Scottish Invasion: BrewDog's Founders Visit Portland
The founders of Scotland brewing startup BrewDog paid a visit to Portland this week and made an appearance at Belmont Station's "Meet the Brewer" event. Now, most of you know that I've got an unhealthy obsession with all things Scottish: Movies, history, accents, whisky, and beer. Tonight's event gave me a special reason to celebrate as I was able to check off 3 out of 5: accents, whisky, and beer.
BrewDog came together not to long ago and founders James Watt and Martin Dickie crafted their first batch in April 2007. Most often, it takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears, time, and more sweat to make it from startup to success--but BrewDog seems to have found a shortcut: make a great product, stick to your principles, and push forward. Though that formula doesn't work for everyone, BrewDog's dedication to it's beer has put them on the world beer map. Of course, blood, sweat, and tears were involved, but James and Martin assure me that those are not actual ingredients in their beer.
I first came across BrewDog at Beaumont Market where several different beers in their Paradox series sat in an unassuming cardboard box on the floor in the cooler. If the black and gold labels weren't enough to get my attention, the small sign on the box was: $11.99 for a 12oz. bottle. I passed it up the first time. But there was always a voice in the back of my head: "go back and buy it" and "it might disappear before you try it" and "don't forget to pick up milk from the store". Actually, now that I think about it, that last one was my girlfriend's voice--the voices in my head are far less responsible.
Now my mind is telling me that the price just doubled since I've now paid $12 to drink only 6 ounces: "This better be freakin' incredible." And it was. We both agreed that it was a fantastic beer, and very complex: coffee, chocolate, vanilla, roasted grain, scotch. All of these flavors blended in warmly with the 10% alcohol backbone. $12 for 12 ounces? Yeah, pricey. But this is a very small batch beer using some very unique barrels for aging. They only use these hard to find barrels once, so if you miss one in this series, it ain't coming back. I will definitely keep a few on hand for very special occasions (and don't come knocking on my door thinking that you are that very special occasion).
The Paradox imperial stouts are aged in former whisky barrels. These barrels are specifically chosen for the qualities of the specific scotch whisky that once resided in them. The idea is that great whisky makes great barrels, so you'll often see specific labeling like "1965 Invergordon Cask". Having only tried the 1970 Glen Grant batch before, I was eager to sample three other varieties. All were exceptional with one big surprise: the Islay (Batch ?) packed a wallop of scotch peat and smoke. This was by far the most aggressive of the three and probably not meant for those without an appreciation for the qualities of scotch. If you haven't tried any of these yet, you may want to ease in with the Glen Grant or the Port Dundas, which were my favorites. But, that may change once I open the Macallan that calls to me from my fridge. In fact, I hear it now.
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