The day really starts with James and Martin's business update at 1pm. The big news this year will definitely split opinion, and I'm not giving away any trade secrets here as this has already hit the papers. Up till now, apart from an initial bank loan, Brewdog have mainly funded their expansion through their Equity for Punks releases. These are shares, but have always felt like a crowfunding scheme, in so far as they earn you a discount in the bars and online shop as well as giving you access to the AGM. Well, now they have a big American investor in TSG, and a billion pound valuation they're definitely closer to their stated aim of floating on the stock market in 5 years. I don't know enough about this sort of stuff to do anything else but have an open mind, but I'd say it's time they stopped pretending not to be the biggest fish in the UK craft beer pond!
Apparently in finance terms this means the dog is now a unicorn - I'll let you look that one up!
Right, on to the important business of the beers 🍺 🍺🍺 a few more than that, but you get the idea....
The brewers getting all the attention this year were the three that had travelled over from America, but I thought I 'd start local with a beer from Fierce Beer. I'd say it takes a lot of bottle (pun intended) to start a brewery in the heart of Brewdog country, but they've just been named Scotland's best new brewery on ratebeer so they're definitely doing something right. They have some seriously 'out there' beers but the one I went for 'Moose Mousse' was an easy drinking chocolate stout, and when I say easy drinking think alcoholic chocolate milkshake - nice! Next up was our first tasting session of the day with Cycle Brewing from Florida.
This pair of absolute dudes had a pretty heroic journey from Florida to Aberdeen to bring us some really interesting beers. The first one we tried was a 6% IPA - not a style I really go for, but it was okay. The other one we got to taste was much more up my street - an 11% imperial stout, which was a challenge to check in on Untappd. Someone asked what it was called but apparently this is one of many of their beers that doesn't really have a name, or a recipe as such! They specialise in barrel aged beers and have a bit of an anything goes approach to their barrels. Vanilla barrels, maple syrup barrels - you name it, they'll age beer in it. This one actually wasn't barrel aged as it already had massive coffee and dark chocolate flavours thanks to the addition of cocoa nibs and a random selection of coffee they had lying around, apparently.
After the tasting session it was back to the main hall where we headed straight for the Cycle Brewing bar. I went with a 'Cream and Sugar, Please' a lovely creamy coffee porter - had to go outside to enjoy this one in the sun...
Next up I had a break from the dark beers and went with a fruit beer from Buxton Brewery,or sort of. It's from a range they brew for omnipollo from Stockholm that keeps popping up on twitter and untappd, thanks partly to this label art, but also because they're really interesting beers. I had the 'original lemon meringue ice cream pie' which was a really tart fruit sour but with just enough sweetness to bring it back from the brink.
Did I mention this might go on a bit? Next was our second tasting session of the day, with wicked weed from North Carolina. They specialise in sour beers and have a taproom dedicated to sour beer called the funkatorium, so what's not to love? The chap doing the talking has actually just moved to Brewdog where he'll be running their new sour beer plant. This is him with Martin Dickie:
The first beer we tried was called Genesis and was a refreshing tropical fruit sour. The other beer for tasting was a different proposition entirely, and a completely new style for me - a dark sour called Silencio. It had a real vanilla kick 'on the nose', like you'd expect from a vanilla milk stout, but then instead of a creamy finish you get a funky sour, which is, erm, fun? Incidentally, if you're a fan of label art check out their bottles.
After a longer than planned sour interlude I headed back to the porters with Luck by Rhinegeist from Cincinnati - the luck of the Irish presumably, and definitely better than 'that' Irish beer 😉
Sadly by this stage some of the beers we wanted to try from Buxton and Wicked Weed had sold out, but not to be deterred I moved on to a Superluminal from Buxton. Another collaboration, but this time with Stillwater, an American 'gypsy' brewer, ie like Mikkeller they don't actually have a physical brewery but use other breweries' kit. An interesting approach that seems to create more 'risk taking' beers. This one was a sour (yes, I know!) IPA and pretty well balanced. I should say my issue with IPAs, or certainly the American style championed by Brewdog, is that it feels like it's all about throwing as many hops as possible at a beer, which just doesn't do it for me.
Guess what? My last beer of the AGM was Sourdough by Wild Beer. It's kind of a Berliner Weisse, but at the sour end of the style, and at 3.6% was my lowest ABV beer of the day. The slightly bready flavour comes from the sourdough culture they use, and probably makes it a good 'starter' sour if you're not quite brave enough for the full mouth puckering sour beer experience!
Now for a brief foray into beer snacks before I go on to the music. We were spoilt for choice so had to make some difficult decisions about what to try and what to pass on. The food stalls that sadly didn't make the cut included The Mac Shac from Yorkshire, Longhorns, who we may well visit in Newcastle and the Buffalo Truck, who obviously sell fried chicken (!) but had sadly sold out by the time we got to them. I had a very good cheese and chutney toastie for lunch - no photographic evidence which shows how good it was! Mid afternoon and hubby went with a proper beer snack, a scotch egg, but I couldn't resist the black pudding sausage roll from the same stall:
Having said I wouldn't have a hotdog as they're always disappointing I did actually end up having a sausage on a finger roll, but it was a 'proper' sausage with some really nice toppings so no regrets!
Well done if you're still with me 🙌 We missed the first few bands, so apologies to The Bellybuttons, Superglu, Black Honey and Clean Cut Kid, but you know, beer. Actually, we did just catch the end of Black Honey's set and they seemed to be going down well. Oddly, I'd not heard of sundara karma but they popped up on Spotify on Friday night - not sure you'd call that karma exactly, but at least I'd heard a couple of their tracks. The lead singer looks like he could be in Hanson, but don't let that put you off, they're probably closer to Two Door Cinema Club (get me being down with the modern musical references 👌)
Next up, Brewdog favourites (they've brewed a beer together) from Glasgow Twin Atlantic who are at the heavier end of alt rock I'd say - not the best pic, but I'm fairly sure there was at least one leather jacket going on.
I don't know if it's just because I don't have much of an accent myself, but I really like vocalists who sing with a definite regional accent instead of that pretend American accent you get from a few otherwise decent British bands. I'm thinking more Biffy Clyro and the Futureheads than the Wurzels I should stress....
So finally the headline act, and bear in mind this was effectlively a free gig:
No, your eyes aren't deceiving you - that's the Stranglers. It does slightly beg the question how many original members can you replace before you become a tribute band? Only Fools and Horses reference here - you could almost say they're the musical equivalent of Trigger's Broom, and if you're hitting a blank here, it's on youtube! I actually found it a slightly odd experience, in that they're not a band I've ever particularily followed, but of course who doesn't know Golden Brown, Peaches, No More Heroes? I'm not sure this makes sense, but being in the same room as the Stranglers playing those songs felt a little bit like the first time I went to London and saw the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace - not quite an out of body experience but like, 'oh, that's the actual Stranglers off the radio/Buckingham Palace off the tv' - weird. Actually, reading this back, the above beer list might go some way to explaining that one!
I suppose I should leave one final note - a day of beer drinking has to be followed by a pretty decent breakfast, and this was mine from Rye and Soda