Another year, another BrewDog AGM.
This is true. But the real reason is that I seem to have slipped out of good blogger mode recently. I didn’t take nearly as many notes or photographs as I used to do.
Perhaps I was just having too much fun or something?
One thing that wasn’t the same this year though was the token system.
The old method of BrewDog branded plastic coins has been replaced by a simpler card system. They represented 12 tokens each and were priced at £15 per card. Meaning a decrease of 41p per token. However, that was countered by most beers costing 3 or 4 tokens compared to 2 or 3 in previous years.
Overall most drinks were significantly more expensive, though still comparable to bar prices.
Every year I tell myself I’ll start with something sensible. Every year I don’t.
This time the accolade went to the newly released ‘Born To Die’. Which was tasting far better than the last version and in fact, probably the best since the very first one.
As ever, BrewDog were joined by some esteemed guest breweries. Including Stone Berlin; UK favourites Buxton and Wild; Scottish neighbours Fierce; new Ohio neighbors Rhinegeist; and most excitingly for me, Wicked Weed.
They were spread across seven bars (plus Truck Norris outside).
After a few more beers it was time to take a seat for the main event.
James and Martin received their usual rock star reception. After a few jokes it was down to business, briefly. Starting with some strong performance figures – 97% increase in UK sales, Punk and Dead Pony up 130% and 160% respectively etc. Then it was time for a few more interesting announcements.
The Ellon brewery is soon to be upgraded again. With five new 20HL tanks outside DogTap for more small batch brews. And a new bottling line designed to fill over 45,000 bottles an hour!
Meanwhile, across the pond, the first test batches of Punk IPA were said to be sat in the brand new fermenters at the recently opened Columbus, Ohio brewery.
There were updates and announcements of new bars. From Franklinton – their second bar in Ohio – to a second in Edinburgh and a third in Glasgow, this time a Hopworks.
And one non-BrewDog branded too; the first LoneWolf Speakeasy downstairs at the Castlegate bar.
Several new beers were announced including Pump Action Poet and East Coast Crush. As well as a rebrew of their Cloudwater collaboration and 5AM Saint in cans (finally!)
Other bits and pieces of news included the launch of a chilled transport network and a book later in the year.
But the biggest news by far was investment by San Fransisco based ‘growth firm’ TSG Consumer Partners. They invested £213 million to acquire a 22% stake in BrewDog. With £100 million going straight into the business for immediate expansion plans, including proposed breweries in Australia and Asia.
The deal values BrewDog at a staggering £1billion! And increases the value of EFPs shares by a minimum of 177% (for those who invested in the last share sale in 2016) and as much as 2,700% for early investors in 2010.
Of course this ‘takeover’ was music to the ears of the many BrewDog bashers. The internet was flooded with claims that BrewDog are the latest brewery to ‘sell out’.
Which is of course nonsense as James and Martin are still majority shareholders with complete control.
It seemed only right to celebrate with some more beers.
There was plenty to do besides drinking including: signing the sign.
Admiring the Lego version of their new Ohio brewery and taproom.
And one of my favourite parts of every AGM, the tasting sessions.
I over did it a bit last year by attending three of them. So went for a much more sensible two this time.
Firstly, the legendary American brewery Wicked Weed.
The talk was headed up by Richard who had literally got off a plane hours earlier to start his career with BrewDog. Having left Wicked Weed to help open Overworks, BrewDog’s new sour beer facility.
He spoke passionately about both his work with Wicked Weed and his future work with BrewDog. His knowledge and enthusiasm was immediately obvious. I think Overworks is in very safe hands and can’t wait for their first sour brews to be released.
The session included samples of two different Wicked Weed beers.
‘Genesis’ is a sour saison aged in red wine barrels with added mango, papaya and guava. A great beer, extremely complex but yet utterly drinkable.
Better still was ‘Silencio’. A sour black ale aged in bourbon barrels with the addition of fermented coffee and vanilla beans. An early contender for beer of the day, quite possibly beer of the year. Totally unique and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.
Before my next tasting I had time to check out the new LoneWolf bar who were serving G&T’s of the just launched LoneWolf gin and their new branded tonic.
I enjoyed it but felt the gin wasn’t quite as good as the last batch of prototypes. They seem to have dialled down the pine flavour which made it stand out from most others.
And the tonic was a bit sweet for me, although it isn’t the final recipe so hopefully it will be improved.
As part of their 10th anniversary celebrations BrewDog re-released the original recipe Punk IPA, their first ever beer.
Obviously it needed to be tried side by side with the current version. Original Punk was a bit before my time so I have nothing to compare it to but I was surprised by the lack of flavour in this. Apparently, it wasn’t dry hopped where as the new recipe is. All I can say is yay to dry hopping.
My second tasting session was with Cycle from Florida. I’d already been enjoying several of their beers at the AGM bar having first come across them at last years Copenhagen Beer Celebration.
The talk was conducted by Doug and Charlie who despite travelling for over 24 hours from Tampa were highly entertaining.
The beers were good too.
I’d just had a ‘Sharrow’ at their bar before the tasting session. It’s a very nice West Coast style DIPA, but perhaps not quite up there with the usual standard of beers at these tastings. Plus I’m not sure I approve of using beers that are on at the bars anyway.
Luckily the second more than made up for it. ‘Cream & Sugar Please’ was also on at the AGM bars, but this was a special version, ‘Hazelnut Cream & Sugar Please’.
The rich porter has much more flavour and body that you’d expect from a 5% beer. Many were convinced it’s actually imperial. The aroma is all hazelnut, while the flavour is a perfectly balanced combination of nuts, coffee and chocolate.
With the AGM presentation and tasting sessions out of the way it was time to get back to drinking my way around the bars.
Particularly the Wicked Weed one. Which despite being the most expensive – some beers were priced at £6.25 a third! – was easily the best.
Their beers included a funky bretted peach saison and a barrel aged cherry and almond sour. Just like in their tasting session they were all totally unique and exceptional standard.
Little did we know that just a few weeks after the AGM Wicked Weed would become the latest brewery to be shunned by the craft beer community after selling out to evil macro overlords ABInBev.
I wonder if that affected Richard’s decision to jump ship?
Top 10 Beers At BrewDog AGM 2017
After sampling over 30 beers at the AGM, here’s my Top 10…
- Wicked Weed – Silencio (7.4% – Bourbon Barrel-Aged Black Sour Ale with fermented Coffee and Vanilla!)
- Cycle – Imperial Stout W/ Coffee And Cocoa Nibs (11% – Thick, rich & super smooth imperial stout)
- BrewDog – Paradox Rye (15% – Another winner in this great series. Big, boozy, smoky, spicy.)
- Wicked Weed – Genesis (6.6% – Super funky tropical fruits. All the mango, guava and passionfruit.)
- BrewDog – Dog F (17.5%!! – Imp stout with big chilli kick and warming boozy background.)
- Wild Beer – Sourdough (3.6% – Bretted, oak barrel aged berlinerweisse. Made with 60 year old sourdough yeast.)
- Cycle – Hazelnut Cream & Sugar, Please (5% – Rich hazelnut coffee milk porter.)
- BrewDog – Born To Die 13.05.2017 (8.5% – Back to its best after ill-advised ABV increase.)
- BrewDog – Blitz Raspberry (3.2% – Sharp, tangy raspberry sour. One of the best of a great series.)
- Rhinegeist – Mosaic (5.6% – Fresh, clean mosaic pale.)
As ever at events like this the food is just as important to me as the beer.
The Scottish weather was feeling generous making the extended outdoor area a perfect place to hang out as well as grab a bite (or several) to eat.
I worked my way through many of the street food vendors. The highlight was ‘Barnacles & Bones’ with their enticing menu of fresh shellfish and interesting meat dishes.
There was a very long wait. But thankfully the ‘Crab Balls’ and ‘Crab & Sweetcorn Fritters’ were worth it.
Their crab with lemon mayo even more so. It was absolutely perfect weather for it.
It wasn’t really the perfect weather for a big pie with mash and gravy, but I can never resist a Pieminister.
Later, in the Boyd Orr room, I had some fantastic ‘Haggis Bon Bons’ and a brilliant ‘Scotch Egg’ from ‘Aye Love Real Food’.
Later still, back outside, I ate this. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know who it was from or if it was any good.
Perhaps this is why?
The tokens are non-refundable and I hate waste. So decided to finish with a selection of imperial stouts.
Perhaps not my most sensible idea.
Like previous years I didn’t see enough of the bands. In my defence the weather was so good this year I spent a lot of time outside. But really I’m just too easily distracted and far more interested in the food and beer.
Most of the bands seemed to be getting a decent crowd and atmosphere though as I passed through.
Overall it was another brilliant event. Good food, great beer and a fantastic party atmosphere. It’s very well organised too, a credit to the people involved. Everything ran amazingly smoothly given there were 7,000 equity punks there.
Whilst technically the AGM is a ‘business meeting’, it’s essentially a cross between a gig and a beer festival with good food thrown in. And that is my kind of event.
Same again next year?
Date of AGM: 08.04.2017Follow @BeerGeekBlog Follow @FoodGeekUK