The Fable of The Brew Dog – A Beer Tasting Tale

Come closer, tiny darlings, for it is story time. A story of one dog and his fight for the purest of beers…..

…..Okay, it isn’t story time yet, I’ll get to that at the end. First, let me tell you about my delightful evening spent with The Brew Dog.
The Demon Gin, brew dog, beer tasting

A couple of weeks back, I chanced upon a flyer for a beer tasting that promised to bring not only Scottish craft brewers Brew Dog to fair Canterbury, but would also be a meeting of two lovely local businesses.
The event would take place at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen , and was hosted by The Bottle Shop, Canterbury’s premiere purveyor of bottled beer. Run by Drew and his crew inside The Goods Shed on Station Road West, The Bottle Shop is the place to go for excellent beers and really special brews – the shelves heave with dozens of obscure and new beverages, begging to be quaffed. Well worth a browse and all of your money.
This is Drew

For our £15 ticket, we were promised an evening of beer sampling, food and beer talk from the experts. I was sold.
For those of you not familiar with this brand (where have you been?), Brew Dog was launched in 2007 by a pair of pals who were tired of stuffy ales and industrial larger. They started small, brewing small batches and filling bottles by hand to sell at local markets but within a year, the brand had exploded in popularity.

Having produced the (then) strongest beer in the UK, they attracted their share of headlines but also a legion of fans and the brand has grown and grown ever since. These are beers made with flavour, with passion, with balls and, if you don’t check the strength, with a near-lethal punch. 

So, the promise of beer and then more beer soon attracted the attention of the beau and two of my beeriest friends, Tim and Stella, so the four of us bagged tickets to the tasting and hastened to the venue one crisp Saturday night. The event sold out quickly, but we were lucky to grab a table and someone’s shoes because sometimes I steal people’s shoes for no reason*. It’s a problem, I’ll learn to deal with it.

Mrs Jones’ Kitchen itself is a beautiful, spacious café on The King’s Mile in Canterbury, serving solidly lovely food by day. It opens in the evening for special events, and Mrs Jones herself is a big supporter of local entertainers and artists. The café is also very family friendly, with plenty of space, big scrubbed farmhouse tables and an open plan bar.
On arrival, the MJK staff furnished us with delicious hot dogs in thick baguettes with beer battered onion rings, made (of course) with Brew Dog’s Weihenstephan. The Brew Dog representative and Drew’s team manned the bar, handing out special glasses (which you could buy at the end of the night) and dispensing tasters of the night’s brewskis.

Most of the beers on the menu were new prototypes from the brewery, not yet on sale. Stella and I worked our way down the list in order, while the boys chopped and changed depending on the strength.

We started out with the Vagabond, a pale ale at 4.5%, followed closely by the Hop Fiction IPA at a more serious 6.5%. Both were delicious, particularly the Vagabond which was my favourite of the night. Golden, light, full of flavour – and gluten free! This brew has since passed the prototype stage and is now available to buy. Get it now, and bring me some.

Then came the Alt Amber, a seasonal Alt Bier at 5.2% which was perfectly respectable and is available October to December, and then the All Day Long, a mild that would suit drivers at only 2.7%.
Then things got serious.

The prototypes consumed, we moved onto the big daddies of the night – the smoked porter and the imperial stout.

Stella and I weren’t sure about the porter, named U Boat Victory. We were already starting to get giggly, and with this brew coming in at 8.4%, it took no prisoners. It was pleasant, but very intense.
Then came the stout, Dog C. The 15.1% stout that retails at £15 a bottle. I’m not kidding.
It’s name conjures images of a medical experiment gone horribly wrong, and it looks like one too. Thick, black and terrifying it was, languishing in the glass, daring us to have the balls to drink it. Stella and I took a sip.
It tasted like tyres. Tyres with stilton. 
It was not our cup of tea at all, and much as we tried to grit out teeth and think of England, we could not finish it. I’m not sure who this stout would appeal to, but it was an experience to say the least. Ben baulked at our inability to finish beer, and proceeded to drink our leftovers. (He was not well the next day.)
While we sampled, the representative from Brew Dog took to the floor to explain a little about their work and the beers we were tasting that evening, before the tastings reached their conclusion. We were pleasantly mellow with beer, and most of the guests stayed on to buy more drinks from the bar and to discuss important things like beer and why we all needed more beer.

Our only grumble was that we couldn’t buy some of our favourite beers to continue drinking on the night, as they were prototypes and could not be sold to us – we would have to be patient. As it was, we settled for some Old Dairy Ales from the café’s regular menu.

It was a splendid evening nonetheless – top beer, wonderful organisation from The Bottle Shop and lovely hosting from Mrs Jones’ Kitchen. And Brew Dog may have their share of mental beers, but their everyday brews are consistently delicious, and well worth your time.

As we neared the end of our tasting adventure, a voice boomed across the restaurant floor, knocking us back into sobriety. Drew stood in the middle of the floor, arms wide, calling our attention. It was time for a story. The story…of the Brew Dog…
I could not possible attempt to describe it, so Drew kindly sent me a copy to share with all of you, tiny darlings. Read the tale, howl at the moon, and let the Brew Dog run free…
Gather round and let me tell you a story.
A long time ago in a land not too dissimilar from our own there were millions of people and they all had one problem. They weren’t happy… They weren’t happy because the pale elixir of life had become bland, it had become predictable, it had become fizzy and tasteless. They hated themselves for consistently consuming this bastardised vision of what their favoured elixir had become but yet they could not help themselves, sucking obediantly at the teet of the Wicked Witch Stella and her Evil Wizard brother… Buddy Weiser.
And low the reign of Stella and Buddy went on, casting a dark shadow across the land!
All seemed lost to the people who once loved their sweet, pale, elixir of life. Nothing could stop them from weeping helplessly into their nonnets of insiped witches brew and fizzy, flavourless, Wizards broth…
A deafening roar bellowed from the North, a soul shattering, bone crunching roar that put fear into the hearts and minds of men, women and children alike. Weeping ceased and all stared to the rocky hills of the North and there, standing on great, rugged, paws, with a mohawk the size of a man-o-war. Standing on a bloody pile of broken bottles and the discarded corpses of the witches minions, was a dog the size of a town, with the eyes of a demon and teeth like… A dog’s teeth… because it was a dog.
The people were scared but then the giant dog crushed the Wicked Witch Stella with one stomp of his mighty paw and stabbed The Wizard Buddy in the knee.
“Jeez that smarts!” yelped Buddy in pain, only in time to see the giant dog blow down his evil laboratory with a solitary ice-distilled breath that smelt like penguins and replace it with a new one. 
One that would make an elixir for the people, one that would make an elixir that the people would actually like, one that would push the very boundaries of what could and could not be done.
The giant dog stomped on Buddy’s abdomen, spraying EVIL blood and EVIL guts across the room. With Buddy’s last, dying breath he balled his fist at the giant dog and let out a blood curdling roar…
“Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuude! Not cooooooool!”
The people rejoiced at the re-invigoration of their favourite elixir. And as the giant dog marched back to the North to continue his work, a small hipster with lens-less glasses and an ironic scarf approached the giant dog and said,
“We appreciate all you’ve done for us… But who are you?”
The giant dog growled it’s deepest growl, it felt like the very bowels of the planet shook in nervous anticipation, and it said…
“Woof woof woof, woof woof, woof woof woof woof.”
Because dogs can’t speak English. But what he meant was:
“Oh don’t mind me, I’m just the… BREWDOG!!!!”
And with that he donned a set of giant aviators he was keeping in his fur and sauntered off into the sunset.

*I don’t really. I steal their hair.

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