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The Insanity Known As BrewDog

The Insanity Known As BrewDog

I am quite “embarrassed” to admit that, despite having my finger on the craft beer pulse, I only just learned about BrewDog in the Summer of 2009 — after moving to California.

How on Earth they never made it on my radar until recently completely boggles my mind. The insane master minds behind BrewDog, Martin and James, are epically entertaining. The boys have a ridiculously creative, dry and twisted British humor — which is showcased in their beer, their blog and their viral Internet videos.


Established in 2007, BrewDog boasts the title of Scotland’s 2nd largest brewery. But that is NOT what made them notorious in the craft beer industry. Martin and James are famous for brewing the world’s MOST RIDICULOUS beers.


According to the website, “BrewDog is about breaking rules, taking risks, upsetting trends, unsettling institutions but first and foremost, great tasting beers.”

And that is no overstatement. Martin and James haves completely turned the craft beer industry on its head.

This past Autumn, I had the rare opportunity to taste Nanny State — a 1.1% abv ale, which is below the legal classification of beer. Nanny State was BrewDog’s response to the controversy surrounding their Tokyo* beer — which at the time was Britain’s strongest beer (18% abv).


According to BrewDog, Nanny State contains more hops than any other beer they have brewed. There is over 60 kilos used in the 20HL batch. The boys boast that it has a theoretical IBU of 225.

My reaction to Nanny State? Take a shit ton of hop extract. Mix it with a tiny splash of soda water. And that is Nanny State. After tasting it, my tongue was completely numb for a good 15 minutes. It felt as if I had licked sap off the bark of a pine tree. No amount of water could get the resiny feeling off my tongue.


Only a few months after releasing one of the world’s lowest alcohol beers, BrewDog shocked the world with its release of Tactical Nuclear Penguin. At 32% abv.

How does one make a beer of 32% abv? Below is the entertaining video of how Martin and James were able to achieve such a venture:

Tactical Nuclear Penguin from BrewDog on Vimeo.

Just last week, during SF Beer Week, I had the opportunity to taste the infamous Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Friend and fellow beer blogger, Mark Dredge of Pencil & Spoon, was kind enough to smuggle a few bottles during his visit to San Francisco from England. For a painful fee of $60, I was able to score my own bottle for my collection. Mark was kind enough to open a bottle of it on spot.


My reaction? Take a wad of peet, some dirt, a bunch of liquid smoke and a bottle of vodka. Blend. Filter out the dirt. And there you have it. Tactical Nuclear Penguin.

But in all seriousness, the beer was actually not that bad. I happen to be a huge fan of scotch and TNP had many characteristics that reminded me of scotch.

BrewDog did not hold the title of the world’s strongest beer for very long. German brewery Schorschbrau became the new king with its Schorschbock 40% ABV beer. This did not sit well with BrewDog, who launched a counter attack with its 41% abv Quadruple IPA called Sink The Bismark. How they managed to reach that high a level of alcohol with a beer, is besides me. It is higher in alcohol that Vodka. That is just insane.


Although the tactics used to design the beer have not been released, BrewDog has released a very entertaining video about the “counter attack” to Schorschbrau. Check it out:

Sink the Bismarck! from BrewDog on Vimeo.

Looking forward to trying to get my hands on a bottle of this new insane beer. Hopefully, my feminine and Wenchie wiles can convince Martin and James to send my a bottle from across the pond!

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6 Responses to “The Insanity Known As BrewDog”

  • Ken Hunnemeder February 16th, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Great insight. I liked TNP as well because of my love for scotch. Most people in the room didn’t feel the same way. I’m very curious about that 1.1% beer.

  • Maggie Sudduth February 16th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    LOVE their videos! And very interactive on the Twitter. I’m actually more interested in trying Nanny State than I am TNP or STB. Crazy beers, great image and marketing, love these guys. Cheers!

  • Jerry Cheung February 17th, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Fun videos and great story. Those penguin suits are hilarious. I love that one scene where the dog’s in a suit too. I’m usually not a big fan of beers that go above 10% ABV because the alcohol overwhelms some of the other flavors. Once in a while, I’ll run into a good one that balances out well, so I’m definitely game to try TNP. You did a damn fine job of making it sound disgusting tasting so I’ll be wary.

  • Wenchie February 17th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Nanny State is exactly as I described it. Harsh amounts of hop extract + a dash of soda water … and there you have it. It ripped my palate apart.

  • Mikey February 18th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I grabbed one each of their Paradox beers and reading this and watching the videos is making me want to drink them all tonight!

  • Ashley Routson » SF BEER WEEK RECAP ROUND 1 February 18th, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    [...] the opportunity to meet fellow HopPress writer, Mark Dredge. Mark smuggled over some BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Tokyo* from across the pond. The HopPress/RateBeer crew was honored with a tasting of both [...]

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