Thursday, 1 March 2012

BrewDog (Camden)

BrewDog have opened a bar in Camden. For those unaware, they are Scotland’s rebel craft brewers, largely renowned for being the whippersnapper antagonists of CAMRA and the purveyors of 41% IPA ‘Sink The Bismarck!’ which had the Daily Mail in a flutter for about 24 hours.

The bar, in an old pub behind the high street, has an equally irreverent air. In fact, when I visited at about 2pm on a Saturday, it was already debauched to the point of Bacchanalian (as opposed to Dionysian at 10 Greek Street, of course).

A beer gig like this can often be hellish, like some sort of Earl's Court convention. Fat, flatulent blokes scratching their beards, sipping at third-pint taster glasses and then sweating it all out.

But not at BrewDog, where skinny trussed-up blokes scratch their beards, sip third-pint tasters and try to out-craft-speak one another. Herein lies the difference.

I guess the BrewDog crowd appreciate bold typography, social media and mantras about PUNKS! whereas the CAMRA types prefer 3.2% milds with twee illustrations of Cornish steam trains. Guess which side of the fence I’m on…

My one gripe is obvious if you go; that BrewDog is a victim of its own success. They’re making an effort in terms of lots of (clued-up) staff, but the place is too small for the demand. I think people actually queue up before opening time.

In terms of the food, it’s basically to soak up the beer. But some thought has gone into the burgers and pizzas, which have crazy ingredients and hipster place names like Los Feliz and Williamsburg. My burger (about £5-6) was the archetype of a ‘dirty burger’ but well executed – oozing cheap cheese, medium rare patty, relish and some cursory veg. Perfect. One red flag was the bun which was a bit hard, and probably from the freezer. Looks pretty anaemic now.

The beer is great of course, but I’m stumped if I could tell you what I had. I know the 5am Saint and Punk IPA made appearances, as well as a 4/3 tasting flight of various things between 7 and 10%. BrewDog sell other breweries’ beers which I thought deserved some credit. No Camden, Meantime or Kernel wares unsurprisingly, but there were some Anchor Steam and Goose Island brews among the lesser known brewers.

Their current collaboration with Danish Gods of craft beer, Mikkeller, meant that a head to head showdown was taking place (with the whole bar in raptures voting for each beer) and it led to this rather snazzy looking fridge of beers.

The fantastically designed Mikkeller range

In summary: arrive early, drink lots, get hungry, eat dirty burger, leave drunk anyway. Brilliant.

Food – 8/10
Drink – 10/10
Service - 8/10
Value – 7/10 (beer 6, food 9)
Tap water tales – 2/10 (don't dare ask!)
Staff Hotness – 7/10 (grizzly hipsters, very well versed though)
BrewDog on Urbanspoon 
Square Meal

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