The following is a review from Travis Curran (@THSeamonsters), a writer, actor and semi-pro beer drinker in Portland, ME. Travis is one of the four titular “Tasty Dudes” of Tasty Dude Films, and the author of Travipedia.
Breaking tradition here, this beer did not come to me through mysterious and possibly law-bending circumstances. Instead, I came to it, or rather, I was drawn. The craft beer aisle of RSVP can be quite overwhelming, but this beauty was sitting right at the end. At first, it was the font on the label design, or perhaps the robin’s egg blue, that caught my attention. But then it was one solitary word that lifted it from the shelf and into my heart: “Punk.”
Four letters. One syllable. But so much more. Approximately six years of my life have been spent orbiting this holy concept of music, fashion and culture. The ghosts of arguments long gone but still unresolved echo down the halls of my high-school memories over what was “punk,” what was not, and what was the dreaded imitative poseur. I skirted the scene, studying this allegedly dead genre carefully. I’ll never forget the first time I skipped school to drive to Boston to watch Against Me! open for Anti-Flag, or the first time I put on headphones and listened to the entirety of the Dead Kennedys‘ Plastic Surgery Disasters / In God We Trust, Inc. split L.P. If my body is a temple there will forever be a rebel spirit within, kicking and punching, spray painting the walls and smashing an electric guitar. On that note, I’m sound designing this pint with Frankenchrist, a DK classic.
BrewDog‘s India Pale Ale is worthy of such an adjective. It pours a fine cloudy gold, with little to no head, which I personally don’t mind at all (you got a problem with that?). It reminded me of a calm gentle wheat ale, but how wrong I was. This “post modern pale ale” will inform you with the first sip exactly how Scottish it is. The hops are fierce and bitter, but not overpowering. You can still taste this beer, but only because they’re letting you. And don’t you dare call it “fruity.” The mouthfeel reminds me of my times spent with English bitters in London pubs, and I shed a single tear in yearning for the other side of the Atlantic. With an ABV of 6%, and such great drinkability, this could easily usurp Stone Ruination as my favorite IPA [but it’s still my fave! – editor J.C.]. Fuck that, it does. Sorry, Stone. You’re just not punk rock. You tried too hard.
These guys at BrewDog are doing it up right. Not too long ago last year they almost faced bankruptcy at the hands of the Man. A beer industry watchdog company in the UK, the Portman Group, reported complaints of “aggressive marketing” and almost had the small independent brewery’s stocks taken off store shelves. How aggressive is the marketing? Labels saying things like “twisted merciless stout” or “magic can still be extracted.” The Punk IPA’s description declares “We don’t care if you don’t like it,” and “Just go back to drinking your mass marketed, bland, cheaply-made, watered-down lager, and shut the door behind you.” I know, right? This beer is telling us how badass it is. Awesome.
Turns out the Portman Group is funded by the big name brands that BrewDog’s unique crafts impose a threat to. So they took it to court, and won, and even got Tesco to stock them in over 400 of their stores. I tip my tophat to you, BrewDog, with one fist in the air. Fight the power. If BrewDog is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.