BrewDog Does Burns Night 2011, Part 1

“Beer tastings are sooo 2010” says BrewDog’s James Watt. He almost accuses the assembled diners at the White Horse pub in London’s Parsons Green. It’s Burns Night Supper BrewDog style. A seven-course variation on a traditional Burns Night – what else would you expect from Scottish brewers BrewDog.

Each course is paired with a different brew from BrewDog’s eclectic portfolio. Gavin did the Burns stuff, vivace, @BrewDogJames described the beers, and anecdotes from BrewDog’s short but eventful history. ensuring at the same time he will never work for Sky, but that Andy Gray might have a second career in Fraserburgh, It wasn’t your usual Burns Night; I’ve never before come away from a Burns supper with plums all over my shoes.

Come to think of it, I’ve never come away from ANY supper with plums all over my shoes.

This is not a beer tasting…
Having established that beer tastings are ancient millinery, despite not many of the guests having actually been to one, we are introduced to the Burns Night Menu accompanied by beers, with just one dram making an appearance. From the James’ introdction: BrewDog-History-in-a-nutshell intro from James, nobody can be surprised. Except, surprise appears to be their main weapon, to coin a sketch.

The food itself contains a few departures from the standard Burns fare, but not too much as to be gimmicky. Every accompanying beer is chosen for a flavour profile that will match the dish, and every dish tweaked to match the characteristics of the beer.

Here is the menu for the BrewDog Burns Night Supper.

We make our introductions to our table companions for the evening, and it turns out that Gavin Mackay, sitting diagonally opposite me is our resident Scot and will MC (or should that be Mc?). He starts by explaining why it is that so many people around the world – Scots and non-Scots alike, celebrate a poet who wrote in a dialect of English that must be incomprehensible to most.

… And these are not tasting notes
The first beer arrives at the table: Punk IPA, BrewDog’s flagship beer. James strides forward, prowls ominously glass in hand; it contains no beer. It is a glass filled with something dry. This is not a beer tasting, remember, and we don’t do normal tasting notes. No! he explains what the beer is meant to taste of (which turns out to be the contents in the glass).Could we detect it? He then proceeds to chuck handfuls of the stuff around the room.

Apparently, the Punk IPA we are having tonight is the new Punk IPA. I notice James reach for more ammunition. I swear I can taste mangoes, and begin to wish I’d brought my cycling helmet.

Haggis Spring Roll and Punk IPA
Clearing the bits of candied grain and hop from our cuffs, we settle again for Gavin to read the Selkirk Grace, and we are away with the first course: Haggis spring roll with a sweet chili dipping sauce. Possibly fusion food taken a step too far, but you have to admit it’s fun.

The new Punk IPA, is still heavily hopped, but this has bagfuls of the variety Nelson Sauvin, which smell of tropical fruits. Ideal to pair with lightly-spiced oriental food. The deep, citrus-y bitterness cuts through the fat of the spring roll, and the sweetness of the malt gets into a tussle with the heat and the sweet of the chili sauce.

A great start to our evening. As an aside, this new Punk on the block would be brilliant with Thai food, instead of the, frankly, very ordinary but ubiquitous Singha. I quite fancy fish and chips with it, too.

Scottish Salmon Sashimi with Hello, my name is Ingrid
By no means is this non-beer tasting populated with seasoned BrewDog aficionados – or for that matter beer geeks, male or female. There are plenty of women guests, this no longer surprises me. Even if beer is stereotypically a man’s drink of choice, when it comes to modern beers, women are often more adventurous. What is perhaps surprising, some of them appear even not to be put off by comments, cleverly attributed by James to his co-founder, that would make Andy Gray blush.

None of the guests, as far as I know, is called Ingrid, but the accompanying beer to the second course is. To give it its full title “Hello, my name is Ingrid”. A mere whim, you might think, and you’d only be partly right. This is a beer conceived in Sweden by the winner of a competition run by the most popular English-speaking beer blog in Scandinavia: BeerSweden.

The Swedish market is very important to this nascent but ambitious brewery. The Swedish craft beer market is a sophisticated one, and has taken to BrewDog in a big way. To reward that recognition, BrewDog set up a special brew; a brew designed for the Swedes: an IPA with a Swedish twist – a double IPA at 8.2%  flavoured with cloudberries (hjortron in Swedish). And this was its British premiere, if not a World premiere. Enough to get this enthusiast in a lather. The competition run by BeerSwweden was to name the beer.

Smoked salmon is more usual for a Burns Night Supper, but continuing with an oriental theme, we have Sottish salmon sashimi, pickled cucumbers and soy sauce. The beer is extremely flavourful, although I can’t quite get the typical cloudberry signature of slightly musty raspberries. It is very bitter though, as well as containing sweetness from the fruit, and is a pretty reasonable success with the fatty salmon and earthy saltiness of the soy.

A few actual cloudberries on the plate might have made the dish, but I appreciate, obscure berries from the forests of Northern Sweden might be hard to come by even in the foodie heaven that is Parsons Green.

Coming up in Part 2
Cullen Skink with Bitch Please
Mini Haggis, no neeps but some tats (fake)

And some Tactical Nuclear Penguin…

If you want to see the photos that accompany this post, and the remaining courses, as yet un-annotated, go to:
Maltjerry’s BrewDog Burns Night flickr site.

 

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