The brewery was launched in October 2007 by two twenty-four old guys (Martin Dickie and James Watt) tired of industrial beers.  They define their business philosophy as being “about breaking rules, taking risks, upsetting trends, unsettling institutions but, first and foremost, great tasting beers.” 

Their sense of humour permeates through everything they do.  I would defy anyone to read the account of former President of Romania, Emil Constantinescu accusing Martin of not sleeping with an international icon without shooting beer out of their nose. 

Here is how they handled the correspondence regarding their potential breaches of the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks:

“PIPC considered Rip Tide to be in potential breach of Code rule 3.2b for the following reason:“The product is described as a “twisted merciless stout” associating its consumption with anti-social behaviour.”

PIPC considered Hop Rocker to be in potential breach of Code rule 3.2j for the following reason:

“Description of the product includes “nourishing foodstuff” and “magic is still there to be extracted from this drink” implying it could enhance mental or physical capabilities.”

PIPC considered Punk IPA to be in potential breach of Code rule 3.2b for the following reason:

“This product is described as an “aggressive beer” thus associating its consumption with anti-social behaviour.”  Apparently they are going to advise retailers not to stock the beers unless the labelling is changed.

My contention would be – does Jamie Oliver saying that a pepper is spicy encourage those who eat it to be hot-headed; does naming a dessert “death by chocolate” increase the murder rate in the UK; does a drink called Blue WKD encourage people to be wicked, or perhaps pornographic?

Or perhaps more simply does the Portman group’s letter to BrewDog not only show their massive failings and short-comings as an organisation by providing a telling little microcosm for a far more widespread epidemic in our society?  What is the new meaning of anti-social behaviour (which BrewDog is apparently encouraging) if it is not some new buzzword to replace crime by some lame criminologist with a PhD and zero real world experience?  In fact, anti-social behaviour is not coming out of your room for supper when all your friends and relatives have dropped by.  Our society is not going to get better by playing about with meanings.  Meaning lies deeper than the words used to convey it.

We are not going to cure criminals by applying softer terms for their criminal activity; we are not going to cure society by taking the words on labels completely out of context and punishing a small boutique producer when large producers sell beer cheaper than water.

If I wanted to encourage anti-social behaviour my labels would state:

Step 1: Drink bottle of Punk IPA

Step 2: Blow up a goose with a foot pump and use it as a Harmonica to play various Celine Dion hits.

Step 3: Hit any small children with a German sounding name (e.g. Andreas) over the head with a peppered sausage.”

During his recent adventures around the United Kingdom, Colin, the Handsome and Softly Spoken Scotsman and Malthouse proprietor, got in touch with James Watt, Head of Stuff at BrewDog.  It really does say that on his emails and business cards though in more formal documents he confesses to being the managing director. 

As a result, Malthouse has procured a quite large shipment of BrewDog beers, some of which have not previously been available in New Zealand.  They are available in bottles from August 1st (horses’ birthdays), but are not expected to last long.  There will be limited supplies of:

Trashy Blond (Pale Ale – “You know you shouldn’t”)
Punk IPA (an inherently contradictory post-modern classic Pale Ale)
Zeitgeist (Schwarzbier – they don’t just do ales you know)
Chaos Theory (India Pale Ale)
Hardcore (an imperial India Pale Ale hop bomb)
Devine Rebel (a Barley Wine with some whisky barrel aging – a Mikkeller collaboration)
Paradox Smokehead (whisky cask aged imperial Stout)
Paradox Springbank (another whisky cask aged imperial Stout)
Physics (a proper Amber Ale)

The Trashy Blonde (“a titillating, neurotic, peroxide punk of a pale ale”) is described as Kiwi on the website.  I’m hoping they mean the fruit rather than our womenfolk.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Hardcore.  How can I possibly resist something which is described “an extreme beer rollercoaster for freaks, gypsies and international chess superstars?”  I guess I had better brush up on my chess.

I also expect the Paradox beers, aged for 6 months in whisky casks and weighing in at 10%, to be hugely popular.  A “smooth, robust stout which has been completely infused with the Atlantic smoke, heavy peat, vanilla oak and balancing fruit and honey flavours of the powerful Smokehead whisky” sounds just about the perfect winter restorative.

BrewDog – Malthouse likes your beers and your attitude

Finally, thanks to a number * of alert readers who wrote into Malthouse HQ pointing out that the list of patron saints of brewing last week included Saint Luke and Saint Nicholas.  Saint Luke Nicholas? 

Sounds unlikely but it would be an epic canonisation party.

* One is a number.


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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