Sunday, November 17, 2013

BrewDog at Tadg's in Kyoto / ブリュードッグ テイスティングイベント at タイグズ - 11/16/2013

The alpha dogs came to Kyoto last weekend.

Tadg's Irish Bar & Restaurant held an event featuring Scotland's famed BrewDog. BrewDog is probably the best known Scottish craft brewery, largely due to their entertaining anti-corporate attitude and frequent clashes with long-established groups, including CAMRA, in the UK. They are also expert at creating promotional stunts, often involving extremely high-alcohol brews - can you say 50%? --and even bottles wrapped in dead animals. These guys don't shy from the limelight. In fact, they produce it.

From 2-4pm, the event was limited to those involved in the beer business and a few specially invited guests. We were lucky to be included in the latter group.

During the first hour, we enjoyed samples of the following limited-edition brews: Abstrakt 13 Black Ale (11.3%), Cocoa Psycho Imperial Stout (10%), Dog B Imperial Stout (15.1%), along with some of their regulars, including Punk IPA. Jackhammer, and Dead Pony.

Neil Taylor, International BrewDog Bars representative, gave a short talk in English, which included a brief history of the brewery, and Mark Meli (author of Craft Beer in Japan: The Essential Guide) provided simultaneous interpretation for the several Japanese bar owners and store operators in attendance.

Neil explained the founding spirit of the brewery: 1) to make the kind of beer that they wanted to drink, and 2) to make people more passionate about beer. Given BrewDog's popularity and standing among beer geeks, it's pretty clear that they have succeeded in both respects. Although some might complain that many of BrewDog's offerings are expensive, Neil stated that their customers definitely get value for their money.

He then described several of the beers we had sampled, including ingredients, brew techniques, and even special occasions that had inspired them. For example, their favorite hop is Simcoe, and this high-alpha variety is a major component of many BrewDog beers.

He went on to a discussion of recent business developments.

Equity for Punks. They have begun selling shares in the company to some of their regular customers. He also that their AGM is really more like a party than a traditional shareholders meeting.

A New Brewery. They have moved to a more modern and much bigger facility. However, the old brewery is still in operation, which has allowed them to begin experiments with more types of yeast, separately from the main production facility. New employees are regularly trained on the older brewery equipment. Also, most of their one-offs and limited-edition brews are produced there.

The new brewery has a 70,000 hectoliter capacity, more than twice that of the older one, which will greatly expand their production volume. It also is also much closer to Aberdeen, making transportation less time consuming.

Tadg's opened to the general public at 6pm, by which point we had already sampled pretty much everything on offer. But we stayed around for seconds, and even thirds, of these inspired brews. The dogs were off the leash.

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