Beer and Loathing: Brewdog
Brewdog is, for those of you not well up to date with the brewing scene, the ‘Punk’ brewery. Hailing from the Fraserburgh in Scotland they have aimed to make brewing less about financial gain and more about appreciating beer for the exciting field of liquid inebriation that it is. They’ve done this, not only by making exciting beer, but by encouraging their fans to buy shares in the company. Thus avoiding having to report back to any big corporate investors or anything lame like that. Which is obviously sick. They apparently think this makes them super ‘Punk’ though, because you’ll find the word plastered over almost everything they do in weathered, torn up font. Unfortunately the last thing I saw to have the word ‘Punk’ written all over it in over-designed, shattered font was an £8 t-shirt from BHS worn by a Spanish tourist in Covent Garden.
I met a punk once. And he didn’t strike me as the sort of chap to run around telling people he was punk whilst wearing a big sign saying “I am a punk rofl look at my funny hair lol it’s all in a line lmao.” However, many of the residents of Camden do strike me as the type to do just that, and perhaps this is why the London branch of Brewdog’s drinkeries has been placed where it has.
I’m not a big fan of Camden. It’s crowded and pricey and there’s only so many times you can see the same T-shirt of a cartoon Darth Vader pruning a bush into the shape of the Death Star before you start to suspect that all the little stalls might be owned by the same group of Vietnamese dudes. Obviously, back in the day when you’d trek into London for a gig, with a bottle of shitmix made up of assorted spirits you had siphoned from your mate’s mum’s drinks cabinet, Camden was the coolest place you had ever been. But that’s because, back when you were doing that, Camden still sold ‘shrooms on every street corner so who knows what the fuck was going on then.
Brewdog have picked a nice side road though; look around and you might not even know you were in Camden. It’s a corner pub with not much floor space and a minimal concrete and glass interior design ting going on. It’s pretty cool if not very cosy. The bar maid was a friendly alt-girl (think lip piercing, tattoos, metal tee) who knew her beer and seemed stoked that we already knew the Brewdog range. We immediately went for challenging, high ABV, expensive beers served in weird measurements to try and impress her.
It was alright though because after our stupid beers we just tried to drink their more popular stuff and got a meat and cheese board and it was fucking wicked. You might have heard of ‘Punk IPA’, ’77 Lager’ and ‘Trashy Blonde’, they are very occasionally on taps in London and fairly often in cans or bottles in the beer aisle of big supermarkets (think Tesco extra rather than Tesco Metro/Express.) The beer was good and I would recommend all of them, but what blew us away was the meat and cheese board. At first we were like ‘nope. We are hungry and this is not enough food’ but then upon digging in you discover that you have in fact embarked on a journey to discover how many combinations of meat, cheese, bread and pickle you can conjure before you have created them all. Then you discuss with your board mate your favourites. Then you reach an agreement of how to split the remaining commodities on the plate. Then you consume what remains. It’s not a meal. It’s an activity. And one that left me not only with a full belly, but with a warm sense of achievement.
Another side story of note that doesn’t really affect the Brewdog pub’s final score but annoyed me super hard goes as follows: Three Scottish businessmen walk into the bar the bar maid says ‘is this some kind of joke?’ No. But really. These three dudes come in and are talking in Scottish about how Brewdog is a Scottish brewery and “isn’t that awesome?” Then they go up to the bar and one orders a Guiness and another orders a Stella. The bar maid has to politely be like “No, as you just so astutely discussed, we are an outlet of a Scottish brewery, thus only have our own beers on tap”.
“So what do you have that’s like Stella?”
“Well our 77 Lager is… a Lager”
“I suppose it’s the nearest thing to Stella, yes.”
“Och fine that’ll do”
I really, really don’t get it. Why would you go out of your way to go to a brewery tap and then kick off when they don’t have mass produced beers? Are you actively trying to annoy and confuse yourself? It’s like going into a McDonald’s and asking for a Ginsters Pasty. They aren’t going to have it. You’re stupid. They only have McDonald’s stuff. You would not only get a foul look from the staff but customers in the queue with you would actively laugh in your face. In fact people might move away from you. They would think you were dangerously mental for trying to get hold of a specific brand of snack in an outlet that solely sells their own, different brand of snack. I welcome and look forward to the day that somebody can wander into a specialist beer pub owned by a specific brewery, order a Carling and society will deem me perfectly within my rights to laugh in their face and go – “are you fucking thick? You can see what they sell! Get out! Get out and fuck off and leave everyone alone!” Much as I would do today to anybody ordering a Big Mac in a Burger King.
It’s Camden so real hipsters are kind of rare. You just get kids that either think they’re in The Strokes or The Libertines. You know? The little leather jacket, skinny jeans and pointy shoes gig for the wannabe Stroke. Or replace the leather jacket with a waistcoat and some rosary beads for the Libertine. However there were some young professional types in here who looked like they were probably cool and obviously all the bar staff had to be ‘punk’ although I think this was more punk in the ‘I listen to Bane’ sense than the ‘I listen to Crass’ sense.
As much as it’s fun to rip into it, Camden is the only logical place for a brewery that prides itself on its punk credentials to set up shop. And it’s far enough away from the Asian people guilt tripping you into eating their food by letting you try a little bit of it to attract the non-tourist crowd.
Probably expensive, but expensive for fruity beers that you can’t really try anywhere else so if you’re a beer wanker like myself and my partner in crime, then it’s worth it. If you’re some lost business cunt who wants a Stella then the prices will probably hurt a bit, but then you should probably also be dead.
You can’t take your drink outside for a fag, what little floor space there is has tables taking it all up and there are no amenities for standing up people. By amenities for standing up people I mean little shelves at standing up person height. So, yes. I imagine when it does get busy it turns into somewhat of a clusterfuck of confused standing up people desperately trying to rest their drinks on one another. Although having never been in there during such hours this is pure conjecture.
Do you have any god awful pubs in mind for Jack to go to at some point in the future? If you do please harass him on twitter @beerandloathinz