Our beer selection for this month once again came from bottle stock at the Stone Arch Tap Room. It is the first imported beer our team decided to write about and we are all glad we did! Hardcore IPA from Ellon, Scotland based Brew Dog, a release from their “Amplified series”. This time around, our entire brewery team of 8 got to sample this Scottish offering. It was really neat for me to page though the tasting notes from each team member and compile them all into this article. It still amazes me, after so many years in the beer industry, how differently people perceive flavors and aromas.
The amber colored long neck bottle boasts a label that is a simple dark green with reverse white in a distressed print. Explicit Imperial Ale, as it is explained as well as the fact it is a product of Scotland. The side panel explains some fun numbers it took to create this beer including mention of the 9,900,000,000 yeast cells it took to make it all come together. With a best before date of 08/15/2026, we certainly didn’t have to rush to drink it, matter-of-fact I wish I had the patience to cellar this bad boy for several years to enjoy the inevitable changes it will incur.
This sample was poured into several snifter-style glasses. The pour allowed perfect foam formation consisting of a mixture of loose and tight bubbles from the CO2 and an ivory colored head. The head height was right where it needed to be at around two inches – very inviting! The appearance is a tad bit hazy which is typical in highly hopped beers. The color is a rich copper and reddish hue.
The nose this beer expels got so many different associations from our team, I could have written this entire article on the nose alone. Lively citrus, malty, bready, piney, resinous, sweet, nutty, tangerine, Skittles, freshly shampooed carpet, just to name a few. With orange and fruity the most common notes. Quite complex to say the least.
The taste/flavor wasn’t too far behind with fun associations. Strong, caramel, bitter fruit, earthy, nutty and a little bit of oxidation is what we all agreed on as to what you can expect when enjoying this beer. With grand amounts of Maris Otter Malt and obvious huge hop additions of Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra, this beer comes across the taste buds as pretty balanced, maybe a bit light on the hop tones even at 125 IBU’s (again; this coming from a group of hop hounds). Important to mention is the belief of many experts that anything over 100 IBU’s is not perceived by the majority.
This beer finishes dry from the elevated alcohol content of 9.2% abv and still carries through with big citrus and caramel tones. Overall this beer has a strong, complimentary balance with good body and a mellow warming sensation. Taylor was fortunate enough to be enjoying an Indian dish for lunch at the time of sampling and seemed to think the pairing was staged because of how perfect the beer paired with the spices.
Now let’s learn more about the Scottish blokes who brought this brand to the states. It all started back in 2007 when two 24 year olds and their trusted canine companion begged and borrowed cash and converted it into stainless to start their dream in Fraserburgh, Scotland. Their first year produced 1,050 hectolitres of beer (895 U.S. barrels) with the two founders/stakeholders (and again their dog) at the helm. Year two they pushed the envelope by brewing the U.K.’s strongest beer and the media storm that followed help them persuade the banks to loan them more cash for stainless and a new bottling line. Finishing out the year of 2008 at 4,050 hl and up to nine employees and “1 dog”.
After a very successful on-line offering of stock dubbed Equity for Punks and brewing the world’s strongest beer (at 32% abv), 2009 showed growth to 24 employees and 9,500 hl of beer produced. 2010 brought beer and taxidermy together when Brew Dog released a 55% abv beer that the bottle was cleverly hidden inside a taxidermy squirrel. This subsequently became the world’s most expensive beer and their business growth continued.
With help from crowd funding, gimmicky brews (like brewing under water), exporting to 55 countries, the addition of tied-house bars and a very successful TV show named Brew Dogs, 2014 production numbers grew to 90,000 hl. They now employ 358 people, own 26 tied-house bars and have 14,568 shareholders, yet still only one dog.
FINAL WORD: Search this beer out, buy two. Drink one tonight with Indian fare while you whisk through the pages of their website and stash the other in your cellar for later enjoyment.