7

Brewdog, James Watt, Sent DDB His New Book for Review. It Goes Exactly as Expected.

In terms of craft beer advancement Brewdog has been largely regressive in scope and execution.  Their beers range from absurd publicity stunts, to faded transatlantic IPAs, to lackluster/overpriced stouts, none of which particularly resonate with furthering craft beer from product standpoint in any meaningful way.  Whenever FORBES or MENS HEALTH does some vapid, beta-tier list of “EXPENSIVE/POWERFUL” beers, I usually have to field questions about END OF HISTORY and grind my molars explaining away those showy cries for validation.  DDB is left to pick up the pieces and restore credibility for craft beer in the eyes of normal people.

I am not here to articulate a standpoint on their beers, today I am here to review James Watt’s new foray into literature: BUSINESS FOR PUNKS.

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What does this book do well?

The layout is attractive.  The writing is punchy and clear.  It provides real world anecdotes about Brewdog’s various successes in the UK marketplace. It never mires you in the details or minutia of craft beer and serves as an accessible rung to the Charlie Papazian meets Mark Cuban homebrewer with a community college comprehension of economics. It would make a fine gift for your “beer friend” that you once saw order a Skull Splitter during the company mixer.  You can whip through the book with ease and there is no bar to advancement for a novice reader interested in starting a brewery.  There are genuinely valuable stories from Watt’s successful career that may have some carryover to the current beer scene. It is never dull nor does it overstay its welcome.

What Makes this Book So Shitty?

The self-aggrandizing tone of the entire endeavor makes me wonder if James Watt tore his rotator cuff patting himself on the back throughout the expanse of the narrative.  You cannot proceed three lines without some braggadocio tirade about how he revolutionized a non-existent Scottish beer industry in 2007 when almost zero meaningful competition existed.  The advice can be regarded as dated and his circumstances may be seen as wholly unique to the target audience, namely, homebrewing fledgling cicerones who want to cash in and become the 5,000th local home brewery.

The book is littered with out of context quotes from seemingly random figures, all dubbed “PUNKS” of varying measures. KURT COBAIN, rock n roll PUNK, JOHN LOCKE, philosopher PUNK.  I love that a book wholly centered on selfish self promotion, predicated upon ruthless capitalism, is somehow anchored firmly within the PUNK IDEOLOGY.

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This book is more padded than the bra of an insecure 7th grader. There are non-stop paragraph breaks to toss in needless segmented, sometimes nonsensical aphorisms that could have come straight off of a NO FEAR t-shirt.

While it does deliver sound economic advice early on with regards to packaging, price tiers, and legitimate insight with regards to marketing, some of the other sections seem wildly anomalous in the current market landscape.  Watt advises brewers that NETWORKING IS FOR DIPSHITS and that you shouldn’t collaborate and other bewildering, highly questionable practices that are wholly iconoclastic in the current state of craft beer.

I appreciate logical structuring, and sure aesthetic is important, but pages upon pages are wasted with shit like this:

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If you are one of those types of people who own THE NAKED PINT or that kinda literature, you’ll be completely at ease with this offering.

This isn’t a bad book from a purely functional perspective and you wont be worse off having read it.  The real issue is how much applicable advice it carries for the current marketplace.  Chances are, if you read DDB you aren’t the target consumer anyway.  While it’s tough to burn this book to the foundation, there simply isn’t a wealth of solid information once the bitter fondant of TUCKER MAX meets PUNXCULTURE is wiped away. Further damning are the lengthy, meandering forays into potentially caustic advice regarding avoiding working with other breweries and supporting the community at large. Inherent selfishness at all costs seems to be the capital oeuvre herein.

Watt is wildly successful, so perhaps a single condodwelling shitlord making sweeping condemnations of his work hardly seems fair.  At the heart of it, Watt is at his best when he is adding obscure marzipan to an amber ale, or fermenting some gaudy shit at the bottom of a lake: authorship might reside out of the ambit of this brewer/sea captain/legal scholar (?) renaissance man.

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The delayed thesis is procedurally Hemingway, but Pynchonesque in ironic reader derision.  So I guess, well done?

4

Virginia Stoutwale Roundup: ABGBS, KXMASGBS, AB Resolute, COCO Resolute, ACRONYMsolute

The Virginia contingency has enjoyed the relative calm provided by Brothers and Hardywood.  Neither one of them dumped a barrel of type O negative into the water for the mulesharks to swarm over and, like Washington, Virginia seems to be silently drinking their own supply and enjoying some furtive world class beers. AND THEN COCONUT RESOLUTE CAME OUT. AND THEN THE MIDWEST/FLORIDA CONCH SHELL WAS BLOWN.

The second you dump secondary ingredients into a stout, thereby guaranteeing flavor confirmation, all shit breaks loose on the boards. So let’s take four of these recent wave makers and and whip up some global comparisons.  FOUR VIRGINIA STOUTS RANKED IN ORDER OF DANKNESS:

NUMBER FOUR: Apple Brandy Resolute

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Right out of the gates I was stoked for this one, a solid base stout, a SOCIETY ONLY BOTTLE, and the legendary apple brandy barrels that turn everything into pure stout raffle currency. Sadly, this didn’t really knock me off my perch.  At best I used my beak to hit the thin chocolate bell and look at myself in the brownie stained mirror.

We are making pet avian jokes now.

The real issue here was with the thinnnn mouthfeel.  It has a substantial abv and you’d except some residual malts to lay the foundation for those classy ass barrels to hoof it upon.  Sadly the apple brandy could have been any treatment given the fact that much of the treatment came across as muted and a sort of Nestle cocoa powder instead of sticky sweet caramel whipped milkshake. This is by no means bad but, certainly nothing to straddle a hitachi over either.

3) Apple Brandy GBSva1

Ok let me address something before everyone starts lactating cinnamon out of their sand dollar nips: the serving vessel did not kill this for me, in fact this is actually very tasty. The real issue is that the two beers following this were FUCKING AWESOME so this by contrast was like Central Waters BB Stout, you nod approvingly, enjoy the repartee, but never really sit and mull it over.  The frothy mouthfeel is great but there isn’t a substantial drag for the spices to cling to like static charged dryer sheets.

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Yes, you read that right, I am complaining about the LACK of spice interplay in a stout. I am truly being a bitch about the cinnamon.  It was subtle and arguably very deftly done because it never became distracting like that nightmarish churro tyrant: BA Abraxas.  This was a nice gingersnap cookie dipped into some chocolate milk.  You get the waft of holiday bliss but also a sort of sweet moon pie/residual lactose nicety that makes it very pleasant to drink. Everything I said in the foregoing conflicts with my usual stance on beers like this, so for them to overcome despite impossible odds, that’s some Bad News Bears type of stout. I am a fan.

NUMBER TWO:  Kentucky Christmas Morningva4

Alright, shit is getting real now.  This is the bourbon+coffee version of number three and holy fuck is this good.  The underpinnings of this is essentially a mocha PSL frap.  The frothy sweet milk stout coats with that massive Moloko milk bar panache.  The cinnamon serves as a bump/set to the fantastic coffee spike.  This is insanely drinkable and the long finish and clean body makes this never seem messy and it remains focused with every sip.

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I thought for sure this would be a complete mess for any number of reasons but I think the real takeaway from Hardywood is: RESTRAINT.  They execute things akin to Beachwood and Great Lakes, where the realization is that beers, like steaks, are almost always better underdone.  This never becomes one note, nor are the additions forgettable sidecars tacked on for some “limited release” alms cup rattling.  The best part of this beer is the carb/sweetness combo from the lactose.  A really solid beer, toe to tip.

Last but not least, this complete suntan lotion masterpiece:

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Coconut Resolute puts corona in the corner with a shot of fireball to think about the things that it has done.  If the underlying theme of this writeup has been balance and grace, this exhibits all of the foregoing expertly.  Unlike the already incredible Goose Island Prop 2013, this doesn’t elect to lean strictly upon its milky coconutty interior.  This is first and foremost a stout that can rest on its own merits and the nose and swallow are some banging backup dancers that bring massive waves of Almond Joy goodness.

The end result is a beer that brings the macaroon, sure the Mounds are tumescent and dripping, but remains an identifiable stout at the bottom of all those toasted flakes.  That is a remarkable achievement because it lends depth in a category replete with 13 person shares where some dumbfuck just wants to confirm “WORTH THE HYPE DEF TASTS LIKE COCONUT.” Obvious observation badge unlocked.

While this isn’t in the canon of say, top 10 stouts of ALL TIME, it can easily rival the best of the best for a low hanging slot. It is an exceptional treat that you would be remiss to not seek out.

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MFW that coco.