Brewdog: Breaking The Ice: A Cold Weekends AGM

Brewdog: Breaking The Ice: A Cold Weekends AGM

(Disclaimer: I am not a 100% unbiased actor when it comes to Brewdog, as should be fairly obvious as I’m writing about their AGM)

(Note: James and Martin requested that some information to do with new beers, etc would not be put up to people’s blogs and much as I would love to talk about them I will respect their request. As of such this write up covers more the social aspect of the event than the business aspect. I will also resist the urge to upload the information to Wikileaks. Probably.)

Arrival

So it came to pass that Brewdog’s first AGM would fall on a weekend when, as always, people in Britain seemed completely unprepared for the unique occurrence of large amounts of snow falling in winter. Thus train services ground to halt, planes sat grounded, and the four horsemen themselves were rumoured to have been sighted if you believed the tabloid front pages.  Because of that, only the most insane and hardcore fans (or just those who happened to live nearby) fell upon Aberdeen, for the AGM and its promised accompanying festivities.

On the way to my hotel for the weekend, the taxi driver warned me against trying to head to the Brewdog bar that night, promising that the fifteen minute walk in such artic like conditions would result in calamity beyond reckoning.

So five minutes walk later I found myself at the bar on the mildly chilly night, with a newfound respect for taxi driver’s skills in extreme exaggeration and hyperbole.

Aberdeen: Brewdog Bar

I’d heard a lot about the Aberdeen Bar and was looking forwards to seeing how it fared to its reputation. First impression of it were that it was dim lit and with an almost industrial look, memories of cheap and tacky nightclubs from my university days rose unbidden.  Thankfully the resemblances were slight, with a much more natural feel than those plastic monstrosities and a genial atmosphere in the packed pub.

Upon enquiring at the bar, the barmaid gushed enthusiastically about the beers I had mentioned, reeling off almost a tasting note level of detail on the spot.  Similarly whilst writing a tasting note, one of the passing bar staff asked my thoughts on the beer, leading to us comparing notes.  The level of enthusiasm and discussion was fantastic, and the bottle list matched easily, with Stone Brewing, Three Floyds, Nogne O, Brewdog (of course) and more.

The only downside of this night was that there was very little warning of the pubs midnight closing. When you have a 10% abv or higher beer in your hand, the last thing you want is to rush it, and the somewhat hurried attempt to empty the bar led to having to finish quicker than the beer deserved, a minor note, but irritating.

The Brewery Tour

Come the morning, come the brewery tour.  The first thing  we saw as we walked through the hallowed brewery gates? We found ourselves presented with glasses of 5 AM Saint. A welcome I could not object to. Though the current Brewdog grounds are small, the tour was immensely more in depth than any other I have been upon.  There were frank and open discussions of keg vs cask and the benefits of each, of brewing successes and disasters, and detailed explanations on the differences made by the different yeasts, hops and malts.  Very informative, and the Head Brewer was more than happy to discuss beers that did not go so well, such at the attempt to do an all whole hop Goldings ale that had blocked up the pipes, or exploding key kegs.  The whole feel was one of experimentation, with a board of wild ideas to be tried, and tales of attempts gone wrong or so very right, and some ideas which I hope so very much turn into actually brewing batches.

The whole thing also did bring into perspective just what a small area Brewdog currently has to use, at least until their new Brewery is complete.

For downsides, the only real lack was on unusual swag available at the sales table. James or Martin had mentioned a hope to have a few Alpha Dogs (an export only beer) at some point at the AGM, but it seems that turned out not to be possible, nor any of their other export only beers.  A pity, as it would have added a cool chance to try something normally not available, for whilst there were many tasty beers throughout the AGM, none were ones you could not get from the Aberdeen bar normally.

The AGM Speech

The AGM speech itself was held in the wonderful Musa Restaurant.  Amongst the expected information on profit and turnover and future expansion James littered many tales of unfortunate misunderstandings at business competitions and times where the line was pushed just a touch too far.  Acknowledging the somewhat unusual nature of the speech at one point he paused and wondered out loud if other AGMs were like this, with talk of lesbians, or f***ing Mother Teresa.

(A sentence that makes much more sense in context) .

With a free bar, and vast quantities of wonderful beer influenced food brought out it really felt like a top class event.   Musa is a fantastic restaurant, the food was rich and flavoursome, cooked to perfection. The meatballs being especially delicious.  I would recommend anyone in Aberdeen giving the place a try.

The Pub Party

Finally back at the bar free samples were handed out. With the AGM crowd and the regulars happily intermingled, the samples were open to all. Against the wave of people, Martin stood on the bar trying desperately to make himself heard over the crowd as he described whatever latest wonder was put on tap.  Especially great was the AB04. A very good beer in bottle, it becomes a thing of legend on tap.  Taken on tap it stands up alongside the best of the Imperial Stout world.

The friendly crowd made sharing the larger high abv bottles of beer easy, allowing many fine beers could be sampled including the delicious Alesmith Speedway Stout.   The prices were not cheep, but for most of these imported beers they were very reasonable compared to what I usually see them listed for.

Downsides?  Some bottled beer and some taps seemed too cold. I don’t know if it was due to the prevailing temperature but even for beers that do well chilled a few seemed well below ideal temperature.

Conclusion

Aside from the organised events, which for all the minor issues I brought up was fantastic, the main thing that I brought away from this event was that everyone at it really felt the enthusiasm.  I lost count of the number of tales of the discovery of craft beers altering people from guzzling pints to appreciating sipping quality beer.  The number of tasting note writers was high, and their happy appreciation soliloquies of taste oft put mine to shame.

A weekend where everyone felt the joy of beer and culture intertwined, and hopefully next year will be even better.

Cheers