BrewDog Tour – Our Special Look Inside The Scottish Brewery
In anticipation of a trip that we had booked to Scotland for a family reunion, I reached out to a few breweries prior to make the long journey. After a couple of dead-ends I finally made contact with someone who was interested in granting us a tour of BrewDog! Now, tours are actually not something BrewDog does, they aren’t set up for tours as of yet. So at this point I was pretty excited, but tried to stay reserved and I just keep the fact that this may not really happen in the back of my mind.
We arrived at the brewery and seen the familiar BrewDog symbol and walked into the reception area. The beer bottle chandelier above us was huge and a nice little touch that made us smile after a long day navigating the narrow Scottish roads and the many roundabouts along the way. After a short wait we met with the brewery manager Nikola Marjanovic. We had a short chat and discussed what I was looking for and whether I just wanted a technical tour or a traditional tour. I let him know we just wanted to talk beer and have a look at anything that we can and talk about anything that may be different or interesting.
Walking onto the brewery floor was very overwhelming. The size of the brewery was surprising since it was deceivingly small looking from the outside. The large stainless steel vessels towering over you to the amazing, colorful artwork that wraps around the walls and the dozens of wooden barrels that were being filled all were a feast for the senses; that’s not to mention that great smell of the wort.
We stood in on the brewery floor and discussed craft beer, the growth of craft beer and the industry in general. Those fantastic murals of strange creatures on the walls really give a great energy to, what would otherwise be, a somewhat bland industrial space. The artist happens to be a BrewDog employee, Fisher. He works at the flagship BrewDog bar in Aberdeen and we were fortunate to be able to talk with him and see even more of his art work at the bar.
As we were talking with Nikola at the brewery we were surprised by Martin Dickie as he came walking by us. Martin is co-founder of BrewDog and co-star of BrewDogs, a new TV show on EsquireTV network. He was nice enough to stop and chat for a minute and pose for a picture or two with us. At this point I should have had a bunch of questions to ask Martin, but I never expected to see him never mind talk to him. Regardless, he was very nice and we were happy to have had a chance to shake his hand and have a picture.
After Martin left, Nikola went to grab some beer for use to sample. We started off with their Punk IPA it’s a beer I have had a few times previously and the hoppy goodness was hard to resist. Next was a beer I had yet to try; Santa Paws, a great Christmas Scotch Ale – Malty goodness! Then we were able to sample a beer that hadn’t been released as of yet, Shipwrecker’s Circus which was a collaboration brew with Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewery. This barely wine was very tasty! The big rich flavors and aromas were so well balanced it was a pretty easy drinking even at 10.5% ABV. So at this point, we met Martin, got into the brewery and tried a beer that had not yet been released, can you say happy? Although happy would be an understatement, I really can’t describe how great this tour has been up to this point.
Now we were off for a walk around and discussed some of the equipment. Equipment like their top of the line bottling equipment that can be configured to fill bombers, not just the 12 oz. bottle they are selling now. Hopefully that means we will soon see some howlers hit the shelves. To the kegging system that has a pretty neat test keg that they throw in to check on how effective the cleaning system is working. Somewhere in here I finally got a look at the famous neon sign that is the motto of the brewery, “Love Hops and Live the Dream”. I have to say I got goose bumps at that moment, the whole vibe of the place is really amazing.
We saw the storage area that was full of plenty of packaging materials, kegs and hundreds of keykegs. The space that is now storage will soon be production space since the storage will all be moved to the new expansion that is under construction at the moment. Once the expansion is done the offices from the front of the building will also be moved into office space in the new space. The old office space will then be converted into a tasting center and the staging area for brewery tours! Look for this work to be done sometime in 2014. We then we went and checked out the mill, chewed some fantastic malted barley and then of course checked out the hops.
Nikola then showed us a small homebrew setup that they have right on the brewery floor. They encourage the employees to brew their own beer, the even have a competition. The employees will brew up a batch of beer, it will get bottled and shipped off to the BrewDog bars and the bartenders will vote on the winner. Then the winner’s beer will get made and sold at the bars; such a great way to get the employees involved and passionate about beer.
Next we walk up some stairs past the kettles and art work into the lab area. We continued to chat and Nikola offered up a few more samples. We were in this room full of control bottles from the different batches that are in circulation for quality control and had a fantastic view of the brewery from this point too. Now were able to try Pilsen Lager, We ♥ NY (EVILTWIN BREWING), some more PUNK IPA (who doesn’t want more?), Libertine Black Ale, Hello My Name Is Mette Merit and Electric India. I enjoyed every sample that we had, each was very unique and very tasty. If you haven’t yet had a beer from BrewDog, you are missing out! If you enjoy full flavor beer and aren’t intimidated by boldness you can’t help buy enjoy them all.
In closing I would like to send a big thank you to brewery manager Nikola Marjanovic for the great hospitality and fantastic time that we had touring the brewery and talking with him. It is truly an experience that I will never forget. We took lot of pictures and you can see more of those over at our Facebook page.