Saturday, 14 November 2009

BrewDog In New York: Epilogue

So, in the last thrilling instalment, BrewDog were featuring in a Wednesday night beer event at the Blind Tiger in New York, which, since I didn't already mention it, is my favourite NYC drinking hole.

I did some asking around, and had a BA secret shopper on the ground. First, from a BT insider...
I think that kind of extreme movement is always fun and jazzy, but what ends up really playing through is the quality, which Brew Dog does have. It is not just big beers for the sake of big beers - there is a real foundation there - heck, the black lager was a hit. That said, at the price point, most of the beers are special adventures for most patrons... some are solid beers with great stories, while others are new dynamics of classic styles.
Looking back over the BT Wednesday events in 2009, I think this is only the second time a European brewer has had a dedicated event. From the comments I picked up, it seems beers like Atlantic IPA got enough attention that the Tiger were keen to give them a play. They also have an importer and distributor network working for them. In NYC, its the same people who distribute Budweiser from AB-Inbev.

So, bars who want to sell BrewDog have some infrastructure to work with. What about the view from the other side of the bar? My man on the ground had a slightly different perspective:
Got [to BT] late, like 7:30. Place wasn't packed like some brewers can accomplish.

The regular Smokehead Imperial Stout fooled me. I got a taste, knowing it could suck, but the tiny sip was ok enough that I got a glass... All plastic and baby diaper.

So the Punk IPA can't suck, right? Wrong. Thin, one-note, no malt to speak of. Got a little better by the time it warmed up to room temp. Still shite.

The Zeitgeist Schwarzbier was appropriately roasty. However, it was inappropriately diacetyl-y. Fortunately, not so laden that it was undrinkable. I'd give it the "gentleman's Meh".

This was the most disappointing "event" this year at the Blind Tiger since Kuhnhenn.
This isn't the exception. US beer drinkers on one forum I read are still leery of BrewDog, especially since the beers are priced at a premium. One noted that "bad reviews across the board = avoid, esp considering they aren't cheap". Atlantic IPA was on sale at the Tiger for $40 a bottle. Unbelievable for a beer that sells at The Rake in London for £12, even through the US distribution system BrewDog says tripped them up when they first started shipping Stateside.

There's a piece about the brewery from last weekends' Sunday Times. It seems their new 'A' shareholders are on-board to help with breaking the US market. I wonder though, while problems of pricing and quality scare beer drinkers off and BrewDog don't have an Aunt Sally to shy at like they do here (all other 'boring' microbrewers, CAMRA, Portman Group) to differentiate their brand, how do they fix this?

I might be inferring a lot from one night in one bar in one city. However, it seems to me that at some point BrewDog will have to abandon their po-mo pranksterism and concentrate on brewing consistent, quality beers for all their markets.

BrewDog will be at LoveBeer@Borough next Saturday, 21st November, for another 'Meet The Brewer' event. Tickets are selling fast, so they tell me...


surfadelic23 said...

Havin a cccb marshal zhukov's imperial stout... Saving a bottle for our next outting!
Mr. Delic

Melissa Cole said...

Oi cheeky chops, we're sold out and thinking about putting another one on - selling fast so they tell me indeed!!! : )

Anyhoo, love the Blind Tiger but the service is could do with speeding up a bit, the owner is super-sweet however and the beer selection awesome!!!!

Love your comment over on Rabid Barfly BTW, amused the hell out of me!

Sid Boggle said...

Hi Melissa, when I wrote this, there were a few 1pm tix left... ;-)