Monday 14 September 2009

As-Live Tasting: BrewDog's Punk Monk

7.47pm: Hello all. It’s Sunday 13th September. The beer is poured. I’m sitting comfortably, staring at the super minimal label that is BrewDog’s Punk Monk - Punk IPA brewed with Belgian yeast.

7.49pm: It looks like Punk, that familiar gold. And it smells like Punk too, fruity with lycees and strawberries and caramel, but then beneath that there’s a little something extra, something cheeky and naughty, a little estery sweetness, banana, pineapple and passion fruit. It smells goooood.

7.50pm: And it tastes goooood too. Yup, I like this. It’s Punk, it’s still fruity and bitter but it has that cool Belgian twist at the end. What’s strange is that it’s very similar to the standard Punk – and I drink a lot of it, in fact I can’t remember a time in the last nine months when Punk hasn’t been in the fridge – but it just goes a little sideways, kind of like kissing your other half and they throw in a nibble of the bottom lip to surprise you.

7.52pm: Talking of surprises, has anyone noticed that BrewDog’s Punk recipe has changed? The original hop line-up was Chinook, Crystal and Motoeka but now it uses Chinook, Ahtanum and Nelson Sauvin. I don’t think I’ve noticed a change in taste so it’s been a smooth transition, I guess.

7.56pm: There isn’t an ABV listed on the label, so I guess it’s 6% still, although it doesn’t taste it… And while we’re on ABV, have you read about BrewDog’s newest beer, Nanny State? Their ‘response’ to the Tokyo* hysteria is to brew a 1.1%ABV beer (savvy and inevitable, really). I like this idea a lot, at least I did until I read that it has a projected IBU of 225, using 60kg of hops in a 20hl brew. To me this sounds mental. How to Disappear Completely is a brilliantly brutal beer but it’s really at the limit of drinkability for me, and it’s made drinkable by the astonishing body that the beer has. A 1.1% beer with that many hops is surely going to be like drinking over-stewed, killer hop tea? I appreciate how they are sticking to their esoteric guns and playing up to the braying crowd, but if BrewDog were to have brewed a 2% beer, pale and a little hoppy (a baby version of Punk, say), then I would’ve stood up and applauded and been first in line to drink a few pints of what could be an important step in low-ABV British brewing. Instead I’m left a little uncomfortable with the fact that this is going to be an all-out attack (on ‘the man’ and on the palate) using their full arsenal of hop grenades. Still, I shall wait until I try the beer…

8.04pm: Back to this fantabulous Punk Monk. I really am enjoying it. The bottle compares favourably with the cask stuff I drank in The Bull (now officially the best pub in Kent!) a few weeks ago, and if I ever see it on cask again then I will dive straight for it. Now I’m just waiting for a Wild Punk seeded with wild yeast and a Baby Punk (see previous comment). The beer is going down like a voracious fluffer and I want more. I have another bottle but it isn’t chilled. There’s something about the Belgian yeast and the fruity hops which makes for a really great beer, all gooseberries and pineapple and berries. In fact, I’m tempted to open a normal Punk now to compare…

8.12pm: I couldn’t resist: a bottle of Punk is now in front of me. A side-by-side was the only logical way of doing this, I guess. The Punk has a little less fruitiness in the aroma, but the lycee, strawberry, passion fruit and caramel are still there. Tasting it I can pick out the similarities but the differences are there too: more biscuity malt and a more potently dry bitter finish in the Punk compared to the Monk, and a greater range of flavour in the Monk, different fruits, more depth. Punk IPA is such a familiar taste to me that I could recognise it in seconds yet I’m drawn towards the Monk right now and I want more of it. I really do.

8.17pm: Right, that’ll do. I’m off to finish this Punk Off and read some blogs and talk some shit on twitter. If, and when, Punk Monk is for sale on the BrewDog website then I urge you to buy it. It’s really very good.


  1. sounds good, almost makes me wish i had bought 20 bottles from sainsbury now!!

  2. Mark - You say that they have changed the hop line up, but that there is no discernable difference in taste. I was just wondering if you had any theories on why they would do this? Is it merely a cost thing, or is there more to it?

  3. Another rip off of the innovative West Coast spirit! Stone's done this with Cali-Belgique.

  4. I agree that 'Nanny state' sounds a bit rubbish, but I think making it that weak is part of how their making their point: at less than 1.2% ABV it won't be charged alcoholic duty.

  5. Moggy, totally worth buying 20 bottles for!

    Stu, there's a few videos on the youtube channel that I haven't linked in here yet. I will do more!

    Undergoon, I would say it's a taste and availability thing. Recipes get changed. That pdf is probably an early thing whereas the webpage is more recent. Nelsons seem to be a BrewDog favourite and they are great hops. As for cost, I couldn't tell you...

    Wurst, a rip-off, a copy, inspired by, whatever, it tastes good!

    Ed, avoiding alcohol duty is a good point and something I forgot to mention. It's a clever move in many ways, but I still would've liked it to be sensibly hopped!

  6. I'm not sure how you'd sensibly hop a 1.1% ABV 'beer'! I can see Brewdog have a point they want to make but I can't see myself wanting to drink it.

  7. I'm not sure if BrewDog filter amd pasteurise their beer but at 1.1% the more hops in it, the less chance it has of going off.

  8. there is a rough filter and of the beer and absolutley no pasturisation, that would be horrific to the taste and there is a few more different types of hops in the now including i think simcoe, I think this is an availability issue rather than cost, the crops of hops can change dramatically so changing recipes is quite normal :P

  9. Ed, I want to drink it still...

    Saruman, cheers :)

    the_tender, interesting comment, cheers. Hop crops obviously are important, like you say. The good thing is that they are able to get Punk to taste great all year round whatever hops are used.