BREWDOG – BRISTOL

BrewDog
Baldwin Steet
Bristol
BS1 1QW

NINTH VISIT: THURSDAY 4 DECEMBER 2014

Not one. Not two. But three visits in one day.

The initial plan had been to go shopping and then, and only then, go drinking. Sadly, that plan didn’t come to fruition. As is often the case when I hit Bristol my first port of call was Baldwin Street. I wanted a Hoppy Christmas but there was no Hoppy Christmas at the inn. Actually, the choice was a little limited as they were starting to get ready for the Siren tap takeover that was happening that evening. I ordered a Zeitgeist and took a seat. The place was sparsely populated. Only myself, one member of staff and a couple who had just popped outside to share a fag. There was a faint rotting cabbage odour that made it easy to leave after just the one beer. I’d planned to go to Fopp and then Rise but instead of going the more direct route straight down Baldwin Street I decided to walk along Welsh Back then cut up King Street. Uh-oh.

While walking from Colston Yard I’d hoped to stumble upon the newly opened Belgian beer bar, the Strawberry Thief. I knew it was somewhere between the Yard and BD but it wasn’t on the route I took. It was roughly 4pm but my concept of time was getting a little hazy. The place was still relatively quite but the staff were gearing up for the evening’s shenanigans. I asked manager Lucy where the Strawberry Thief. Ah, it’s on that street. This visit I decided to try the Konnichiwa Kitsune. It was a pretty tasty little number. The staff were whipping a batch of mulled Dogma. I quite fancied giving it a go but it was quite ready. Then I heard it was going to be four quid for a third pint, which seemed a little pricey. Perhaps the cost of electricity has gone up again. I left on a quest for the Strawberry Thief.

It had gone six so the Siren beers would be on so I headed back to where it had all began six or so hours earlier. The place had filled up nicely but I couldn’t see any of the Siren crew. I looked at their beer list. There was nothing super-exciting on it. It was all core range or stuff I’d encountered before on many occasions. I asked for a Broken Dreams. I knocked it back in a couple of gulps then left and undertook the long stagger to the train station.

BDB Tim Burton

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EIGHTH VISIT: THURSDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2014

I was in Bristol to see The Wedding Present play Watusi, which is very possibly my favourite album of all-time. Naturally, I made sure I had enough time for a few pre-gig beverages. As it was Stout Day I ordered a Cocoa Psycho but, as is the BD Bars way, it was served way too cold so I ordered a Lobos from Mikkeller and Fort Point to give the stout a little bit of warming up time. Lobos is billed and an experimental IPA, or so the dude behind the bar told me. It was okay. Kind of like a slightly sour barley wine. The Cocoa Psycho was still a little on the cold side so I popped back to the bar and bought a half of the Wild Beer & Fyne Ales Cool As A Cucumber, which, via the magic of the hopinator, has been jazzed up with lime peel and mosaic hops. It cost £3 (after EFP discount) for a half pint. When I sat back down it dawned on me that it is only £4.90 a pint (without discount). That’s a crazy bit of mathematics! The stout still wasn’t at optimum drinking temperature but it was getting towards stage time so I scooped it down and departed.

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SEVENTH VISIT:THURSDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2014

Two visits that were split by a Wayne Hussey solo gig at the Bierkeller.

The night before Dieu du Ciel were in town and had staged a meet the brewer and tap takeover at BrewDog. As a rule I don’t work Thursdays so I’d initially planned to attend but circumstances dictated otherwise and I work a full five days in a row. (Oh the indignity!) But it wasn’t too disastrous as I knew I was going to be in Bristol the very next day for an acoustic goth gig and I’d have a little bit of time to mop up the DDC dregs. I asked a couple of folk I know what two beers they’d recommend if I only had time for two. Other people also chipped in with suggestions and the overall winners were Moralité and Aphrodisiaque. My favourite bartender was behind the bar working his last shift before jetting of to Colorado for an epic beer tour and to attend the GABF. (Scumbag!)

There were still a wide range of DDC beers to choose from but I decided to go with the two that had been recommended. Moralité is a 6.9% IPA that’s brewed in collaboration with The Alchemist (of Heady Topper fame). It’s a damn fine IPA. Not the finest I’ve ever had but I’d more than happily drink many many more just to be certain. The Aphrodisiaque was another great tasting beer but I felt it could’ve done with another 4 or 5% being chucked onto the ABV.

Time to go see Hussey…



… who was far better than I was expecting him to be.

The beer in the Bierkeller was poor so I’d quelled my thirst with a couple of cans of cider so now I was wanting something super tasty to bring the evening to a suitable close (and I wanted the Great White North Badge on Untappd). I decided to go for a Rosee d’Hibiscus and, to win me my badge, a Peche Mortel. The Rosee d’Hibiscus tasted like strawberries and cream sucky sweets – an interesting diversion but not one you’d want to consume all day long. The Peche Mortel was a very pleasant stout but one I felt needed and extra 2 or 3% chucked onto the ABV.

There we go. Two visits. Four beers. All four very tasty (although the stouts needed a bit more boom!) The winner was the first win I tried – Moralite. Maybe one day I’ll get to try a Heady Topper.

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SIXTH VISIT: SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2014

It’s becoming a bit of a tradition that when I’m on my solo pub crawls around Bristol I pay two visits to BrewDog – one of the way in and one on the way out – and today was no exception.

After having two excellent Wiper & True beers up the Goods Yard I decided I may as well have another of the beers. Triptych, and I might be making this up, is a brewed blend of three W&T beers. Anyway, it makes no difference what it actually is because what it actually is is ace. I first tried Wiper & True at the Bristol Beer Week fundraiser last year and really enjoyed the beers of theirs that I tried. A year on and they continue to impress me more with every beer.

I sat down to enjoy my beer and noticed that Andy was in the pub. Such a realisation prompted me send the following Tweet: ‘I’m in @BrewDogBristol and @BrewDogBarAndy isn’t here – I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.’ Within a few moments he replied that he was on his way. He’s a damn good lad is Andy. I wanted to be heading up the hill to check out what the Colston Yard was up to now it was under new management – management that promised to return the Yard to it’s former beer glory. But. There’s always a but when you try to leave a BrewDog pub. But I decided to ask Jenny a question that I’d been meaning to ask online for a few weeks: Is This.Is.Lager just a rebrand of Fake Lager or is it an entirely new product? It’s a new product. I ordered a pint. It was decent. It’s not likely to make me away from the like of Jackhammer or Dead Pony too often but should it ever make an appearance in cans it would be the perfect beer to stock up the fridge with when the sunny times return. Andy hadn’t arrived by the time my pint was finished. I’d no doubt catch on my back through in an hour or two…

… after a visit to the Colston Yard and, an initially unplanned detour, to Small Bar I arrived back at BrewDog. Andy was on duty, as was manager Lucy. I started my second visit with an ABCED from Wiper & True. I don’t know why it’s called ABCED but I believe I was told. Next up was a hit of Hardcore. For a while Punk was the BrewDog beer that was the poorest shadow of its former self but at the moment I think that it’s Hardcore that holds that dubious distinction. I felt I was just getting in the way of couples and groups so I left but not before I’d once again written DEAD on the bar using beer mats. Oh I’m so fucking hilarious. NOT.

BD Pirates

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FIFTH VISIT: THURSDAY 28 AUGUST 2014

When walking from the Grain Barge to The Exchange you pretty much have to walk right past BrewDog so it would’ve been rude not to pop in for two or three. And, besides, I had to meet the main man of Bristol Beer Week to buy a (a specially made fatboy sized) t-shirt off of him.

As I looked at the beer boards I knew there was a beer that I especially wanted to try but I couldn’t remember what it was. Then I remembered. And it wasn’t on the board. Evidently, Stone’s Wee Erky had been finished earlier that day. No big deal – there were still plenty of tasty delights up for grabs. I decided to start with an old favourite: I Hardcore You. As usual, Molly asked if I’d like a sample. She’s the only Bristol BrewDogger who still asks if I’d like a sample. I can only assume that she looks upon me as the old man I am and thinks that I’ve inadvertently stumbled unawares into her bar and she’s being nice being by trying to save me some cash and a crazy and unpalatable taste sensation. As usual, I declined the sample. We decided to go outside where it was less crowded and cooler. The I Hardcore You seemed to be in fine form so it was glugged down super quick. Acid Mothers Temple weren’t due to be on stage until after nine and we had no desire to see the support band (having seen them before and not en joyed them) so it seemed like a good idea to hang around in BD for a little longer. I decided that drink number two would be a pint of Gyp Wit from relative newcomers to the world of beer, Gypsy Inc. I’d heard folk say that Gypsy Inc. is some sort of collaboration between BrewDog and Mikkeller and that all their beers are rubbish. Well, Mikkeller are definitely involved and as BrewDog are selling the beers I guess that means they are also involved so the first point is true. The Gyp Wit was pretty decent. Not remarkable. But certainly not rubbish. So I guess that means the second point is 100% inaccurate.

While scoring my Gyp Wit I had a wee chat with my favourite Bristol BrewDogger, Andy. He wasn’t working. It was good to see him on the other side of the bar. Back outside Manager Lucy was chatting to my girlfriend. I’d later learn that my girlfriend had informed Lucy that her soft drink range (or BrewDog’s to be exact) is rubbish. She does have a point. ‘Craft’ beer is great but ‘craft’ soft drinks seems like an unnecessary indulgence. I left the two of them talking and nipped back inside for a Cocoa Psycho. Since the move to the new brewery some of BrewDog’s heavily hopped beers have taken a bit a quality tumble but the same can’t be said for their stouts. BD have always brewed great tasting stouts but they’ve been reaching new heights over the last year or so. I’d love to see a return of Lumberjack but in it’s absence I’ll more than happily drink Cocoa Pyscho.

AMT stage time was fast approaching. It was time to go.

The next time I’m in BrewDog Bristol will be during the forthcoming Bristol Beer Week…

BBW 2014

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FOURTH VISIT: FRIDAY 18 JULY 2014

Two visits for the price of one!

Andy was on duty. He’s from Scotland. Every BrewDog bar should have at least one Scot on the payroll. I like Andy. He’s one of the best staff members I’ve encountered in a BD bar (or any drinking establishment). I’m certain he’d be a great BD bar manager. We chatted about beer and general nonsense then he dropped the bombshell that he is going to Denver for the GABF. I love Denver. I no longer like Andy.

Andy suggested I try a hit of Founders Rübæus. It was good so I thought I may as well go for a whole glassful. It’s very probably the best raspberry beer I’ve ever tasted… admittedly the competition isn’t overly stiff.

I decided to have another drink before heading to the ticket shop to buy tickets for the forthcoming gigs by Acid Mothers Temple and The Phantom Band. But what should I have, what should I have… of course, I should have been enjoying Enjoy By but a customs hold up had destroyed that little dream. The night before I’d decided to bring my growler with me and fill it with something tasty but when it came time to stuff stuff in my manbag I couldn’t be arsed carrying the growler so it got left at home. As I stared at the beer boards wondering what to drink next I saw the reason I’d planned to bring the growler – Mikkeller Green Gold . Damn! I eased the pain by having a one on the premises. Then I said my goodbyes and headed off.

On the way back out of town I popped in for a swift hit of BD’s Jamsmine IPA and a can of Ten FIDY to go.

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THIRD VISIT: FRIDAY 30 MAY 2014

I was in town for a gig: Melt-Banana and decided that after last week’s annoying visit to BD I should give the place a chance to redeem itself. The place was busy but seemed devoid of the idiots that had taken over the place the previous Friday. Barman Andy wished me a happy birthday – obviously he’d been paying attention to Twitter.

I ordered a Mikkeller Schwarzbier. It was acceptable enough but not a patch on the Schwarzbiers that German breweries create. Next up was a Paradox Heaven Hill. In my opinion big hefty stouts are what BrewDog excel at and this one was no exception. It a dark and complex but prefectly formed brew. Lovely stuff.

It was tempted to have another beer but decided to drift back over the river and have a pre-gig beverage at the Seven Stars.

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SECOND VISIT: FRIDAY 23 MAY 2014

When did the assholes takeover BrewDog Bristol?

Not a pleasant visit. As soon as I walked in I could tell the place was populated by drunken dicks. There was a group of lads near the entrance who were taking great delight in making it as difficult as possible for anyone to get past. When I said excuse me they just stood a glared at me with a drunk arrogant fuck look on their faces. I didn’t ask a second time and shoved my way through the middle of them. I expected some comment or abuse but to their credit they said nothing. I made it to the bar and ordered a Titan and an AB:16. They place was rammed and I didn’t fancy my air being polluted by the ignorant space hoggers so I made my way back outside. The same scenario that greeted my arrival heralded my departure.

My girlfriend had headed straight to the toilet and on her return she didn’t see me at the bar so assumed that I had gone to the gents and subsequently waited at my usual bar spot for my return. I willed her to turn round and look out of the window so I could attract her attention and get her to head outside. I tried phoning her but the music was being pumped out at a volume that made it impossible for folk to hear their phones. I didn’t fancy have a third round with the assholes as I felt it might finally lead to fisticuffs and me lying broken on the floor. I could see Andy passing my girlfriend a cloth but couldn’t quite make out what happened. I finally caught my girlfriend’s attention and she joined me outside. I asked why she was handed a cloth. A manky bastard had puked all over the bar and the floor and my girlfriend had received a bit of collateral damage. Not the kind of thing you expect to happen at a BrewDog bar. The offender was ejected quickly and leaned against a lamppost while his friend tried to convince the bouncers that they had no legal right to refuse anybody a drink. Eventually the two drunk buddies staggered off down Welsh Back holding on to each.

But what about my drinks? The Titan was okay but a little past it best. The AB:16 had the aroma of a wet dog and tasted only marginally better.

Not the greatest ever trip to a BrewDog Bar.

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FIRST VISIT: SATURDAY 18 JANUARY 2014

The winner of my Drinking Establishment of 2013 award. BrewDog Bristol has everything you need from a quality boozer: great beer, great staff and, regardless of the time you visit, a great atmosphere. I always feel a little special whenever I walk through the door of BDB. Of course, I am a little bit special.

After several pre-gig beers in the Three Tuns, TFRNV, Beer Emporium and Small Bar we hit the Academy for a Half Man Half Half Biscuit gig. BrewDog would have to wait. The gig was excellent. So excellent that between the gig venue and BrewDog I managed to fall over and walk out in front of an ambulance and consequently fall over again. Oops.

The bar was buzzing but thankfully not too rammed as my back was hurting like hell and I needed some space. I ordered a Gigantic IPA, which I think was almost as tasty as my back was sore. I chatted to a few folk that I know and probably pissed off a few folk that I don’t know. The Gigantic was gone so I ordered a Plank Dunkler Weizenbock. I was happily supping away at my Plank and then my friend reprimanded me for drinking half of his AB:14. Oops. I finished the Plank. It was time to go home.

CRAFT BEER RISING – LONDON

Craft Beer Rising
Old Truman Brewery
19 Brick Lane
London
E1 6QL

FIRST VISIT: SATURDAY 22 FEBRUARY 2014 (AFTERNOON SESSION)

Craft Beer Rising launched in 2013. Even before it had opened its doors to the paying public the word on the street was that it was nothing more than a corporate wank fest. By the time it had gently shepherded out the last of its drunken punters that word on the street was that it was nothing more than a corporate wank fest but it was also whatever you chose to make of it. In due course the 2014 edition was announced and I initially had no plans to go. But then I was informed that the Saturday sessions were taking place on the same Saturday as a gig by The Coal Porters. A beer festival followed by a gig? Count me in. Over the coming weeks the brewery list began to emerge. It was certainly more than decent enough but not exactly epoch slaying. There were several great breweries on the last but hardly anybody that you’d struggle to find if you went searching within the confines of the M25. But, hey, a beer festival is whatever you choose to make of it.

I had a great time. Caught up some old acquaintances. Made some new ones. Chatted face to face with some folk who I’d previously only chatted to on Twitter. Bumped into quite a few people who I know from the excellent Bristol beer scene. And, perhaps most importantly, I got drunk on super tasty beer.

The Old Truman Brewery is a great space. The festival occupied several rooms of varying shapes and sizes – like a giant beer lined rabbit warren. Some the areas were way more cramped than others but even in those spaces the traffic was flowing reasonably smoothly and swiftly and you rarely had to wait for more than a few seconds to get a beer. Some criticism has been levelled at the amount of branding at the event but I liked the fact that each brewery had their own little stall and it was easy to see exactly who they were before getting too close as it made it easy to avoid having to make the embarrassing choice of walking away emptied handed or buying a beer you didn’t really want. Oh, the queue for the gents wasn’t anything to be overly concerned about, which is always a bonus. The people manning the bars and food stands were all friendly and helpful. And the stewards and security staff were numerous and easy to spot but certainly not obtrusive. All in all it was a job well done.

Anyway, for those interested, here are the beers I consumed:

Attaboy by Truman’s – 4.6%
Sour Saxon (Cell Rebirth) by The Celt Experience – 4%
Ola Dubh 18 by Harviestoun – 8%
Original by Thistly Cross Cider – 7.2%
Fifth Element by Beavertown – 7.3%
All Day IPA by Founders – 4.7%
Discovery by Renaissance – 4.5%
IPA by Lagunitas – 6.2%
Re Hop by Toccalmatto – 5%
Delirium Tremens by Huyghe – 7.5%
Black IPA by Brighton Bier – 7%
Sour Saxon (Cell Rebirth) by The Celt Experience – 4%
In The Pines by Wiper & True – 5.3%
Independence by Bristol Beer Factory – 4.6%
Imperial Raspberry Stout by Thornbridge & St Eriks – 10%

I suppose the simple fact that the only beer I had more than once was the Sour Saxon strongly suggests that it was my beer of the festival. It arguably was but it should be noted that I didn’t have a bad beer all day, which is something I’ve never managed to say after a session at the Great British Beer Festival.

If Craft Beer Rising returns in 2015 I will return to Craft Beer Rising.