with outdated names and usually a picture or reference to the weather or an animal. Surely you should be praising BrewDog for trying something new, exciting, daring, progressive, and marketing in an interesting, funny, attention grabbing way. You use publicity seeking as if it's a bad term? It's companies like BrewDog which might actually put real ale in competition with mainstream Lager companies. As you well know, consumers drink advertising, not beer.

On top of this as other people have pointed out this is both an inaccurate and slightly acidic post. I think it's quite an ingenious beer, and as it's in limited supply, expensive and I assume an aquired taste I would like to know how it encourages dangerous, irresponsible drinking? Surely no more than a Strong Red Wine, a rich Port, a fine Liquer, or a firey Scotch?

30 November 2009 at 17:35  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Roger. Please just ignore them. You are playing into their hands and giving them even more publicity. As you have raised it I think they should be free to brew what they want. If a group of people want to buy and try why not.

You have whisky at 45% gin higher than this, some very strong rums. So why all the fuss. its just more nanny state. People should be left alone to live their lives as they want.

30 November 2009 at 17:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear.

I really cannot see what the problem is with this. You are so set in your ways, that you will not open your mind to anything new, that occurs outside your particular happy zone, you like the old image of old men with beards, drinking ye olde classical ales, and nothing may fall outside your comfort zone.

Perhaps if you actually taste these beers, and tell us why exactly they are crap, instead of simply shunning the idea of them, then you may get more respect here.

Dont get me wrong, I am a Camra member, but its rants like this, that make me seriously want to consider whether I want to keep giving money to the campaign.

30 November 2009 at 18:00  
Anonymous Chris said...

'it's also pushing beyond breaking point what sensible beer writers and connoisseurs will take'

Oh dear, someone is afraid of change it seems... Surely challenging conventions is what people do, its how we evolve and progress as a race? I totally applaud Brewdog and what they are trying to do. Why should anyone accept what is available when they can strive for what is possible.

'Its a product with a lot of alcohol in it, that's all' Well I would say the same about cask strength whisky personally.

If you'd bothered to research how the beer was made (it's described on a short, quite amusing - I'm sure you'd say 'childlike' - promo vid on their website) you'd see that what they have done is genuinely used a revolutionary brewing technique. These guys are treading new ground, challenging attitudes, altering perceptions and breaking convention.

Would you like your toys back in your pram now?

30 November 2009 at 18:39  
Blogger David Easley said...

For a different take on this news (one that seems more in tune with most of the comments here), see Pete Brown's Beer Blog.

30 November 2009 at 19:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glenfiddich make a stronger, cheaper drink yet Roger still accepts awards from them. It's not what you do (He won't even bother to find out about that, he'll just make something up to suit his prejudice e.g.about champagne yeast) it's who you are.

30 November 2009 at 20:41  
Blogger Peter Brissenden said...

Can I also suggest that a little more research goes into the post before your kneejerk reaction.

30 November 2009 at 21:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a load of old rubbish, this is the second article in recent weeks from Roger that totally misses the point.

Time to call it a day perhaps Mr P?

30 November 2009 at 21:47  
Blogger The Beer Adventurer said...

I am so excited to have a bottle of TNP on its way to me. I thoroughly enjoyed Zephyr and Tokyo and will continue to enjoy Brewdog's different and unusual beers, as will most of my 30 something year old mates. We have long been crying out for different and fun things to drink. Brewdog have hit the mark, with the likes of Thornbridge, Moor, Gadds, marble and a few others... praise the different beers that they present, get over your traditional outlook, there are other people who are excited by these beers, and if TNP isn't actually strictly a beer, who cares, if it tastes great, fantastic!

30 November 2009 at 22:03  
Blogger jesusjohn said...

Epic, epic fail.

Ok, ok - I will agree BrewDog reporting their own beer to the Portman Group arguably went 'too far' - though one can still argue the whole process highlighted problems with the regulatory model.

Indeed, you say: 'They chose -- deliberately, of course -- to launch on the very day the Scottish Parliament was discussing a minimum price for alcohol a "beer" with a strength of 32%.'

Yes they did, but - as you'd know if you'd done the slightest research - BrewDog supports minimum pricing (you yourself point out it costs £30 per bottle for god's sake!):

'The Portman Group have great influence. For them to dismiss the Scottish Government’s minimum price per unit proposals was disgusting.'

You add a word of support for Alcohol Focus Scotland. Of course, BrewDog have addressed this 'think of the children' twaddle:

'Beer has a terrible reputation in Britain, it’s ignorant to assume that a beer can’t be enjoyed responsibly like a nice dram or a glass of fine wine.'

As a previous poster posits - do you disagree with this? Should whisky distilleries be hauled up for their marketing of considerably cheaper, more boozy beverages?

By all means get hold of a bottle, taste it, objectively review it and - if you believe so - say 'this is just hype'.

But this ill-informed rant, which is highly prescriptive over what a beer is, I might add - as has The Beer Adventurer above - helps no-one and seems only to confirm the view many have of you as a stuck-in-the-mud conservative (lower case 'c', evidently!)

30 November 2009 at 23:14  
Blogger Keith said...

Time to hang up your pen Roger. You are way off base and maybe should get a new hobby, like mind reading or something. Oh wait, you don't do that very well either. Well, maybe something will come to you, knitting maybe? Bad Blog, bad. Time to go outside.

1 December 2009 at 05:18  
Blogger Keith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 December 2009 at 05:20  
Blogger Mark said...

It seems the BrewDog lobbyists are getting as vocal as the smokers and the CAMRA members...

I consider myself a beer writer and a 'connoisseur' and I think this is a brave and bold move. They upset a lot of people by reporting Tokyo* but with this one they have come out (relatively speaking) understated and they have let the internet explode with the story. Ego-maniacs? No. Progressive brewers and marketers? Yes.

The UK needs a brewery like BrewDog right now. The US is so influential to our new and young brewers and this burst of creativity is only helping to promote British beer. As a young drinker this is what I want to drink. And beer is getting better because of them and others - the bells and whistles are just them trying to be seen. They are promoting real, craft beer in the UK, albeit just a bit more vocally than others.

And beer is a 'fine drink enjoyed in moderation by sensible people'. I disagree. Beer is a fun drink enjoyed (in moderation, sometimes) by social people.

1 December 2009 at 05:53  
Anonymous John said...

A quick look around Mr P's blog would hint that the BrewDog boys aren't the only ones courting controversy to drive publicity (something which unlike Mr P, they have never denied). An average post seems to attract 3 or 4 comments, I'm guessing the web stats are nothing amazing.

Add a dash of BrewDog to his ramblings and all the associated scandal, excitement and debate which they bring to the table and all of a sudden you have comments in their 20's, link being banded about on Twitter and, I'm guessing, a couple of zero's on the end of the Web Stats figures.

I think Mr P might actually be a more clever human than we give him credit. His intelligence may even rival that of Bracken, Mensa member and the canine genius behind BrewDog.

His bizarre, factually in-correct and darn right confused rants about BrewDog are not born of some deep rooted hatred of this progressive, rebellious and creative Brewery, they are just his way of injecting a dash of Punk attitude into his otherwise fairy tedious drinks blog.

Quite clever really.

Look at us, we're all reading it. I'd never even heard of this old guy till he started going off on one like my Gran at Christmas when she's been on the Sherry and can't hear the Queen's speech.

Yip, my bet is Mr P kicks back in the evening with a Last of the Summer Wine Boxset, a pair of tartan slippers and cheeky bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin.

1 December 2009 at 06:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The world's leading beer authority?" (self-proclaimed)

Not on this evidence.

Pride before a fall, Mr P...

1 December 2009 at 09:23  
Blogger TaleOfAle said...

Well done John, you summed up my thoughts exactly.
I had never heard of this blog myself, then again I am sure there are many I have not heard of.

In actual fact, if the author does in fact hate brewdog then his ranting about them serves only to increase peoples awareness of them.
Bad publicity is as good as good publicity.

1 December 2009 at 10:46  
Blogger Curmudgeon said...

So does Jack Law think that the Scottish producers of cask-strength 63% ABV malt whiskies are guilty of "child-like attention seeking"? TNP is weaker than any product officially recognised as Scotch Whisky and BrewDog say themselves it should be sipped like a spirit. BrewDog may have their faults, but it's good to see someone trying to push the boundaries a bit rather than staying within a cosy comfort zone.

1 December 2009 at 10:58  
Anonymous Gazza Prescott said...

Once again you put across your backward views. You and your CAMRA scum should embrace the future.
Wake up and smell the hops

1 December 2009 at 11:22  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

I shall reply ASAP -- just looking for a flak jacket.
As for Mr Prescott, I hope you will all agree there is no place here for someone who uses the term "scum".

1 December 2009 at 11:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bang! Too late, you've already been shot down.

1 December 2009 at 13:47  
Anonymous The Beer Wench said...

A Rose By Any Other Name?

The four essential ingredients in beer are as follows: water, yeast, malt & hops.

Depending on the region in which the beer in produced and the ingredients are sourced, each of those four ingredients has a tremendous amount of variability.

There is no "one" type of malt required to make beer.

Just as there is no "one" type of hops.

The argument being made is that this couldn't possibly be a beer because of the different strands of YEAST used to create it.

Last time I checked, there was no universal law against the use of "champagne" yeast. Brewers all over the world are experimenting with different yeast strands. Like malt & hops, yeast is an essential ingredient that comes in many shapes & forms.

The recent trend in super high alcohol beers makes me think that a category needs to be created for them to have a "place" in the beer world.

The best analogy I can have for this is wine & port wine and sherry. Wine, port & sherry are all made from the same ingredients: wine & yeast. Heck, even Vermouth is made with the same ingredients. Although both sherry and port are much more concentrated and higher in alcohol, they are both considered wines. However, they do have the label "fortified wines".

Which brings me to the argument, why can't we have "fortified beers"??

I, for one, am all in favor of pushing the limits in craft beer experimentation. It makes the landscape unpredictable and exciting. Craft beer is supposed to be fun and crazy. If we wanted pretentious people in our industry, we'd all have been wine enthusiasts instead.


1 December 2009 at 18:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are ridiculous and need to look at the international brewing community closer. the "freeze distilled" method they are using is a new frontier....get over it and let them do their thing

1 December 2009 at 21:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is playing with science, a lab so to speak. I have to agree with Wenchie on this one. The boundaries are there to be pushed and knocked over. Otherwise we will never move forward and learn new ways to make beer, or ancient ways for that matter. Your whole argument revolves around yeast. Take a look at all the ancient beers re-created lately using yeast that are not always used in beer. I suggest you go have a boring English bitter and pay no mind to those wicked brewer's behind the curtain.

1 December 2009 at 21:26  
Blogger rmcassady said...

and i suppose that Scottish chefs should just stop inventing new items since Haggis is already perfected? If you are so keen to classify things, perhaps you should look up the definition of journalist...

1 December 2009 at 21:40  
Anonymous chris said...

Seems to me Brew Dog are more about marketing than making good beer.

Does the art of brewing really need it's boundaries pushed ?

What next, snail porridge lager and bacon ice cream porter ?

With the exception of using a champagne yeast which I pesonally have no problem with, this article pretty much hits the nail on the head.

That's not to say i'm sure this company will enjoy a degree of sucsess in the short term. That is if they don't dissapear up their own backsides first.

2 December 2009 at 23:12  
Blogger Harry said...

You guys are rather harsh on poor Protz. He is a respected veteran of the beer world. If you disagree with his opinion, fine, but the references to his character and age are coarse.

3 December 2009 at 06:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another example of CAMRA acting as Beer Nazis. Roger, come on...get with the program! When are you going to realise that your close minded thinking is exactly what is wrong with a progressive beer culture?

American beers like Moosedrool are sold as "beer" at the GBBF (even though they are "fake" according to CAMRA rules), but a British drink can't be a "beer" unless it conforms the the CAMRA's rules. When will Roger just go ahead and say that he wishes that CAMRA had parliamentary power to declare beer style? The whole point of CAMRA was to make sure that beer would be diverse. Now CAMRA wants homogenisation.

Roger, get your flak jacket. You'll need it to cover your hypocrisy!

4 December 2009 at 20:11  
Anonymous William Smith said...


"If you disagree with his opinion, fine, but the references to his character and age are coarse."

I suggest you go back and read Rog's article. (There seems to be a big emphasis from the Roger camp on not reading, but trust me, it has its uses.)

Mr P seems pretty quick off the mark to lay into the character of the BrewDog boys and also makes some pretty libelist comments with reference to them smoking narcotics.

Plenty of fairly derogative references to James and Martin's character and their youth... pot and kettle perhaps?

5 December 2009 at 17:02  
Blogger Gazza Prescott said...


Actually that wasn't me posting before...

... but I do agree that you're well out of touch on this (and most other stuff you come out with, such as crystal malt).

11 December 2009 at 21:10  

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