Tag Archives: BrewDog

Hair of the Dog: What we learned at Brewdog’s 2015 #PunkAGM

It’s been just over a week since Brewdog’s 2015 AGM. The hop-haze has finally lifted. My ears have stopped ringing. And I can be in a room with alcohol again.

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Note: not all mine

The ubiquitous craft beer company‘s AGM isn’t your average AGM, as I explained to my photographer, Will, when he asked if this was a tie and chinos or a jeans kind of event.

Back in 2010, the company started trading B-shares in an effort to raise capital. Its investors were, by and large, craft beer fans, drawn in as much by discounts and bonuses as brand loyalty. The scheme – dubbed Equity for Punks – was a roaring success and, in five years, has raised over £6M.

But as a business, what do you do when the majority of your shareholders are beer-lovin’, mohawk-sporting, tie-eschewing punks? Turn AGM on its head and hold a festival instead.

Hopefully not holding out for an actual AGM for punks

Hopefully not here because of a terrible misunderstanding about the title #PunkAGM

We arrived in Scotland – courtesy of Brewdog, who invited us and covered the trip – early Saturday morning, the slate-grey streets of Aberdeen glowing in the sunshine as we landed, slingshot (with Scotland’s angriest taxi driver) around the outskirts of town and on to the colossal warehouse that would house the event.

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Inside punks, PR and press – drinks in hand – quickly got down to business; the annual report that opened the day’s tastings. And oh, how beleaguered Tesco must wish its shareholders were punks. Brewdog’s founders, James Watt and Martin Dickie, crossed the packed arena floor to raucous cheering, through a forest of raised glasses full – or, in most cases, part-full – of the beers that they would reveal had underpinned a year of unprecedented growth.

It’s testament to Brewdog’s army of punks – of which there were 14,500 before the AGM – that the 6,000 or so of them in attendance (the maximum the event could host) not only showed up early enough for the address, but listened with rapt attention. I didn’t begrudge James and Martin the six-pack they had on stage with them – tie-wearing corporates their shareholders are not, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take bad news well.

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But of course, this is Brewdog; arguably one of the craft beer Renaissance’s most overwhelming success stories. There was no bad news. The company’s turnover for 2014 was up a staggering 64 per cent, to £29.6M. Their gross profit – up 66 percent – was £11.5M, and with overheads of £7.8M, ended up with a net profit pre-tax of £3.7M. Brewdog has grown by 71 per cent in the last three years. Behind it all? “We’re committed to making as many people as possible passionate about craft beer,” James explained.

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Brewdog comes under fire, particularly in the London bubble, for its aggressive marketing, its appropriation of punk, and doing too well, too quickly. A few years ago it was criticised for the inconsistency of its ubiquitous IPA, Punk. But is this a case of the classic, British distrust of success?

Speaking personally, I’m a fan of Brewdog’s brash, hoppy beers, which speak to my palate. I like that I can get them everywhere, from Sainsbury’s local to Wetherspoons, in Oslo via Florence.

I fell for them even harder at the AGM when I ran my stock feminist sort-of-trick question, “do you brew beers specifically aimed at women?”, past Alex Myers, Director at Manifest, who handle Brewdog’s PR, between drinks.

“All our beers are for everyone,” he said, immediately, and with conviction. 10/10 answer. Not a whiff of, “why, of course, we have a 3 per cent cherry-flavoured beer, and one that tastes like chocolate…”

Finally, you can’t deny Brewdogs’ fans’ passion – made manifest in the whopping number of shares sold – be they the punks, or the two Scots on stage clutching their cans of craft.

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Brewdog has done a comprehensive round-up of the AGM announcements here. Our top lines…

US EXPANSION

Brewdog, which incredibly still still brews out of one, soon-to-be-expanded site at in Ellon in Aberdeenshire, is expanding production and heading stateside, with plans to open a 42-acre sister brewery in Columbus, Ohio. Dog Bless America, indeed.

NEW BEERS

Born to Die, an imperial IPA with a life-span of just 35 days, was our beer of the weekend, so great news that it’s going to be made marginally more widely available. The plan is to brew two batches that will appear in 660ml bottles and be available on keg. The beer we tried (that will die on 4 July!) was extravagantly hoppy, delicious and citrus-fresh. Will swears he was sweating hops the next day. BD also announced its first Equity Punk-inspired brew, a 6.5% chocolate and coconut stout, and a collaboration with Beavertown called “Coffee and cigarettes”, which is exactly what those members of Team Beavertown aboard our early morning return flight to London on Sunday looked like they needed.

NEW BARS

Brewdog also announced a slew of new Brewdog bars, including (deep breath) Leeds, Glasgow, Berlin, Brighton, Oslo, Rome, Leicester, Brussels, and, most importantly, because it’s at the end of my road, in Angel, Islington as well as London’s Soho, which will apparently also have a beer-themed sex shop (Bd’s PR didn’t explicitly deny this, so… you heard it here first, until you didn’t…)

FULL OF SPIRIT and IN THE DOG HOUSE

Finally, BD also announced that they would be opening a craft distillery, promising “we are going to smash the world of spirits forever”, and shared some tantalising details about its planned hotel, The Kennel in Ellon, to be the first completely beer-focused hotel in the UK, with beer on tap in every room.

“2014 was ace,” James told us, a broad understatement.

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THE BEERS

With the AGM down, it was on to some serious drinking, with not a watercooler or peppermint tea in sight. In our experience, the layout this year worked well and queues for the half-dozen or so bars were short (except for the food pop-ups outside – we legitimately queued for 50 minutes for a burrito). The beer wasn’t breathtakingly cheap – £10 bought you six tokens, and most beers (served in pints, 1/2s, 2/3s and 1/3) cost two or three tokens – so at £2.50-£3 a third a hair’s cheaper than London prices for some, but a generous £2 a pint for others (like Punk IPA).

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Team ICIP drank our way round most of the bars (why do you think it took so long to write this post?); our top tips:

Born to Die 04.07.2015: Just glorious. Fresh, US-hops, with zingy grapefruit notes. Full-bodied hop punch. Did I mention it’s hoppy? Basically my dream beer.

Dog D: At 16 per cent, this hefty imperial stout was not a beer to mess with. Or drink at the end of the night, as I did, which probably explains why I had to have a nice lie down on the floor of the departure lounge the next morning. Aged in oak barrels, it exudes chilli, black treacle, vanilla and whiskey notes. For 28 hours after you drink it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Jack Hammer: Another hop bomber, this one a more gentle 7.2%. Looking back, it’s probably a bad sign that my tasting notes rendered this “gentle” by mid afternoon. No matter! More US-hops here, palette-meltingly bitter, also more widely available than the beers above. Might start a petition for Sainsbury’s to start stocking this one.

Ballast Point, Sculpin Habanero: There were beers other than Brewdog, and this stole the show. I can only really claim to have had a half pint of this, because so bowled over was I by the seedy habanero kick – unlike any other chilli beer I have ever tasted – that I offered a mouthful of it to everyone I encountered just to see the looks on their faces. Extraordinary.

THE BANDS

Turns out that after a few pints of double-digit strength beer, I both recall the words to and enjoy many more Idewild, Twin Atlantic and Pulled Apart by Horses songs than I realised. Leaping around like a lunatic to Scottish emo was the perfect end to a fab day. But, this is a beer blog, not a music blog, so this entry is mostly an opportunity to showcase the one good photo I took with Will’s camera.

SO PROUD

SO PROUD

THE REST…

We only attended one tasting session – with Brewdog’s own brewers, and of lovely Dog D – and it was great. You do have to fork over precious beer tokens to attend, but it’s well worth it; in fact, apart from booking the subsequent week off, making more of those sessions is pretty much all we’d do differently next year.

Because, Dog willing, we’ll be back, and we’ll see you down the front.

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It comes in buns?

We don’t know about you, but ever since we heard about the #BrewBurger, the Honest Burgers and Brewdog collaboration, we’ve* been pretty darn excited about it.

(*by “we” we are obviously referring to Pip and Mr Pip, as D is a hardcore vegan.)

Beer candied bacon. Beer fried onions. Beer BBQ sauce. Even a bottle of beer specially brewed to pair with this magnificent meaty leviathan. This was just beer and burger food porn heaven. It became Mr Pip’s life goal to get one of these burgers, and insert it into his face by ANY MEANS POSSIBLE.

Sadly, we were not the only people excited about the #BrewBurger. Honest Burgers already have a reputation for churning out some pretty awesome food, and it’s not at all unusual to see people queuing out the door at their restaurants at the best of times. With the added draw of this special addition to the menu – getting publicity due to requiring ID just to order it – we didn’t fancy our chances of getting hold of one.

After several days of putting up with a husband with a face like a kicked, burger-starved puppy, Pip came up with one of her notoriously bright ideas – “why don’t we try to make our own?”

…oh yes, reader. We went there.

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Step one: brioche bun.

This was to be one special burger. Special burgers do not come in those sad, flat little baps from Sainsburys. Oh no.

DSC_0084Rising questionably early on a Sunday morning, we rustled up some delicious buns to contain the awesomeness of our burger.

DSC_0096 DSC_0101 DSC_0111 DSC_0114Step two: beer BBQ sauce.

The #BrewBurger boasts a special BBQ reduction made with Brewdog’s Paradox, an imperial stout aged in whisky casks and ranging from 10-15% ABV. Sadly, we weren’t able to get hold of any Paradox, with Brewdog informing us that they had sent every last bottle they had out to Honest Burgers. Short of breaking into a restaurant to steal a bottle, we would need a plan B.

DSC_0103So, basically… we cheated. We needed a Paradox substitute, and the closest thing we could find was their delicious Tokyo*. This is an oak-aged imperial stout at a face-melting 18.2% ABV, and hopefully sharing some of the delicious characteristics of Paradox.

We made a punchy BBQ sauce with a dizzying array of ingredients, the Tokyo* adding some real richness and depth to the flavour.

DSC_0104DSC_0105 DSC_0108DSC_0109 Step three: baaaaaacon.

DSC_01135am Saint glazed candied bacon? Oh, go on then.

DSC_0117 DSC_0120 DSC_0125We didn’t think you could improve on perfection (i.e. bacon). Turns out we were wrong.

Step four: Punk IPA fried onions

Honest Burgers thought they had us here. “Our onions are fried in Punk IPA and beef dripping”, they boasted. Yeah, well we had some beef dripping in the fridge from a roast. So there.

DSC_0127 DSC_0130 DSC_0131 DSC_0134Step five: burger me.

Honest Burgers get their 35-day aged beef from The Ginger Pig. While we couldn’t quite scale such heights of meaty prestige, we did go to our local butchers to get something a bit special.

DSC_0137 DSC_0140 Step six: #BrewBurger… assemble!!

Time to bring it all together… Brioche. Gherkins. Burger. 5am Saint bacon. Comté cheese. Punk IPA and beef dripping onions. Paradox Tokyo* BBQ sauce. LID.

DSC_0143DSC_0144DSC_0145DSC_0146DSC_0148DSC_0150DSC_0153DSC_0156Step 7: insert into face. Wash down with Bourbon Baby.

DSC_0158DSC_0164The verdict?

Our taste-tester, Mr Pip, had this to say:

“It was delicious… the onions were the highlight, for me. You got the most beer out of the onions. The bacon tasted great but you didn’t necessarily taste the beer coming through. The Bourbon Baby was wonderful and complimented the burger well. Our BBQ sauce obviously wasn’t the same recipe as Honest Burgers’, and we were using a different beer, but I think having the Tokyo* in it added a depth and smokiness. I wasn’t getting alcoholic vibes from it, as it was cooked down for a while but it really brought the other elements together.”

While his hunger for burgers has been temporarily sated, Mr Pip is still keen to try and get hold of the real thing, if only to see how close we came to recreating it.

With the #BrewBurger currently being advertised as a limited edition, only being available until 2nd April, it’s encouraging to know we may be able to recreate a little of the magic once it disappears from Honest Burgers’ menus… but there’s still a little time left to join the queues.

Brewdog have been selling Bourbon Baby in their online shop, but at the time of writing they had none in stock. You might get lucky if you keep checking.

5 Honest Burgers restaurants can be found across London, and some Brewdog bars may also be serving the #BrewBurger… but you will have to be quick and get down there by 2nd April 2014.

– PS

Low alcohol beers – high and dry? (part two)

Inspired by Macmillan Cancer Support’s “Sober October” campaign, ICIP has decided to use this opportunity to investigate the world of low- and non-alcoholic beers. If you missed part one, catch it here

In part two we look at the demand for these products and ask why they are not being better promoted in today’s health-conscious society.

afshopDuring ICIP’s research, we stumble across The Alcohol-Free Shop, a company based in Manchester selling non-alcoholic beers and wines. Their range is impressive… and international. There are beers from Germany, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic. They’ve obviously found a bit of a niche market that isn’t being adequately supplied by the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco. We asked co-founder Christine Risby where the idea sprang from. “My husband [co-founder John Risby] is a recovering alcoholic. He had stopped drinking for about two years when he was fed up with being offered nothing but cola, lemonade or orange juice. He wanted to enjoy wine with his meals and enjoy a beer without returning to his old ways. We discovered that there were many alcohol-free wines and beers available across Europe but little available in the UK.”

Christine says that interest in alcohol-free options has definitely increased in recent years – and business is obviously doing well, as they were able to open a showroom to accompany the online shop last year. “People are more aware of the dangers of alcohol and more health conscious. A lot of people choose alcohol-free beers based on brand awareness but once they realise there are so many brands that they don’t know, they start experimenting more. Also, people come back from holidays abroad having enjoyed alcohol-free beers that are available in many bars in Germany, France, Holland and Spain and seek them out when they get home.”

ICIP is stunned by the range available at The Alcohol-Free Shop. We hadn’t even considered the possibility that you could make an alcohol-free stout or dark ale like Super Bock or Bernard Free. Does Christine think that supermarkets should be trying harder to offer consumers a bigger range? “People who go to supermarkets aren’t looking for alcohol-free beer,” she points out. ”On occasion they may buy a six pack for a guest who is driving. But every product has to earn its shelf space. If a product doesn’t move quickly, they are likely to drop it. Some supermarkets have tried selling a wider range of alcohol-free beers but have gone back to just one or two brand names. The difference about us is that the people who come to us are looking for alcohol-free drinks whereas most people who visit supermarkets are not.”

We tried to get some information from supermarkets about the demand for alcohol-free options, but had no response from Tesco or Asda. Sainsburys told us they couldn’t give us any figures but offered a statement: “Our 2020 commitment is to double the sales of lighter alcohol wines and reduce the average alcohol content in our own brand beers and wines.  We are certainly seeing a demand from our customers for lighter styles of wine and lower alcohol drinks so we will continue to use our buying and winemaking expertise to ensure we have beers and wines available that do not compromise on taste or quality.”

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It could be that we have a bit of a chicken and egg situation whereby demand is not going to increase substantially until a wider range of better quality products are available, but brewers are unlikely to experiment with quality low-alcohol beers if they don’t think they’ll sell. “Anyone who’s tried to buy low-alcohol beer in a pub in Britain will find that often there is only one brand available, it’s not necessarily the one you want,” says Alcohol Concern’s Andrew Misell. “I’ve occasionally wondered what an alcohol-free ale or stout tastes like, because if I want to drink alcohol-free beers I can only find alcohol-free lagers in my local pubs and supermarket. It’s a lot more normal on the continent to buy alcohol-free beer in a pub.”

“In Norway it’s mandatory for all places who sell alcohol to also offer a non-alcoholic beer/wine,” says Terje, 30, when we hit Reddit for some international input. “There’s a zero-tolerance for driving under the influence so it’s expected both by the state and fellow citizens that you stick to non-alcoholic beverages.” Hugh, 37, tells us there is a similar attitude in New Zealand: “The culture of peer pressure around alcohol is slowly changing. There’s a legal requirement for any on-premise licensed venue to carry something under 1%”. Surely this would be an strong first step – requiring all pubs to stock a low-alcohol option?

“Most pubs would say they do offer alcohol-free alternatives because they sell soft drinks such as orange juice and cola but that doesn’t really satisfy people who want a nice beer or glass of wine,” laments Christine. “Also most of their customers want alcohol and they don’t want to take up shelf space with a range of alcohol-free beers. I think pubs need to change their attitude. There’s not enough choice in pubs and staff too often make customers asking for alcohol-free beer feel embarrassed and unwelcome.”

“It’s not something we would say should be mandatory,” Andrew adds. “But for a number of years it has been compulsory under Home Office rules for pubs to provide water and I think that has made a difference. It always used to be a bit embarrassing to go to the bar and say “can I have a pint of water please, but now it is a lot easier.” It’s a start, at least. Now that the craft beer scene has really taken hold of the UK, higher-ABV beers are becoming more popular, and sometimes you need to take a break as a drinker to prevent your evening spiraling into oblivion. ICIP knows it has been grateful for being offered an Erdinger Alkoholfrei somewhere in the murky depths between a 7%+ offering from The Kernel and something evil by Flying Dog before now.

We have also considered the labelling of alcohol. A lot of fuss has been made in the past about including the number of units on alcohol packaging, and in June 2013 it was announced that the government is to roll out a standardised labeling system for food products. But nutritional information on booze is hard to find. “The legal position is that there is an exemption for beers, wines and spirits across the European Union. That is the result of lobbying by the big wine-producing countries who for whatever reason didn’t want that kind of labeling,” says Andrew.

It seems strange, at a time when we’re constantly being reminded that two thirds of the population in the UK is overweight or obese, that we’re not being given the information we need to make informed choices about the liquid calories we consume. “We’ve suggested in the past it should be considered. Consumers don’t understand a great deal about the number of calories in alcohol,” Andrew tells us. “Some drinkers graduate towards white spirits like vodka – they have a lower calorie count because they don’t have the sugars and carbohydrate you get in beer, but you get a much higher alcohol content.” He warns of the potential dangers of this: “People keen to lose weight might be drawn towards spirits, and obviously drinking spirits means you take on a number of units of alcohol quite quickly.” So there’s a risk that if labeling is not supported by the education of drinkers, it could actually lead people to be less responsible about their alcohol consumption – knocking back a few measures of 40% spirits instead of taking their time over a 4% pint.

deptofhealthWe tried to ask the Ministry of Health about their views, but the reply was predictably standard: “the Department agrees that alcohol is a major public health issue, and that a comprehensive strategy that covers information, prevention and treatment is essential in tackling it.” They had copy-pasted a swathe of blurb about all the money they have ring-fenced to fund “alcohol services” and “misuse prevention and treatment” but they were very vague about what any of this would entail.

So what’s the future of low-alcohol beer? Brewdog seem keen to continue experimenting: “We’re all about breaking boundaries and trying new things, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw us experimenting with some interesting takes on low ABVs for other styles in the future,” says brewer Charlotte Cook. Nøgne Ø seem determined to continue working on their low-alcohol stout, and lower percentage session ales are becoming more popular. Ultimately Christine believes that the best way to make progress is to continue to strive for quality: “It’s much better to show pubs that if they served decent alcohol-free beer then people would drink it.”

In the final installment of our Sober October series we will be taste-testing a selection of low- and non-alcoholic beers. 

– PS

Low alcohol beers – high and dry? (part one)

Assonance-loving charity Macmillan Cancer Support has proclaimed the tenth month of the year as “Sober October”, with fundraisers asking for sponsorship for a full 31 days of abstinence. ICIP has decided to use this opportunity to investigate the world of low- and non-alcoholic beers.

In part one we look at the lack of choice available at present and ask why these beers have such a bad reputation.

What first comes to mind when you think of an alcohol-free or low-alcohol beer? For ICIP it’s a sad, battered 4-pack of Cobra Zero on the supermarket shelf, those horrid little glass bottles of weak French lager our mum let us have when we were 14, or a disappointingly unrefreshing can of Bass Shandy. We’ll probably just have a coke, thanks.

“The biggest problem I have with alcohol-free beers is that they are so infrequently bought that even when you find a pack at the store it tends to be old, dusty and sometimes skunky.” – Dan, 30, USA

In an era where we are constantly being bombarded with healthy-living messages by the government, health professionals and the media, you’d think that guilt-free booze would be a hot little potato right now. Yet a quick peruse of the shelves in your local Sainsbury’s or Tesco will probably bring up the same few brands – Becks Blue, the aforementioned Cobra Zero, maybe Bavaria. There don’t seem to be many options readily available, and what there is seems pretty substandard. These products have a pretty poor reputation, and given the choice, most people would probably pick a soft drink.

Perhaps the most obvious reason for this is that low-alcohol beers just don’t pack a punch in the taste department. Let’s face it – most of them taste like fizzy water and bear little resemblance to their boozy cousins. So why is this? What is it about alcohol that makes beer taste so good?

“When you drink a beer that has alcohol in it, as soon as it hits your mouth it starts warming up,” explains Annabel Smith, Beer Sommelier and friend of ICIP. “Alcohol is volatile, and when it’s in your mouth some of it comes out of the beer solution. This will give rise to ester and fruity flavours, and maybe a bit of diacetyl, which smells and tastes a bit like butterscotch. When no alcohol (or very little alcohol) is present, you just don’t get these flavour sensations that we associate with ‘proper beer’. This may lead to some opinions that these beers are bland and tasteless.”

“I’d rather have just one or two normal strength beers than non-alcoholic, as they’re rarely good.  They’re pretty much like Christian rock music – I’ve nothing against it as a concept, but the end product is usually horrifyingly bad” – Jouni, 32, Finland

So maybe we can retrain our palates to appreciate lower-alcohol beers over time. After all, low-alcohol beers start off in exactly the same way as “real” beer.  “The beer is brewed in the normal way, and then the alcohol is removed by either distillation, freezing, or osmosis,” says Annabel. “Each method will affect the flavour in a different way. Osmosis is perhaps the best method of preserving the flavour of the original beer – but it’s also the most expensive method.”

The only craft brewery we can find making a well-publicised non-alcoholic beer is Scotland’s Brewdog. At 0.5% their Nanny State, an imperial mild, has been designed to shake up the trend for tasteless alcohol-free booze. “We use Pale Ale malt in Nanny State for the majority of the sugars, and then we bump up the malt bill with specialty malts like Rye, Crystal and Caramalt,” says Brewdog brewer Charlotte Cook. “These add flavour, colour and mouthfeel without increasing the Original Gravity of our wort too much. We also hop it to hell and back, which is pretty uncommon with low ABV beers!”

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It’s interesting that of all the big-name breweries it is Brewdog who are making a low-alcohol beer. The Scottish brewer has repeatedly hit the headlines for their uber-strong brews, including Tokyo* (18.2%), Tactical Nuclear Penguin (32%) and Sink the Bismark (41%). Although most of these are intended to be drunk in spirit measures and are seen as a new way to enjoy beer, the brewery certainly attracted a lot of negative press for these concoctions (a motion was even brought in the Scottish Parliament in an attempt to ban Tokyo*). So is this the only reason that Brewdog felt the need to make Nanny State – as yet another middle finger to the man?

“Initially, this was something that influenced brewing Nanny State, which is an extreme of low alcoholic beers,” admits Sarah Warman, Brewdog’s  Digital Marketing Manager. “We were proving a point and standing our ground, showing that flavour and complexity don’t have to be compromised by ABV, and that even a low ABV beer would be consumed in an appropriate fashion.” Charlotte defends the decision, pointing out the brewery is not just about high-percentage headline-stealers: “BrewDog really excels at brewing comparatively low ABV beers. Dead Pony Club (3.8%) and How to Disappear Completely (2.8%) are both great examples of this.”

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Nanny State has been phenomenally popular for a low-alcohol beer, both at home and abroad. “It has a massive audience considering its low ABV! It flies out of our online shop and bars when we have it in stock, and our international markets, particularly those in Scandinavia, really dig it,” says Sarah .”Because it offers a low ABV without scrimping on flavour and bitterness, it’s ideal if you want to stick with something relatively sober whilst enjoying a proper, flavoursome beer.”

“I think most non alcoholic beers taste so awful, so that I am reminded for every sip, that I am not drinking proper beer!” – Kjetil Jikiun, Nøgne Ø co-founder

Given Brewdog’s enthusiasm, ICIP is surprised that more breweries are not jumping on the bandwagon. Isn’t it a bit of an untapped market? “It’s not the easiest process to make a low ABV beer,” says Charlotte. “With such little alcohol flavour, you really have to work to balance the beer out well. There is still a negative image around it – to a lot of people, you’re not seen as fun if you’re not drinking, which is an unhealthy and unproductive attitude which needs to change. If people knew they could still have a great beer, and not get drunk, or take a break from higher ABV beers, then their popularity might increase.”

ImageA bit of speedy Googling reveals that low-alcohol beers are much more common in Europe. In Germany especially, most of the main breweries, such as Erdinger and Bitburger, offer an alcohol-free version. There also seems to be plenty of experimentation – for example, Danish brewer Mikkeller has produced a 1.9% hefeweizen, Drink’in the Sun, and Norwegian brewery Nøgne Ø has been working on a non alcoholic ‘Inferial Stout’: “Inferial Stout is one of few unfiltered non-alcoholic beers (if not the only one) to go through a normal primary and secondary fermentation,” says co-founder of Nøgne Ø, Kjetil Jikiun. “We have made it once, as a prototype, but need to wait until we have a pasteurizer before we can regularly make and sell this product with an acceptable shelf life.”

So if the likes of Brewdog, Mikkeller and Nøgne Ø – all well-respected brewers – believe that it is possible to deliver on flavour despite the lack of alcohol, maybe it’s attitudes that need changing. What can we do to remove the stigma of drinking low-alcohol brews and stimulate demand? We’ll be looking into this in part two.

– PS