Friday, 28 January 2011

Hello, My Name is Brewdog.

When Brewdog does Burns Night in London you would expect them to do it in some style, so when a it was announced that they were doing a 5 course tasting menu matched with beers at the White Horse in Parson's Green, with a promise of a taster of AB:05 and other brewdog rarities, there was nothing to do other than to convince the wife to overcome her fear of bagpipes and jump on the train.

The pub is an excellent venue for these kind of events and generally has a great range of draft and bottles beers. Their food menu looked good and each dish was paired with a recommended beer. The dinner was being hosted over two areas of the pub, upstairs and a back dining room. I believe there were 90 places at the event so credit to the kitchen for getting all the food out in a timely manner.

We got there early and started sampling halves of the brewdog beers. Alice Porter (excellent), New Punk ( from cask, a little lacking in condition), Edge (an awesome mild) and Alpha Dog (a fairly standard bitter, I was expecting more of a 5am saint on steroids) were all consumed before the off. A mini stampede to the function room at the back and we were treated to a 7 course tasting menu, but sadly no AB:05 as it was not ready yet.

We were hosted in the dining room by Tom and Josie, two of brewdog's dynamic sales team and had James, replete in his kilt and work boots, pop down from hosting the upstairs room to give us a talk about each beer.

So the haggis spring rolls with a spicy chilli sauce. The pair of spring rolls were crisp and had a nice meaty centre, the sauce unfortunately was ketchup like and heavy, overpowering the haggis filling and was slightly disappointing. I had imagined a light Thai-style chilli dipping sauce and think that would have been much better. James taught us how to introduce ourselves to the beer and the beer, the new Punk IPA certainly said hello back just bursting with tropical fruit hop aromas, probably the most in your face aroma of any beer I can remember. The taste did not disappoint either with the hops again to the fore but lacking the edgy bitterness that was a hallmark of the original punk. The match was not the best of the night, the overpowering spicy sauce obliterating all those nice tropical fruit flavours and the bitterness was not there to allow the sweet/bitter/hot rollercoaster described here

The salmon with was a simple Japanese style preparation with a bowl of Soy sauce and some leaves. The beer needs a bit more explaining. Hello, my name is Ingrid is a double IPA with cloudberries, brewed especially for the Swedish market. It has a strong malt slightly sweet backbone really good dry hop aroma and taste and a lingering fruity tang of the cloudberries . Such a shame it is not normally available in the UK. The food match was superb with the sweetness of the beer duelling with the salt from the soy. However skip the soy and it was not good at all.

Cullen Skink a traditional Scottish potato soup with smoked haddock, rich thick and warming with a great smoky taste. This was matched with Bitch please. I think this was a last minute substitution for the AB05 and never have I come across such a mad beer. James introduced it by putting on a nice little song. It was brewed in conjunction with Three Floyds who added heaps of shortbread and toffee to the boil. It was not a clear fact this beer could be served in slabs! Seriously sweet and rich too much for me on its own but it was my wife's favourite beer of the night. This however was one of the best and probably most unexpected beer match of the night, the thick smoky soup seemed to calm this mad beer down and allow it to show off some amazing flavours of toffee aniseed candyfloss and a rich spicy undertone. One to watch out for when it is released in April, the extra conditioning could make this something special.

After a piper,  and a scotsman quoting Robbie Burns stabbing a haggis we had our main course. Tasting notes become a bit patchy from here on in. The haggis neeps and tatties were matched with Alice Porter. A pleasant combination but I found the porter a bit lacking against the strong haggis flavours and sweet neeps. Or perhaps it was my pallet struggling to get rid of the large glass of Bitch Please followed by the shot of whisky.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin (if there is any better named beer I have not found it) is a beer that I have had once before. Seriously strong and smoky I found it interesting but not enjoyable, bit like I feel like a peaty single malt. Add an dollop of vanilla ice cream and it becomes an heavenly interesting shot - the overpowering alcohol and smoke are calmed by the creamy vanilla and it all melds perfectly.

Cranachan was great, creamy cream, sharp raspberries and crunchy oats. Black Tokyo Horizon was the beer match. This is the darkest of dark stouts, a Brewdog collaboration with Mikkeller and Nogne-O. Another very sweet beer and a thumping 15% but the overall effect with the cranachan was good. The carbonation cleansed the cream the sweetness mixed well with the sharp raspberries and the beer added a nice chocolate note and a long bitter coffee like aftertaste.

Finally we had the cheese plate; a blue, a cheddar and a brie. All very nice cheeses served with fantastic oatcakes.The beer served with it was Hardcore IPA, an interesting choice to serve - a dry very hoppy bitter beer with the cheese. The beer totally obliterated the brie, and to my suprise, did not stand up at all against the cheddar, hardly making an impact on the strong flavours. The match with the Dunsyre Blue was absolutely spot on. The tangy strong cheese and earthy oatcake seemed to be lifted and enhanced by the beer and resulted in a salty, creamy, bitter, oaty, hoppy merri-go-round that went on for an age in the mouth. Truly the match of the night. Pass the thanks! If you take anything away from this blog is should be that Hardcore IPA is the beverage to match with a blue cheese.

A great night, some very good food and great beer well matched. Say what you like about Brewdog but they have come a long way in a few years and long may they put on events like this.

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