It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big BrewDog fan, they were the first brewery to make me take notice of proper beer so I’ll always have a soft spot for them.
Unlike many of their fans, I don’t think they’re the be all and end all of beer. But they do brew some very interesting and good quality beers. Not just the core range which are available at bargain prices in most supermarkets – they’re great for what are now mainstream beers – but it’s their one off specials and small batch brews that I admire most.
I recently became a BrewDog shareholder and one of the perks is an invite to their AGM in Aberdeen. It’s not *really* an AGM though, well it is, but it’s also a huge party. With bands, bars and great beer. So sounding like my kind of business meeting I made my first ever trip to Aberdeen for it (review coming soon).
To make a weekend of it I visited BrewDog’s brewery and taproom the day before the AGM.
Located in Ellon, about 17 miles north of Aberdeen the brewery dominates the skyline from afar. Getting closer I was blown away by the size of the place from the outside.
I mean, I know they’re pretty big since they can be found in most supermarkets and countless bars and restaurants these days but I just wasn’t prepared for the scale I encountered.
You enter straight into DogTap, the on-site taproom.
Inside the brewery looked somehow even larger than seemed from outside. Just huge.
We were taken outside and shown the tanks that had looked so impressively large on the walk past.
The numbers were all the more impressive.
Most of them hold 120,000 pints each.
The big ones 160,000. Each.
And there are LOADS of them! I lost count while trying to figure out how many total pints they could hold. Just wow.
Even more amazing is the fact that we’d walked past a building site to get here which will soon be their third brewery, five and half thousand square feet of it.
Giving them five times higher capacity!
I’ve been to several breweries over the last year and they’re mostly quite bland, sterile places.
The same can’t be said about BrewDog, back inside everywhere you look there are little nods to their personality.
And of course, neon’s.
It’s not all just pretty pictures though, there’s some really impressive equipment too.
Like a state of the art centrifuge that avoids the need to filter the beers and a canning line that can produce 15 cans a second!
And this machine that allows them to change the chemical composition of water to replicate the differences found around the world.
So hoppy pales and IPA’s can be made with the water profile of West Coast USA while German wheat beers might use water like that from Bavaria.
Then there’s the ‘Hop Cannon’ that fires loads of hops straight into the tanks, a unique way of dry hopping.
Despite gasping for a drink all the way round (torture really given the setting) and not even getting to taste beer straight from the tank as is often offered at smaller breweries, it was by far the most enjoyable brewery tour I’ve experienced.
It was genuinely interesting and I learnt loads about a company I thought I already knew a lot about. Some of the figures were just mind-boggling.
Besides the huge volume another stat that shocked me was the revelation that Punk IPA accounts for over 60% of production. Of course I expected it to be the biggest seller but knowing how many other beers they produce it’s crazy to think that all combined are still less than Punk.
The blow of no beer samples was softened somewhat by exiting the brewery straight back into DogTap.
There’s generally no better place to drink beer than a breweries own taproom and that was proven to be the case here.
The Punk tasted ridiculously fresh compared to how it can sometimes be from supermarkets. While the Five AM was so fresh it was almost a different beer, with a much more pronounced hop profile it was so lighter and far less malty than I’ve ever tasted it before.
Before leaving we took advantage of the crazy cheap takeout prices. With shareholder discount on top there was some real bargains to be had.
If you like BrewDog I’d highly recommend making the trip to Ellon if you’re ever near Aberdeen.
I’ll almost certainly return when I’m back for the AGM next year. By that point there should be a brand new, three times as large brewery for me to tour. But even if it’s not quite ready I’ll be more than satisfied with enjoying some fresh beers in DogTap.
Date of visit: 05.06.2015Follow @BeerGeekBlog Follow @FoodGeekUK