Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Brewdog's Dinner at the Book Club

The Hillhead Book Club

In recent weeks, Brewdog have been attempting to up their profile in Glasgow and the West of Scotland with showcases and sponsorships aimed at making punters more aware of their tasty, irreverent and innovative beer brand.

Firstly, there was a Brewdog showcase and tasting in a city Wetherspoons where the likes of 5 a.m.Saint, Trashy Blonde and Punk IPA were available to the delight of grog guzzling Glaswegians. Secondly, they are the proud sponsors of the Celtic Beer Festival at the iconic Glasgow pub, The Bon Accord. The festival features Scottish, Welsh and Cornish beers with a diverse range of Brewdog beers available too. I was in the Bon at the weekend and three Brewdog beers were on - Edge, 5 a.m.Saint and Hardcore IPA.

In the Book Club

Hot on the heels of these two events comes a further Glasgow Brewdog happening designed to make your mouth water and taste buds tingle - a food and beer collaboration between the Fraserburgh upstarts and one of Glasgow's newly opened and up and coming West End pubs - The Hillhead Book Club. According to both parties they share a 'passion for individuality, quality' and a 'naughty but nicely creative streak'. Sounds like a food and drink marriage made in heaven.

Ordinarily, these beer and food pairing events adopt the format of food produced, served up and accompanied by a beer picked to complement the food and enhance not only the flavour of the food but also the taste of the beer. This one is a bit different. Inspired by, and using, Brewdog beers as basic ingredients in the menu, the Head Chef at the Book Club, Matt has created a Brewdog's dinner of three deliciously beery, epicurean and alcoholic courses with dishes such as, 5a.m. Gammon with amber ale and caramelised apples, beer potted shrimp with dumplings, Hardcore flank of beef and onions with IPA gravy and gingerbread with Paradox and cinnamon ice cream Or, perhaps artisan cheese with Tactical Nuclear chutney.

The Hillhead Book Club has been opened since May this year and they describe themselves as 'an occasionally eclectic, but always, rewarding haven for the independently minded'. The Book Club's mission is to 'deliver high quality food and drinks in a relaxed Bohemian setting at a price your Gran would approve'. Hopefully, on tonight's showing, it is mission accomplished.

Brewdog James

The evening began with an hour long, entertaining and often humorous, talk by Brewdog's co-founder James Watt on the phenomenal rise and growth of not only Brewdog the brewery but also the brand. Three years ago they were a Two Men and a Dog operation buying hops to brew with on personal credit cards because their finance lines at the bank had been exhausted. Today, they employ 37 staff, one Dog and produce 500,000 bottles of super tasty beer per month.

James went on in great length about the awards won, the commendations and the criticisms, the acres of publicity and column inches gained on the cheap and at the expense of a handful of upset Germans, a dozen beer stuffed roadkill, some knee jerk journalists and moral crusaders. He also launched into a powerful and persuasive invective against the power and shoddy practices of the brewing multinationals. Oh, and we even got to hear how none of the Brewdog bunch have ever had conjugal relations with Mother Teresa.

James' chat was interspersed with liberal tastings of their stunning bottled beers. We started on the relatively low abv beers of 5 a.m. Saint (4.1%) and Punk IPA (6%). James was encouraging us to strike up a conversation with our beers and to listen to what they were saying. All I could hear was , Drink Me, Drink Me!

Next up for a taste was Bashah, the 8.2% collaboration with U.S. Craft Beer masters Stone Brewing Company.  This beer was delightful. It is aged in Highland Park whisky casks and is chock full of gorgeous, ripe Aberdeenshire black raspberries and was my favourite beer of the night. Only two casks of the beer was produced and I hope I get my hands on a bottle of one these rarities soon. Our final two beers of the tasting before we got fed were Hardcore IPA (9.2%) and at (15%) some AB : 04.

Hardcore flank of Beef with IPA gravy

I was getting hungry now and was looking forward to the Brewdog/Book Club menu. The three course dinner was tasty, hearty and showcased the versatility of flavoursome Brewdog beers not only as an accompaniment to food but also when used as the ingredients.

For Starters, I had the salt and pepper Calamari with chilli dip. No brewdog beers in this dish but I had a bottle of Punk IPA with it and it went down a treat. Next up was the hardcore flank of beef and onions with IPA gravy. The beef was tender and the IPA onion gravy was striking in its balance of sweet onion and robust bitterness.

Tactical Nuclear Chutney

I still had room for a little bit more lovely food and I really wanted to taste the Tactical Nuclear Chutney, so I went for the cheese board with a selection of Lanark Blue, Morangie and Glazert cheeses with afore mentioned chutney. The cheese and TNC combination was lovely. The TNC was more subtle than I expected and allowed the cheeses to stand on their own two feet flavour wise.

Just as the cheeseboard was being polished off, James appeared at our table with a couple of snifters of Sink The Bismarck, the 41% beer that used to carry the crown of World's Strongest Beer. I had expected it to be a sickly, syrupy alcoholic mish mash of a beer but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a lovely, warming sipper that left me feeling like a boozy Ready Brek kid all-a-glow inside as it made it's way south down my throat. We were further treated to some thing rather special - an ice distilled version of AB : 04 which came in at a hefty 38%. This Imperial Stout tasted of lovely sweet, ripe fruit, cocoa and a very subtle chilli kick in the after burn.

It was a perfect way to end the Brewdog's Dinner. Some lovely beers and excellent chat in a great venue with an original and inventive menu. Not to mention a few really nice beer surprises too.

Can't wait for the next one.


  1. Sounds like fun, food looks lovely too.

    I so want to try that ice distilled AB:04

  2. It was a great night, Andy.

    Excellent beer ans food. You really ought to try and get your hands on the ice distilled AB:04.
    Anyone know where i can get a bottle of the Bashah. It was superb.