BEERY beardies got an early Christmas present on Tuesday night when self-styled “maverick” craft ale chain BrewDog gave them a sneak preview of its wares.
BrewDog Liverpool opens to the public tonight (Thursday) and is the Aberdeenshire company's 10th venue this year. Colquitt Street is the address, and according to its founders the bar will “change the face of beer in the region”.
The concept has been sniffed at by some - a "Starbucks of real ales”, being one criticism levelled. Whatever you might think of that, the BrewDog mission, “to provide a totem to craft beer in every major city in the UK” seems to offer little in the way of contradiction.
They say: ‘Far from simply providing another watering hole in the city, BrewDog intends its Liverpool bar to forge a new definition for beer in a region previously dominated by mass produced lagers.”
Nevertheless, on its launch night the independent micro-brewers of Liverpool (of which there are many) were giving the snifters of powerful ale, from the powerful stock market player, plenty of “hmmms” of a beneficial kind.
Meanwhile, couples got cosy playing chess under the glow of chintzy standard lamps that would make Ena Sharples feel comfortable necking a milk stout.
Says BrewDog co-founder James Watt: “The new bar is at the heart of one of Liverpool’s most exciting districts, and we will be adding to the existing array of cool bars and venues in the area, which have already demonstrated the changing tide of craft beer in the city.”
For those unfamiliar, BrewDog serves lots of beers on tap, 30 in LIverpool, many of them as strong as a bottle of wine.
Good news for those whose thirst is quenched by a six pack of Tennants Super Strength. But they might have to save up or sip slowly. These super-ABV ales don’t come cheap, or in full pints. That is not the point. You savour the complex flavour.
Expect myriad bouquets of hops and flowers at BrewDog, in the same way as you would expect the heady waft of industrial disinfectant to knock you off your feet in that favourite CAMRA watering hole not a million miles away.
Apart from BrewDog’s own labels, which all have edgy names like the signature Punk IPA, Cocoa Psycho and Anarchy, they stock bottled gear from renowned breweries from all over the globe, including Mikkeller, Flying Dog, Evil Twin, Mad Hatter and Stone.
Confidential's operative very slowly and thoughfully guzzled just two brews over the course of the evening (Just two? You can't get the staff these days, Ed).
The first, a fine thing called IPA Is Dead Citra at 6.7pc ABV, soft but with lots of exotic fruit and citrusy bitterness.
Then its darker, more powerful friend, I Hardcore You, a marriage between two breweries, BrewDog and Mikkeller. It is a blend of BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA and Mikkeller’s I Beat You. At 9.5pc ABV, this will set you back a fiver for a half.
A fiver for a half? wondered her slightly truculent companion.
That was not the point, she remind him, firing up a cigar. "After the blending, the beer is dry hopped a further twice. Making I Hardcore You a beer which has been dry hopped four times, or maybe even six times."
BrewDog is Scotland’s largest independent brewery and follows openings in São Paulo, Tokyo, Sheffield, Gothenburg, Dundee, Florence, Cardiff, Ellon in Aberdeenshire and Clapham Junction, London.
“Liverpool has a host of highly trained Cicerone Beer Servers qualified experts tending the bar,” it says here.
There is also a ‘press for beer’ button at each booth to alert bar staff about service needs to ensure drinkers never go thirsty. It also plans regular Meet the Brewer events and BrewDog staff will also provide brew sessions and beer schools for customers who want to learn more about craft beer and the brewing process.
Says Watt: “Liverpool has an awesome heritage of carving its own path, disregarding the homogeny of the mainstream, as well as an historic connection to beer. Some of the earliest IPAs bound for India departed British shores from the ports of Merseyside, so this new bar is something of a craft beer homecoming.”
And if you don't like it, you can hop it.