BrewDog Shepherds Bush – Open For Business
Those stopping in to investigate the new Shepherds Bush BrewDog, the latest London opening from the prolific Scottish brewery, might find themselves feeling a little disoriented. This BrewDog feels. . . different. What happened to the dim lighting? The neon blue shield, the slavering canine mascot, and well, all of the punk?
According to Dean Pugh, manager at the new outlet, “BrewDog has always been about big impact, and being bold and using heavy branding. This one is more laid-back – BrewDog’s grown up a little bit.”
Laid-back is right. At this latest venue the brewery seems to be back-pedalling on its stick-it-to-the-man iconoclastic approach in favour of courting a crowd of reasonably well-heeled, internationally minded drinkers. The draught list, which runs an impressive 40 deep, pours half BrewDog’s own and half suds from breweries in London, elsewhere in the UK, and overseas. Its bottle list is just as diverse, and contains some real gems – we spotted the likes of Walker’s Reserve Porter from Firestone Walker and 10 Commandments from Lost Abbey on our visit.
There’s no question that the space will look unusual to one familiar with the raucous and perpetually rammed Camden and Shoreditch BrewDog operations. Shepherds Bush could almost be described as BrewDog à la Brooklyn. The high-ceilinged, expansive bar is lit up by rows of on-trend Edison bulbs, which drape from an armature of exposed air ducts. BrewDog’s mascot is evoked only in a graffiti-like mural on a far wall, and the bar is illuminated by backlit, cinema-style menus (guest draught beers aren’t listed yet because ‘we ran out of letters’). There’s even a handful of retro arcade machines in the back, though whether or not this is a deliberate nod to the Brooklyn-born Barcade concept is unclear.
Though it may not ever get as wild as its London siblings, this BrewDog is worth a visit. For one, it’s a harbinger of hope in the beleaguered West End, which has long been populated primarily by posh restaurants and forgettable pubs that class Blue Moon as craft beer.
It’s also exceptionally easy to while away the hours here. A long-term pop-up menu courtesy of Texas Joe’s, which was first rolled out in Shoreditch, is on offer so punters can happily snack on barbecue staples like macaroni & cheese and chopped pork sandwiches. The tap list is predictably packed with special offerings as well. We sampled the Hello My Name Is Sonja, brewed in tandem with Evil Twin’s Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and named after his mum; the Double IPA is redolent of Danish blueberries. Also enjoyed were two offerings from the Unleash the Yeast! single yeast series (Bavarian and Trappist this time around). And Dog B (called Dog A and AB:04 in previous incarnations), a 15.1% Imperial Stout kicked up with cacao, coffee, and naga chili, was a total knockout.
While BrewDog’s trek towards total global domination continues unabated (Pugh highlights their plans to open a number of other branches across the UK, their upcoming launches in Stockholm and Sao Paulo, and the fact that they are “seriously looking into the States”), the arrival of a new, west London BrewDog is for now a sign of good. Just don’t come expecting old-school punk.
Photos by Leah Riley