Stella, Doom, Punk

A dog.

We had one of those moments this week that shines a light on the health of a brand: we saw BrewDog on the beer list at a new local cafe and thought, “Oh, it’s not really a beer place, then.”

It’s not as if we think Brew­Dog’s beer is bad. We spent a hap­py hour at its Bris­tol bar on Sun­day and prob­a­bly have a more pos­i­tive view of Punk IPA than many of our peers. (It ain’t wot it used to be, and so on.)

It’s a sign that Brew­Dog beers have become one of the go-to cash-and-car­ry prod­ucts along with Stel­la Artois and Doom Bar, which changes their sta­tus in the mar­ket­place. (Here’s Pete Brown on Stel­la.) It is no longer a treat, no longer wor­thy of an appre­cia­tive “Ooh!”.

You might say this start­ed years ago when they first turned up in super­mar­kets, or in Greene King and Wether­spoon pubs, and that’s prob­a­bly true.

And we’re not com­plain­ing, real­ly. After all this was the dream a decade ago – a sup­ply of strong, bit­ter, furi­ous­ly hop­py IPA on every street cor­ner.

It’s just inter­est­ing to us that where­as once the pres­ence of Brew­Dog on the menu indi­cat­ed a beer geek work­ing some­where behind the scenes, it now means no such thing.

12 thoughts on “Stella, Doom, Punk”

  1. True dat. But I was in a Brew­dog bar (the newest one in Edin­burgh) last week and had a half of punk IPA – ‘kegged on the 16th of June’ it pro­claimed at the bar – and it was a very dif­fer­ent beast to that you get swill­ing around the super­mar­ket shelves these days – in a very good way. In fact if I had­n’t known it was punk, I might have mis­tak­en it for anoth­er craft brew…

    1. I tend to view Punk IPA as I view Sam Adams in New Eng­land – as Beer Of Last Resort. Far prefer­able to what­ev­er the glob­al brew­eries are chuck­ing out, but con­sid­er­ably less inter­est­ing than any­thing else. Yet it is still a per­fect­ly nice beer (and a lot bet­ter than Sam Adams), but their mar­ket­ing antics and the ubiq­ui­tous avail­abil­i­ty of the prod­uct have made it a lot less inter­est­ing a prospect than it is as a beer.

      1. Sam Adams in the US is an inter­est­ing brand com­par­i­son. Maybe Sier­ra Neva­da is even more appro­pri­ate. Larg­er vari­ety of beers and more exper­i­men­tal prod­ucts but still avail­able every­where. But Brew­dog is becom­ing a bar com­pa­ny as well as a brew­er. It’s inter­est­ing to think how this will devel­op as they roll out so many bars and go inter­na­tion­al. The bars are almost a high-street tap room and are prob­a­bly intro­duc­ing a lot of non-beer geeks to the con­cept. It is part of the de-geek­i­fi­ca­tion of beer I think. Very inter­est­ing.

        1. Maybe Sier­ra Neva­da is more gen­er­al­ly a bet­ter brand com­par­i­son, but specif­i­cal­ly in New Eng­land, where I have done most of my US drink­ing, places that oth­er­wise only have some­thing dread­ful will have Sam Adams. Sier­ra Neva­da is clos­er on qual­i­ty to Punk IPA, and out­side New Eng­land is prob­a­bly the ubiq­ui­tous option. But I still remem­ber the first time I tried it – 1997, a TexMex restau­rant in Con­way, NH. It was mem­o­rable – not much like it back then. I can’t recall the first time I drank Punk IPA

      2. The heat’s just shot up here – from day­time temps of (say) 14–15 last week to 24–25 this – and I sus­pect some pubs have been caught out. At least, I was in a Spoons yes­ter­day where both[sic] the cask guests had gone right off – I returned one pint of flat­tish, tur­bid, luke-warm beer only to be sup­plied with a pint of a dif­fer­ent flat­tish, tur­bid, luke-warm beer, which was also sour. (I con­sid­ered ask­ing for the first one back – at least it would have been drink­able, with an effort – but it real­ly was­n’t right.) What did I go for instead? The Shindig­ger Pils on keg. And what did I go for when it turned out that Shindig­ger Pils was also off (it had­n’t gone off, the tap was just dis­pens­ing water)? Punk, of course. Which was fine.

        Beer of Last Resort, indeed!

  2. Is there a dif­fer­ence in the fact it’s being iden­ti­fied as Brew­dog and not Punk? When you’re pre­sent­ed with dire options on cask, it’s the Doom Bar you set­tle for, not the Sharp’s.

    Or, as your com­menter above, Sam Adams not Boston beer Co. Or, in Col­orado, Fat tire not New Bel­gium

    I dun­no. But, it’s an inter­est­ing dif­fer­ence.

  3. I recent­ly bought a cou­ple of bot­tles of Punk with six months left on the best before date that M&S were sell­ing for £1.50 and they were pret­ty poor; the hops had dimin­ished a lot and there was much sweet, bis­cu­ity malti­ness. Which is not nec­es­sar­i­ly bad of course but not what you want from Punk. I think Brewdog’s best before date is a year after bot­tling. Thus only halfway through its shelf life, the beer appeared to have dete­ri­o­rat­ed quite bad­ly.

    Maybe it was just a bad batch.

    Con­verse­ly, echo­ing what Iain says above, I had half a Punk in a Wether­spoon pub the oth­er day and thought it was pret­ty good.

    I’d had half a Weird Beard Mar­i­ana Trench in anoth­er pub direct­ly before, and pre­ferred the Punk.

    Punk is 5.4 in keg and 5.6 in bot­tle and can.

    Do the dif­fer­ences go beyond ABV?

    One pre­sumes not but…

    1. PS: obvi­ous­ly hop­py beers can lose their zip quite quick­ly but I was still expect­ing the six-month-old bot­tles to be bet­ter than they were. I was bank­ing on the hops hav­ing fad­ed, and hop­ing for a nice­ly round­ed flavour, but the bal­ance had slid too far towards the malt…

      1. Stor­age con­di­tions prob­a­bly don’t help…most M&S stores leave the beer out on the shelf so in warmish con­di­tions the hops will die pret­ty rapid­ly. 12 months is a long time for a best before on a hop­py beer at the best of times but in a warm super­mar­ket it’s bonkers.

        I find both Punk and Dead Pony very hit and miss, but I have had some bril­liant cans of both late­ly.

  4. I prob­a­bly drink Punk IPA more than any oth­er beer. Not because it’s my favourite, not even in my top 10 Brew­dog beers I’ve drank in the last year, but because of it’s avail­abil­i­ty (and also the fact I’m hand­ed one pret­ty much every­time I step into my part­ner’s par­ents house). I would­n’t say it’s a last resort but then again I would­n’t choose it if I went into a Brew­dog bar/any good craft beer bar (which is a shame because I do think it tastes a lot bet­ter when I have had it in Brew­dog bars, usu­al­ly when I get a free one on my birth­day)

  5. Punk IPA on easy­Jet is a god­send, per­fect way to ease into a drink­ing ses­sion before arriv­ing at des­ti­na­tion and fair­ly rea­son­able at £4.50 (yes I can buy it cheap­er on Brew­dog online with EFP dis­count but as plane beers go…)

    I can remem­ber first punk on cask I had, soton beer fes­ti­val in 2009/2010 and also a few years lat­er in the vol­un­teer arms in Dun­bar

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