Many miles away, something crawls from the slime…
At the bottom of a dark Scottish lake…
Well, those conniving canines at BrewDog have done it again. Gone and made a ridiculous beer using completely unorthodox and unnecessary methods, all just to grab headlines and attention. The scandalous scamps who brought you Tactical Nuclear Penguin (a 32% Imperial Stout), Sink the Bismarck (a 41% Quad IPA), and The End of History (a 55% blonde Belgian ale packaged in either a stoat or squirrel carcass), have taken beer where it has never been brewed before: the bottom of the ocean.
Sunk Punk, a 7.1% IPA, was actually fermented underwater in the North Sea. Yes there are some interesting added ingredients including buckweed, distilled sea-salt, rum and… mermaids? Okay, so these brewing punks are into gimmicky things, clearly. They are over the top, obnoxious, in your face, and completely uncalled for in most cases.
And I love it.
I have heard all kinds of hue and cry and railing against the Scottish brewery’s antics, claims of “just make good beer and knock off the showmanship”, and so on. During the “ABV battle” between BrewDog and Schorschbrau, we heard a lot of the same outcry: “High alcohol for high alcohol’s sake is not brewing!” Reviews of TNP and StB were mixed, some claiming greatness, others denouncing them as just overpriced alcohol burn. I never had the opportunity to try any of them as they were not widely available, and they were fairly expensive. But the bottom line was and still is: people were talking about them.
The consummate showman P.T. Barnum is credited with giving us the phrase “The is no such thing as bad publicity.” I would disagree with the specifics of that, but in this case, if people are talking about craft beer in a new way, and discussing what the definition of beer is, I think that is a good thing. Is a 55% drink still beer? Honestly, I don’t care what you call it. Would I try it? Absolutely.
BrewDog has made a reputation for themselves in a short amount of time for being “out there” and unconventional. Brash and with the “punk” attitude, challenging anyone to say they can’t. What gets lost in all of this, unfortunately, is that they do make some very good beers. Their Punk and Hardcore IPAs are great and I think the Paradox (whiskey-barrel aged Imperial Stout) is excellent. In fact every beer I have had from them was very good.
I would love to try to Sunk Punk, but the chances of that are slim. The price of shipping to Florida from Scotland is prohibitively expensive, and so unless I have a friend who gets their paws on some or James and Martin decide to send me an early Robert Burns Day gift, I will never get to sample this unique creation. But I love the idea. Being a pirate at heart myself, the addition of rum, the Jolly Roger on the tank, and possibly essence of mermaid is a very appealing mix.
So that is my take on the “controversy”, as it were. I say keep pushing those limits. Keep challenging expectations and definitions. Keep doing what no one else is doing or willing to do. But most importantly, keep making great beer.