Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#BroDogs 4 Life

You may have seen my recent modeling excursion at Paris Beer Week with #Beerstagram master Clemént.
They weren't real tattoos.

We are real BroDogs.

Having bonded over pints of Punk and Dead Pony Club (not to mention a tactical nuclear penguin or two), Clemént and I created a tattoo optional bond we refer to as #BroDogs4life.

The Brodog Circle Expands

I met James, a proper English type with a smart jacket and red socks as I was coming off the plane tryng to yawn and blow air out my ears. We were to share a taxi to the BrewDog brewery and James wanted to know if this dislike for Stella was enough to qualify him as a beer geek.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of adding to my circle of irl beer geek friends while attending a meet, greet, drink and karaoke (or not) event at BrewDog in Aberdeen, Scotland. First off, let me say that it entire event was paid for by BrewDog, Sarah (of youtube fame) planned the gathering to show off BrewDog's newest toys to the beertube and blogger crew around the EU and, in full disclosure, they can buy my love all they want.

Do I think BrewDog can get a bit gimmicky? Yeah, but why not be.

Is Equity for Punks a good investment? The perks alone are worth the cash, if you have it.

Does this PR stunt change how I view BrewDog? Not in the least. I've always been a fan of BrewDog's ass in the wind style of doing things and have never had a beer that wasn't what I was expecting it to be. They are the Stone Brewing of the EU and, as long as they keep making good beer they can be as punky stange as they like.

Me? I came to meet beerubers, drink beer and get out of Paris for a day.

Aberdeen - Home of Dracula's castle

Amoung political talks of Scotland seceding from Uk and a vicious inability to pop my post flight ear canal, I was welcomed to Aberdeen, Scotland by a dismal wall picture of a stormy wharf with bold white lettering saying : This is Home. Setting expectations on a low level leaves plenty of room for pleasant surprises. Along the wall of welcome signs into the Aberdeen where also other points of touristy interest, including something about a singing cactus, oil fields galore and, much to my surprise, a statement saying I was now near the home of Dracula's castle.

Turns out that Bram Stoker used one of the local castles as a model for this book Dracula and it isn't hard to see how the rambling streets of grey stone housing could be used as template for a gothic novel. Aberdeen is seagull infested, smaller than a Parisian suburb and fortified to the teeth, even the grocery stores are made of solid battleship grey slabs of earth which gives the whole place a great authentic Hogwarts type of feel. The university may have been Adolf Hilter's favorite building of all time, but then he didn't get to tour BrewDog's new Brewing facility.

BrewDog's New Toys

James Watt threw a green vest at me and my English taxi buddy as we were rushed late into the brewery tour.

"What are the vests for?"
"So people know you aren't the brewer."

Not much chance of that, seeing as how I couldn't be mistaken for Stewart Bowman any more than Charlie could be mistaken for Willy Wonka. The six year veteran head brewer of BrewDog was all black metal t-shirt, hop head and bouncing beard as he guided us through the new industrial playground of the beer world's most hip beer company. There were people buzzing around, looking leisurely busy like oompa-loompas in trendy beanies, glasses and an assortment of finely maintained facial hair. Everyone seemed to have things to scrub and clean or crank and clank as the hiss and whine of the smoothly functioning brewery went about it's daily business.

Stewart warned us about large scale boil overs which, since its a home brewer's nightmare must be amplified by hecoliters. He told far off tales of how things used to be before they got everything they dreamed of and their plans for expanding even more in the future while I felt as if any moment one of the huge cylindrical tanks might pop open and we would all be drown in an ocean of beer (it happens). BrewDog's occupied work punks at one point wheeled out a cannon sized pump machine to begin a hoping process that could only be explained as excessive. After lots of details about yeast strains, beer styles and company motivation we were herded around by Bowman's jolly booming voice into an elevated glass box of a room where, a bit selfishly, I thought that the time had come for us to shoot into the clouds and he would then tell us that it was all ours.

Alas, it was merely the lab and we were to be introduced to BrewDog's shiny new toy #1 : The Diacetyl machine. (Click here if you don't know what diacetyl is and why one would want an expensive machine to detect it.) This medical grade device is able to pull apart all sorts of chemical compounds and, as soon as they learn how to work it, they'll be using it is isolate all the things that make up a beer instead of just testing batches for Diacetyl. Ever-lasting-hopstoppers?

Shiny new toy #2 was a fully enclosed bottling line that cost more than the economic output of some small countries but was made in Germany and featured a finishing section where the bottles were gently splashed with water, softly blown dry, and then patted on the head by an official bottle inspector. #Fancy This new toy was setting in motion one of BrewDog's newest developments : Label change !

Shiny new toy #3 : Slightly embossed, hand designed by some trendy person who uses old school techniques and with the logo dog now sporting a less evil looking eye, the new labels are a welcome upgrade after more than 7 years with the old look.

James went around the group handing out Punk IPA fresh off the bottling line, like it was candy and, sipping at the bottles between questions, like inquisitive children, the tour was moved into the pub for snacks and chats.

I had a lovely talk with a family playing a Star Trek themed board game for family night because the attached brewery pub has board games, people use them and drink fresh beer. Yes, I could live here. There were off duty employees taking their post work pint and munching on an assortment of savory pies, while I began to get in some meet and greets with beer geeks :
Wane Dunne is the Irish Beer Snob

Sten Bentall does the Beer O'clock Show

Isla Mercer from Diary of a Beer Girl 

After a short nap at the hotel, which does NOT have a pool, we were on to see shiny new toy #4 : Musa For James Watt's new 'sort of hobby' he says,
"others play golf or do DIY, I have decided to relax and occasionally escape the BrewDog mayhem with Musa."

Escape we did. Me, and the rest of my newly appointed BroDog buddies filled out the reserved up stairs area, where we were artfully served pork and purple laced dishes paired with BrewDog beers of all styles. Sophie Atherton from A FemAle View does not like purple things in her food, but she does know how to say dirty words in French (bwahaha), Martin Dickie is unable to resist a few micro greens and so we created a hashtag to create word awareness #microgreens, Tony the BrewDog distribution manager as pulled in to explain the pairings because James had had a few and the chef finished us off with a view into his grand supply of Scot whiskey. Ask for the Lagavulin, BroDog.

As you may have noticed at this point, I didn't take pictures of the event, I didn't tweet anything and neither did I video record. I do have some audio samples of a local barmaid telling dirty jokes and some snippets of Jonny Garret from The Craft Beer Channel singing to his beer, but other than that I came into the event as an enjoyer of beer people. But, if you'd like a really awesome live blogging of the whole thing, check out The Beer Cast's Rich Taylor with his up to the minute commentary as it all happened!

Me, I got distracted by the local old man karaoke bar next door to Musa. Sir Tom Jones has nearly two pages of songs available - naturally. 

If I sound a little down about the whole thing in retrospect it's because I am the kid back home after summer camp. I love all my places of work and cherish fresh French baguettes to no end but being silly with great beer geeky people in a city that is experiencing unusually beautiful weather is the cookie that ruins christmas dinner. I appreciate BrewDog for setting up the event and showing how down to earth and yet completely Willy Wonka they are. Aberdeen may be called the Concrete City, but it's a fantastically friendly and heart warming place, full of thick Scottish accents and mountains of local beer love.

I didn't get to see the art performance that Darren Packman from Beer Sweden enjoyed with Martin later in the evening, but I did purchase a lovely cigar at the local pub to share with Steven Lamond from Beers I've Known. I then purchased Rob Derbyshire from HopZine a local dark beer that came with a plastic goat shaped charm and slurringly insisted that we film us reviewing it. Boy, I can't wait to see if there is anything useful in that clip. Not wanting to give in to the slow trickle of people heading back to the hotel, I shared some deep world views with John Duffy The Beer Nut, and with the help of Chris Hall from The Beer Diary and Sarah BroDog, tried to rescue The Craft Beer Channel's Brad Evan from falling asleep.

Cheers to all my new BroDogs 4 life, you've got a friend in Paris.

Cheers to BrewDog for supporting our craft beer drinking habits and sharing their new toys with us.

A big cheers to Sarah for running us all around in a timely manner!

And now,

Jonny singing love songs to his BrewDog :

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  1. […] Dig into more of my adventures from the BrewDog hosted event in Aberdeen by checking out my recent post on the event. Don’t forget to scroll to the end and listen to Jonny from The Craft Beer Channel serenading his beer. […]

  2. Fantastic to meet you! Any chance we could get Mont-Salève to run a similar event?

  3. Always a pleasure!
    I don't think many French breweries have the financial capacity to fund an all out beer blogger camp like what BrewDog has expenditures for, but it doesn't hurt to ask! Thiriez has a bed and breakfast set up that I hear many good things about, maybe we can put together a rustic beer geek weekend at their brewery. I'll look into it.
    What about a meet up in Dublin?


  4. I think after the Beer Bloggers Conference everyone is sick of Dublin. But I'm usually around for a pint.

  5. Well I'M not sick of Dublin (never been!), so maybe I'll have a bit of a run over there the end of this month, shoot me an email, lets plan some beer geek adventures!