Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Aberdeen 2013

So a year had passed and it was time to use the same old excuse; that Tom & I had to check on our "investment" at the Brew Dog Equity for Punks AGM in Aberdeen.

Boarding our flight from Gatwick on the Friday it was clear there were a few others making the pilgrimage up to Aberdeen, what I discovered after landing was that that Sam from Signature Brew was also on the same flight and I'd walked straight past him! We hastily headed into town and to our hotel to drop off our bags, arranging to meet Sam and some other friends in the Brew Dog  bar, a short walk away.

The bar was rammed full of other EFPs and the kegs were rapidly changing that at times even the bar staff couldn't keep up! Punk Monk was a favourite all round, with a definitive Belgian yeast twang and familiar fruity hop blast of Punk. After several rounds we eventually decided to find some of Aberdeen's more traditional watering holes and stumbled into The Prince of Wales tucked on a side street off Union St. Serving 3 local cask ales and 3 from further a field, for me it was a no brainer to choose Fyne Ales Jarl 3.8%  and after a while I parted ways with the others in our group in search of sleep.

The following day after a hefty lie in we headed into town from breakfast and stumbled across Ma Cameron's (Aberdeen's oldest pub dating back 300 years), which was open early for the Lions v Australia test match. The pub its self is deceptive with a small snug at the entrance that leads on to warren of adjoining rooms including the main bar. I'd have liked to have sampled its delights in the evening but that wasn't to be, but a hearty brunch and lemonade sufficed and set me up for the day.

The AGM was again held at the Aberdeen Exhibition Centre a short bus ride out of town, but the layout was much changed from the inaugural year; with the welcome addition of several tables and a dedicated area with a stage for the conference and concerts. The two bars were well stocked with both Brew Dog and guest beers, from the likes of Mikkeller, To Ol, Brodies, Cromerty & Anchor. Looking for something light in abv was going to be hard, but first up was Mikkeller Schwarzbier 5.5% a delicious black lager with light roasted notes and smooth bitter finish.

Taking our seats as the AGM started, it felt like we were partaking in a Scientology meeting, such is the cult status that James Watt and Martin Dickie have created. They began by show casing some new promotional video's and discussing their upcoming US TV show "Brew Dogs". Keeping us interested though out were a number of beer tastings including  Fake Lager 4.7% & the first showcasing of WattDickie - their new Ice Distilled spirit at 35%. Based off Punk IPA and then frozen, this spirit really packs a punch of flavour, although I have to admit I really wasn't that keen. As the beers started to be passed around the crowd's, the atmosphere changed and Martin's talk regarding the equipment and process' at the new Ellon brewery didn't seem to get the attention it deserved. After all, the money from our shares had been used to build the brewery and expand their production. Quickly skipping through the slides you could tell he was a bit deject but clearly still passionate about the brewing side of his fledgling business. Next to be passed round was the end result of the EFP brew day held earlier in May. Electric India 7.2% a wonderful Saison with the addition of fresh orange peel, heather honey & crushed black pepper corns which gave a surprisingly fresh and fruity taste.The final beer was a MashTag 7.5% an American Brown Ale, Brew Dog's, "Social Media  Crafted" beer, where votes from Twitter & Facebook determined on everything from the style to the types of hops. This ended the proceedings with an odd tasting session of the beer,  in the form of a word association game with a few members of the audience. It was supposed to be about the flavour profile and aroma but ended up turning into two guys trading associated "your mum" insults!

With an empty glasses we headed to the bar first up was the interesting Brodies - Fruit of the Forest  3.7% a sour beer full of unsurprisingly fruit flavour with a lingering tart finish. The much changed layout meant we were able to find a table as base an mingle with other shareholders, as well as offering flat surface to devour the much improved food on offer. As the evening went on and we waited for the headlining band The Xcerts, I have to admit that I my Danish bias took over as I only seem to have drunk delights from Mikkeller and To Ol! Including:
  • Mikkeller - Citra IPA
  • To Ol - By Udder Means 
  • Mikkeller - Jackie Brown
  • Mikkeller - K:Relk
All the bands were awesome with rock 'n roll band MFC Chicken (Taking their name from a eatery of the same name) and Hawaiian flavoured beats from Kitty Daisy Lewis among my favorites. So by the time The Xcerts took to the stage at 10pm the crowd was dwindling and ever so slightly inebriated, But Murray and co played a storming set regardless and with that the 2nd EFP AGM was over.

The next day we'd arranged a trip up to Ellon, to take a look at the new brewery, having only seen the shell the year before. The 30 minute journey was much less nauseating than the previous years hungover trip to Fraserbrugh although not with out a few scares! The brewery was buzzing when we arrived and seeing the sea of stainless steal tanks and the infamous "Love Hops Live The Dream" was such a contrast to to the ramshackled brewery in Fraserbrugh.

We were taken on a informal tour of the brewery and then invited to try Brew Dog's latest in the Hello my name is range; Mette direct from the tank. This is a Norwegian inspired DIPA with added lingonberries and derives its name from Mette-Marit the Norwegian Crown Princess with a somewhat rebellious past. The beer was super chilled and not quite ready for packaging but it was an awesome experience to try a beer straight from the tank. We milled about the brewery for a while chatting to other punks and asking questions to the brewers on hand. It was good to see that as well as brewing Brew Dog beers, the brewers had their own homebrews on the go, including a great smelling Saison.

So that was another great weekend in Aberdeen and with a lot of new friends made. I'm still not sure if I'll go back next year, as for me the cult status has slightly begun to wear off. Although I'm sure I can be easily persuaded!

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