Tuesday 5 April 2011

Avery Brown Dredge: The Video Blog

I might not have mentioned this, but earlier this year I made a beer at BrewDog along with Zak Avery and Pete Brown...

We could’ve brewed anything we wanted; the only limitation was nothing spontaneously fermented (though Stewart Bowman, the Head Brewer, would tell us that he’d like to play around with wild yeast in the future). I was interest in brewing an imperial lager (“dry-hopped to oblivion,” my email says), a butch oatmeal stout (perhaps with coffee and maple syrup because that’s a beer I’ve been obsessed with and wanted to brew for years) or a saison with lots of US hops, all of which I thought would work well in the BrewDog range as well as being beers I really like. The others made their suggestions, including another strong lager-style and we politely emailed our way to the happy ending we settled upon.

An Imperious Pilsner it what we brewed – it was designed to be like that lager your mate drinks, just bigger. We decided on 100% Saaz hops while we were at the brewery – before that we were swaying between a variety of different hops and different additions. It was to be 7-8%, as pale as possible, as unfiltered as possible (if we could), and an amplified showcase of noble hops.

Tradition. Homage. Revolution. That’s how the bottle label begins and that’s the inspiration. It’s about the long lager traditions, about using the same ingredients, having a period of lagering, and tipping our glasses to the lagers that we love. It’s also an homage to beers like Monsieur Rock, My Antonia and Tilted Smile; lagers but different. And revolution because this isn’t just a normal lager and we made it at BrewDog who aren’t just a normal brewery. The label, which is Carlsberg green, encapsulates the whole idea.

And we did actually get stuck in with the brewery instead of just standing around scribbling in our notebooks. Lugging 53 sacks of malt and mashing it in was hard work, shovelling it out of the copper mash tun was even harder work (or so it looked – Zak had that job), and I was the lucky one who got to stand above the boiling kettle and continuously throw handfuls of hops into it.

After two months, including the lagering and dry-hopping, it’s ready and tasting great; it’s exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s subtle in its punch, it’s an exploration of the Saaz hop, it’s a simple beer expanded. The body is golden and the head is full and fluffy, so it looks great. The aroma is slightly sweet, a little breeze of yeast, then into floral and orange pith, peaches and apricot, a distant herb garden, all subtle. The body is smooth, the bitterness is dry and crisp, botanical like gin but with bursts of distant fruit, like little surprises to keep you interested. It’s like a lager but different; all the qualities are there, it’s just amplified and bigger, meaning it stretches in different directions.

The beer is currently on sale on the BrewDog website for anyone who wants to try it – I suggest you drink it young to get the burst of Saaz freshness, though I’ll be keeping one or two back to see what happens in a few months. The beer isn’t cheap but then we used a ridiculous amount of malt and hops, plus took up two months worth of ultra-valuable tank space at the brewery.

Avery Brown Dredge is finally here. If you’ve had the beer then what did you think?  


  1. so annoyed I didnt make it down to North Bar for the launch, had to work late, of all things!

    Will be picking up a bottle this week.

    p.s. what kinda of a pour was that! Glugg glugg glugging all over the shop ;)

  2. Does sound like a tasty brew and one I hope to try soon. Its very close to a batch of home brew I made last year, except I added a good dose of Munich malt as well, but if I had an idea to brew an imperial lager...I suppose a thousand other people did as well. I may wait to see if Mr Avery sells it through Beer-Ritz first before ordering it from Brew Dog, just so I can order lots of beer in one go :)

  3. Really enjoyed it. A couple of questions though:

    How long was the boil? 60 minutes, or is that just how long hops were added for? It was a lot darker than I'd expect for just lager malt and wheat - wondering if any colour came from a lengthy boil.

    Do Bredog treat their water at all? The brewing sheet looks blank for treatment.

  4. Great post mate, obviously biased and so you should be, it was a cracking opportunity that any beer lover would chew their right arm off for.

    The beer sounds fabulous, hope I manage to get hold of a bottle if you haven't bought them all to stash away..?


  5. I've got a couple of bottles of this in the beer pantry. I was going to let them settle, but you may just have talked me into letting them jump the queue:)

  6. Neil - it's a lager and I like a good rocky head on my beer :)

    Matthew - I'm pretty sure he'll be getting some in!

    Mark - I may have helped brew the beer but I'm not a brewer!! I think the boil was 75 minutes but I'm not 100%. I also recognise 60 minutes from somewhere... The malt, I think, was pale and not lager, which is probably where the colour comes? And yes, I think the water is treated.

    beersay - cheers!

    Tyson - It's a lager so it doesn't need to settle, get it drunk!

  7. Dominic, Thornbridge Brewery5 April 2011 at 19:06

    Looks good, but why would you mash in 53 sacks of malt in the copper? Are Brewdog that crazy?

  8. Dom - Correction made! However, they are crazy, of course.

  9. Just had some in the Edinburgh Brewdog .. Simply outstanding, reminded me of the Pilsners I drank living Bavaria... Thought the experience was slightly dented when I heard the girl behind the bar describe it to someone else as like "Stella but stronger". But ABD was a fantastic beer