When we first caught wind of Brewdog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a 32-percent alcohol stout that they froze in ice cream vats, we tried to order it online. No luck. The brewery had already sold out of the first batch.
So we kept trying. We wrote publicists. We tried to make friends with people who had squirreled away bottles of the stuff. Rebuffed.
A couple of months ago one of us convinced the Los Angeles Times to buy an article we’d write about Brewdog’s high-octane brewing experiments and what it says about the beer market’s growing, if still niche, obsession with beers as strong as liquor. The piece ran today. In it we survey brewery and bar experts like Stone’s Greg Koch on why extreme beer is an important, and increasingly sexy, part of the beer industry.
Being the magna cum laude graduates of the Gonzo School of Reporting that we are, we would never ever ever think of publishing a work of beer journalism about beers we hadn’t actually imbibed! So we dutifully cleared our calendar one Saturday in March when Brewdog’s CEO James Watt was making an appearance in West Hollywood for a rare tasting of the strongest beer in the world – Brewdog’s Sink the Bismark and Tactical Nuclear Penguin.
Hot Knives showed up at the Surly Goat early and tried a couple of the “weaker” Brewdog beers. The 5AM Saint was our favorite: a kilt-lifting, red-bearded nectar that could easily be consumed at 5AM after a night of heavier drinking. The Punk IPA was alright, but the 18-percent Tokio was totally evil. A good taste of things to come.
An hour later, the Scottish brewers showed up to a bar packed with geeks waiting for them. Watt gave a 10-minute spiel about the beers and then had everyone squeeze into two single file lines to gulp a couple sips of the killer Kool-Aid. What did it taste like, you ask?
Click the video above for our “tasting notes.”
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