Punk In Drublic: BrewDog Glasgow, BrewDog Leeds
There’s a statue of the great Scot James Watt in Leeds city centre, but it’s the steam innovator rather than the award-winning young entrepreneur, controversialist and ex-fisherman who founded BrewDog with his schoolfriend and former Thornbridge head brewer Martin Dickie only a few years ago. However, last week James announced on Twitter that BrewDog will be making its mark in Leeds, having signed a lease on a new bar, with rumours placing it in a small venue near the Corn Exchange. [Update: More details here]
BrewDog are perpetually mired/revelling in controversy for a number of reasons, principally because they deliberately court it for column inches with a number of stunts and campaigns, which are undeniably effective. They have also made a few missteps, particularly in the customer service on their online shop (which has been acknowledged) and in the consistency of some of the canned and bottled Punk IPA which has recently made its way into supermarkets (which doesn’t yet appear to have been).
On balance, I maintain that BrewDog are A Good Thing. They are not the alpha and omega of the new UK beer scene, but they are, at the very least, a catalyst in the shift in both the industry and consumer expectation towards more interesting beer, with influences from American craft breweries. A great example of this is their new, keg-and-bottle-only bars, and in particular what we saw at BrewDog Glasgow on our honeymoon.
Over the course of two visits we:
- enjoyed sharing a big bottle of Bear Republic Racer 5 out of Teku glasses, considering that this was what all honeymooners should do;
- heard a folk singer play;
- spotted Martin and James;
- admired the relaxed but stylish décor and use of space, deciding that the wood panelling on the wall appeared to have been recycled from the floor of a sports hall;
- observed some Group On purchasers tasting beer with the knowledgeable, helpful staff;
- enjoyed a buzzy, busy but relaxed pub on both occasions, with a wide spectrum of customers;
- saw someone order “your standard lager” and not complain when presented with 77 Lager;
- had a conversation with the bar staff regarding what I was tweeting about and the identity of @GhostDrinker;
- drank Evil Twin Yin and Yang, deciding that it was indeed better than the sum of its parts;
- nibbled on some olives and ate a great pizza which soaked up the ABV nicely;
- relaxed after an amazing visit to Kelvingrove Museum across the road, probably one of the friendliest and most diverse museums I’d ever been to, containing everything from Dali paintings to giraffes to tribal masks to Spitfires;
- drank a few very good Brewdog beers, including Hops Kill Nazis; and
- found it very hard to drag ourselves away.
Even James Watt would find it hard to claim to be able to transport Kelvingrove Museum from the West End of Glasgow to West Yorkshire; but if BrewDog Leeds is even half as enjoyable as BrewDog Glasgow, I will be a very happy Loiner indeed.
I still don’t think James will get his statue in City Square, though.