Monday, 12 November 2012

Brewdog, Shoreditch: 17/20

Location: 51-55 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA


Visit: Several occasions, always early evening

To Note: Underdog to open soon…oh and don’t trust google maps to get you there!

Ambiance: 4/5
Design: 4/5
Drinks: 5/5
Staff: 4/5
Extra LBS star: Not this time, perhaps when the bar opens proper…

I had heard a lot about Aberdeen-shire based Brewdog before I first tried the beer – at a fine bar in Borough Market called The Rake (see here). My first experience was the classic “Punk IPA” and then I moved onto “Trashy Blonde”; I loved both but they are unusual beers, not for everyone and nothing wrong with that either.

Brewdog Imperial Nail
So I have watched the expansion of the Brewdog “pub” empire with interest from their arrival in England in military tanks to their share purchase scheme and two days ago I finally organised a meeting with friends at the new Shoreditch venue. We arrived at 4.30pm on a Saturday to find there were no free seats but plenty of standing space not obstructing the bar and 30 minutes in and we managed to bag a booth, made for 6 or 8 really friendly people. You need to be close anyway with all the old wall tiling and concrete everything (floor, ceiling, pillars) the sound has nowhere to be absorbed and a few hours in it was hard not to shout across the table.

You come here for the beer, our one non-beer drinker had a choice of two ciders. I wouldn’t even ask about wine. And what really makes this place great is the staff. I explained that I loved their Punk and Trashy, they suggested an Imperial Nail which looked like Guinness but tasted really fruity. I was offered a taste and when I ordered a pint was advised it came as a 2/3rd, because at 8% a pint is a little too much. Then I reverted to a lighter, fizzier (perhaps one for imported larger drinkers) Dead Pony IPA at just over 3% and the last one… a small glass of 14% Isle of Arran which, frankly, just tasted like Port. Very nice but the glass I had was more than enough.  It is a sign of London living that £4 a pint seems reasonable, but I have paid more than that for bad Stella in this city so have no issue at this price for excellent beer with knowledgeable staff and a really nice buzz. We also had a great time trying each other’s different beer choices, a conversation starter really from the name “tactical nuclear penguin” to the taste.

It is not accurate to say Brewdog is a “pub” despite their beer emphasis, it is kind of a bar/pub which serves innovative Japanese snacks to complement the drinks list. And in a short while their “Underdog” will be open too. The downstairs area has already been host to some live music and the new vintage of hops tasting but there is more to come, just follow here… @Brewdogshored. I look forward to many more beer sessions here though watch the percentages, you have been warned! 

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