Monday, 6 April 2009

BrewDog at The Bull

You’ll probably know that I like BrewDog beers. I have more of their beers in my collection than any other brewery (thinking about that I should probably get to drinking them …) and I’ve even done a little bit of writing and food pairing for their blog. Last week I finally got to try some of their beers out of the cask at The Bull in Horton Kirby.

The Bull, which I have written about many times before, holds a monthly brewery showcase where they have around 6 different casks from a chosen brewery. The last two have championed Thornbridge and Dark Star, the next two will be Pictish and Oakham (plus a Belgian beer fest over the Easter weekend) - this month it was BrewDog. I went up to the pub on the Thursday and the Friday; Thursday was with the chaps from Ale Affinity (Phil from beermerchants popped in too) and Friday I was there with Matt. (As a side note, I’ve had a look around some new apartments nearby with my girlfriend which would mean I was a 10 minute walk to The Bull!! Sweet!)

Throughout the whole of Thursday I was running the words ‘Pint of Punk’ through my head, desperately looking forward to saying them as if they were some kind of secret code word to some glorious prize (which they are!). When I arrived at the pub I strode to the bar, stood tall and proud and I said it: ‘Pint of Punk please!’ I was so excited and I know I had a huge smile on my face but for some reason the barmaid didn’t seem to ‘get’ my excitement and just stared back. I kept my smile up, held its position, but it started to fall and feel stretched, then it started to droop and fall flat. We shared an awkward moment until I pointed to the casks and had to repeat myself, ‘Punk’ please. ‘Oh, £3 thanks.’ She just didn’t get my excitement. When I returned on the Friday, after just regaling the story of the night before to Matt, I strutted straight up to the bar and she was there and I said it again, this time ordering one for me and one for Matt: ‘Two pints of Punk please’ (try saying that a few times quickly!). She didn’t get it then either. It was clearly wasted on her.

Right, onto the beer, that’s what we’re here for after all. Punk IPA was first and from the cask it is just brilliant. It was fresh and lively, with loads of tropical fruit in there, a sweet biscuity base and hops o’clock. Beautiful stuff. I could’ve had it all night (but would I rather have Punk or Jaipur?!).

Trashy Blonde came next and I thought it was floppy and dull, lacking in sweetness and hops and character, maybe it was a duff batch but I only had a half so I didn’t matter, and the two casks the pub had were the first to be polished off so others must have liked it. Then came Zeitgeist. It was the best looking of the beers, retaining its creamy head for ages (this is a lager, right?!). The hops were there being all fruity and Cascadey and the roasted malt was loaded with dark chocolate flavour – really sessionable and it reminded me a little of a muscular Dark Star’s Over the Moon.

Then Chaos Theory, their 7% IPA hopped with just the Nelson Sauvin, giving a glassful of dense tropical fruit and a great, tangy, spicy bitterness. A lot of people I spoke to thought this was the best beer of the lot, and it’s hard to disagree. It was a gorgeous drop, a real hop wallop comes at the end but it’s so easy drinking for its strength.

Onwards to the black stuff. I thought the RipTide was superb. For an 8% stout it has a slick and velvety body and drinks like a luscious and roasty-bitter hot chocolate, warming and gut-filling. Great stuff. What made it even better was that on the Friday we were given a free pint of it because a chap had ordered it for his wife who was driving him home and he hadn’t realised the strength until she’d taken a sip and checked! Result.

Paradox Isle of Arran came last. I think this is brilliant in the bottle so was intrigued to compare it. In the cask it had a lot more bourbon-style flavours and reminded me of a younger sibling to Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout (a comparison I’ve made before). It was a mouthful of chocolate, cherries and coconut. Yum. It was pretty sweet but I don’t mind that, the only trouble was that for a 10%er it’s so drinkable, dangerously so.

Divine Rebel was also there but - as far as I know - it’s still in the cellar waiting for a special occasion - a special occasion that I will be at no doubt! To be honest I wasn’t too sad about it not coming out this time around because that really would’ve left me pickled.

And it wasn’t just great beers… On the Thursday a buffet of chilli and curries with rice and a cheese board and bread appeared just in time to cut off the rapidly approaching silliness, softening the blow of the booze and allowing me an extra half of RipTide before the train home. Good times. I did feel bloody rough on Saturday though (and Friday – the first sips of my Pint of Punk eased me in) and that didn’t go until I opened a bottle of 10% double IPA and then I was happy (hoppy?) again. Until Sunday when the gym was a lot harder than usual!

To The Bull, thank you again, you rock. And BrewDog, you rock too. Please send more casks down south!


  1. Liam, is there a reason you don't take actual pictures of the pints you order?

  2. Yes, I'm busy drinking them!

    I took the pics as soon as I got there when it wasn't busy and I didn't look like a beer geek in front of too many people!

  3. The Bull looks like a great place and I love the idea of a brewery showcase. Now if I only I knew how to easily get there (sorry, I'm geographically illiterate) or if only it were closer!

  4. Hey Krista, it's easy really, just jump on a train from London Victoria and get off at Farningham Road, then it's about a 15 minute walk through some country lanes (a bit harrowing at night so take a torch!!). It's out of the city but it's well worth the trip.

  5. Jeff needs to do some brewery showcases at his pub.
    I was looking to head out but got caught up at work.

  6. Tim, every pub nees to do them!! They are a great way of being introduced to new breweries or to try a lot of beers from one that you already know.

    As Jeff's is a tied house would he have a decent selection of beweries to choose from?

  7. Brilliant showcase, great atmosphere and really impressed with the calibre of faces that made the effort to be there. The Chaos Theory WAS the best beer there! Barmaid Joyce is an institution - she's been there longer than the present owners and long before The Bull was a major player on the beer map. If you get a flat in HK, however, that will be the end of your liver!

    Can't envisage Stonchie doing a showcase - he wouldn't want to attract the 'wrong' kind of customer :-(

  8. Brad, you're right about the atmosphere, it was great both nights - isn't that always the way in places where the beer is really good? There's just something friendly about it, but then beer is for sharing with friends.

    Joyce is great :) It was funny how she just didn't get the same excitement that I was feeling! haha!

    My liver *wants* me to move there!! It's actively campaigning (along with my moobs and beer gut) to move nearby!

  9. Let your liver guide you to France, go on to wine permanently then you can and you won't end up old and fat with your ' beer gut'!
    Check out my area -- its really cool!

  10. Good to see you again... perhaps just once I can get to a fest and sit and chill, have a few beers, and fall over.

    See you at Planet Thanet?

  11. Good post with a nice review of the Brew Dog beers. They sound very good and you obviously had a great time trying all of them!

    I've got a line on the local distributor here in Atlanta so I hope to be able to try them very soon with a review to follow soon after.

  12. Liam, I'm off to see The Angels and A's tonight in Anaheim. Proper Real Keg will flow, as I usually mow through quite a bit of Firestone Double Barrel. Moseley starts for The Angels. He's got a lifetime ERA of 5.5, so he could get racked. Looks like the A's are starting a rookie.

  13. Ooh, a few replies to catch up on...

    Delphine, if I moved to France then I'd just get a wine gut instead, I wouldn't mind it though :)

    Phil, I'll be at Planet Thanet on Friday, looking forward to it, the beer list is pretty damn good!

    Mark, sounds like you have good access to beers where you are and if you can get BrewDog then you must! I know the brewery are trying to get their beers better received over there so let me know what you think if you grab a few!

    And Mr CEO, I just read the box scores. Where was Matt Holliday?! Great to see Giambi back at the A's. Have you read Moneyball? That's a great book. Oh, and how was the keg?

  14. Giambi had a couple of hits. One was a rope down the left field line. The Proper Real Keg was amazing. Firestone Double Barrel is a lovely beer. I'm going to try and clone it in the near future.

  15. I wish I could have gone to this! My out of town guests didn't want to go, which I'm not sure I'll ever forgive!

    Isn't it weird when you go to a pub and are excited about the beer, only to realize the staff don't even care or drink the stuff themselves? It's always a bit of a let down.