Beavertown vs BrewDog in Shoreditch
If it wasn’t for the fact that BrewDog Shoreditch serves amazing beer it wouldn’t be a place I would seek out. It feels cramped when there are five people in there and it has the ambience of a student union. But when I saw that Beavertown was having a tap takeover I had no other choice than to get my snobbish ass down to hipsterville.
Beavertown has been brewing just short of a year and they’ve managed to secure themselves firmly as a one of the most competent and exciting breweries in London. They seem to be doing everything right. Their branding looks great, their distribution is spot on, and oh, their beer is an undisputable revelation. Their latest achievement is that they were invited to do a collaboration brew with the almighty BrewDog. To my knowledge they’re the first ever English brewery to do so. The result is a concoction called Catherine’s Pony, an imperial smoked porter. Last Thursday Beavertown had brought all their darling brews down to Shoreditch to celebrate the launch of their efforts, along with a special souped up version of their own smoked porter, the Smog Rocket. The task at hand was to taste both and shout loudly and clap to show which one you prefered.
You can’t really mention Beavertown without also mentioning Duke’s Brew & Que, a super trendy rib joint up in Haggerston, which also happens to be where the magic happens. The magic being the brewing, of course. According to the BrewDog website they were going to be serving brisket sliders to grease the drinking tracts and stave off hunger, but they failed to materialise until much later. The solution was to get a bag full of salt beef bagels to prepare ourselves for the alcohol about to happen. Rigged into one of the booths we were ready to start going through the beers.
First up, the Darth Vader’s Lightsaber. This was a new one and it was a great start, a black IPA that was both toasty and hoppy. “It’s basically just a mix of Gamma Ray and Smog Rocket”. These words came out of James Rylance’s mouth a bit later in the evening. James, along with head honcho Logan Plant, are responsible for the tastiness of the Beavertown brews. When he tells us that he used to work at The Kernel it all starts to make sense. I think the Darth Vader’s Lightsaber has a stupid name but it proves that a little bit of mixing goes a long way and should be encouraged. If they can do it with wine, why not with beer? Next up I went for the Gamma Ray, their American Pale Ale. I’ve had this a few times before but tonight it was on fire. They must have put crack in it. It was delicious. Their standard Black IPA, Black Betty, was also incredible and had a sexy texture to it.
Now let’s not forget that this was a competition to see which of the two smoked porters were the best. First I had the collaboration brew, Catherine’s Pony. Logan had been standing on the bar earlier talking about it but people were too loud for me to hear what he said about it. They fucking love standing on the bar at BrewDog, they make everyone do it, those crazy bar standing punks. He said something about a queen who liked ponies. Whatever the story was it tasted great, a fair bit of coffee and not too smokey. The only thing letting it down was the nosebleed flavour. It was quite metallic. Onto the next glass of black liquid, the Imperial Smog Rocket. This one was so smooth, like a funky 70s bassline, a bit of chocolate, a hint of smoke and very robust. It felt like it could keep me warm for the rest of winter. It was definitely my winner. But I wasn’t the only one voting, that was left to the whole god damned bar. The way it went down was that there was some more bar standing and then people clapped for the one they liked the most when it was announced. “There isn’t much competition between the breweries in London, everyone is really nice to each other”, James told us. Then he proceeded to shout his lungs out when the Imperial Smog Rocket was announced. It’s fair to say it won with a clear margin.
I can’t help feel that the odds were stacked in favour of Beavertown, since they made one of the contenders and helped make the other. However, when I asked the bearded Scotsman behind the bar which one he preferred he had to admit he favoured the Imperial Smog Rocket as well. All in all it was a victory for Beavertown, both for the smoked porter competition and for their efforts in providing the people of London with good old fashioned delicious beer. It was an amazing session and I wore my hangover with pride the next day.