The State I Am In: BrewDog Nanny State
I’ve been a bit wary about opening this bottle of BrewDog Nanny State, which I’d bought in a slight rush from Utobeer as they were closing up one evening a few weeks ago.
Nanny State is described as an “Insanely Hopped Imperial Mild” and is a very low ABV “beer” that was first produced a couple of years ago in response to a controversy over the the 18.2% Tokyo. I’m not sure how good a beer brewed as satire is supposed to be, but I thought I’d give it a go.
This bottle was actually of a newer, even lower ABV batch: the original Nanny State was 1.1% and this one was half that, at 0.5%. This version is supposed to be an improvement on the original, after a rare admission of remorse from BrewDog for their prioritising of publicity over taste in the original.
Having not tasted the 1.1% version, this lower ABV Nanny State first surprised me with its smell. I didn’t expect the rich, very hoppy, unusually malty aroma that reminded me of one of those big malty American IPAs. I remember speaking to a barman in The Ginger Man in New York last year and he said that the thing he disliked about Punk IPA was a lack of maltiness which he expected in most hoppy US beers. He would have no complaints here, based on just the smell.
It poured a caramel colour and there was initially a light bitter hoppy sweetness in the taste. However the thing that probably can’t really be got around in a beer of such nominal ABV is the thinness. The lack of body made it seem very fizzy. A slight raspberry taste in the bitterness was quickly overcome with the unrelenting fizziness. After knocking the bubbles out a bit however I was left with a slightly alkaline aftertaste.
I see that Martin describes it as a “quinine bitter finish“. Maybe that’s fair, but it definitely started to bore after a while: smelling that pleasant rich hoppy malty fruitiness before each taste, whilst always being disappointed when it reached the tongue.
I had started out thinking that I wouldn’t mind having this beer when I was driving. I had Becks Blue recently, the 0.05% lager which seems to be this decade’s Kaliber or Tennents LA, available in Loch Fyne, The Living Room and similar decent midmarket working lunch restaurants. Nanny State is an improvement on Becks Blue, but it’s a real shame that the fantastic smell doesn’t carry through to a correspondingly nice mouthfeel or a lasting pleasant taste.
All in all, if I’m not able to drink properly for whatever reason, I’d rather have a smaller amount of a good session beer (like the fantastic Hawkshead Windermere Pale) than a lot of this. But all credit to BrewDog for trying and trying again, like another famous Scot.