For all the intensity and seriousness of the brewing industry, there has always been the odd merry prankster. From David Bruce of English brewing fame, who once donned a goose costume to promote his beers, to Sam Calagione and his off-centered beers. While some may have decried these unusual promotions or beers, none can, in all seriousness, argue that they aren’t part of beer culture. Today’s beer world is an exciting adventure in spontaneity and innovation, discovering long-gone styles and techniques, developing new and unusual beers to boldly go where no brewer has gone before. I was thinking about this as I settled down to a beer made with maple syrup and bacon and served over ice cream, topped off with another bit of bacon. Martin Dickie and James Watt, the founders of the convention-smashing BrewDog, were visiting Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, NC, aiming to brew the most caloric beer possible, for a segment on their television show. Apparently Mexico had just replaced the United States as the most obese country. The Brew Dogs were doing their part to win the crown back. As I finished the very tasty beer, I couldn’t help but wonder about these two Scottish lads. This industry has made room for a lot innovation and excitement, but are they not over the top? Their customers have relished the adventuresome spirit of the new pioneers, egging them on to more imaginative undertakings. While purists (a category I would have included myself in) may be put off by BrewDog’s pranks, these guys also have gold-medal winning beers. And, let’s face it, while few beer documentaries or shows get through a single TV season, these guys are on their second. When you view any of their shows on the Esquire Network, you will find an insidious logic behind all of their capers. They are using their prankster fame to convert people to diverse beer styles. Take the segment at Fullsteam as proof. The show is about more than just the dogs. They profile their brewing partner, include many other area breweries and dig deep into the local food scene , offering paring suggestions. The “locavore” community gets a spotlight, with a charming section on a local maple syrup maker. Of course many of the great beer bars and bottle shops appear in a NC-Triangle roundup. Throughout the whole segment, the duo also drops insights into the world of beer culture. Even though we are amidst an IPA feeding frenzy, our customers are also asking for diversity, a whole lot of diversity. I’m glad there are guys going over the edge, generating excitement, entertainment and—gulp—not a bad beer.
Daniel Bradford is the publisher of All About Beer Magazine.