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Are You Tasting the Pith? - 13th December 2009

A Year of Beer 2009 #25 - BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin

Another part of our (hopefully) year-long video project, A Year of Beer. looking at the idea of beer and seasonality - how different styles of beer are more appropriate to different seasons, weathers, festivals and so on. There will also be a bit of beer and food matching thrown in because, hell, we love to eat as much as we love to drink.

This week: BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin

If you'd like to subscribe to my video blog, and be informed when something new is uploaded, then please click here and sign up via the yellow "Subscribe" button. Go on, it'll be fun.

And if you'd like to leave a comment, you can do so by visiting my Youtube pages - just click on the video below to go there.

BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin: Part One

BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin: Part Two

BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin

Look, what do you expect? You want me to be rational about something as seductive and exciting as a multiple freeze-distilled Islay-cask-aged imperial stout? Guess again.

When BrewDog revealed that they were the ones who made the complaint about Tokyo*, I'd had enough. Before that marketing ploy backfired, I'd gone into print defending the notion of strong beers generically, and of Tokyo* specifically. I was pissed off about having been duped, and like many bloggers, complained vocally about it.

Mentally, I'd decided to keep BrewDog at arm's length from a website point of view, even though in private I was still drinking their beers. I've vlogged quite a few of their beers, and they'd betrayed my trust. I like to buy into an ethos when I drink a beer, and I'd got bored with BrewDog's schtick.

But the simple fact is that BrewDog are one of the most exciting breweries to appear in Britain in the last few years, even if their desire for publicity (at seemingly any cost) sticks in the throat a bit. As a retailer of specialist beers, the interest in Tactical Nuclear Penguin, even at 35 for a 33cl bottle, has been surprising.

I'll be honest and let you know that they gave me a bottle (hey, transparency is king), and I knew that I didn't want to drink the whole thing myself - it's about 11 units of alcohol, about the same as a bottle of strong red wine. It seemed sensible, and in the spirit of sharing, caring and spreading the word about great beer, to take the Penguin into the public domain. I got as many Leeds-based bloggers and beer people together at the legendary North Bar for a tasting. You can see the result for yourself.

And what is the world's strongest beer (at the time of writing) like? It's great. It's big, powerful and spirity, in more ways than the alcohol content. It's a liqueur schnapps with the ghost of Islay whisky and imperial stout wafting through it. It's a confusing experience, simultaneously familiar and new. It's a whisky and a beer and a liqueur all rolled into one. Could I drink a whole bottle? No. Will I buy a bottle for 35? Maybe. Am I glad I tried it? Hell yes.

Do I believe the hype? Absolutely.

POSTSCRIPT: I gave a glass of TNP to a North Bar and Beer-Ritz regular, without rolling the camera, which was a mistake, as he gave the best tasting note of the day: "It tastes like someone has taken all the liquorice in the world and left it at the bottom of a coal mine for a thousand years". Michael C., you're a genius.


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