For a lot of us, Brewdog Punk IPA is an important beer. Love them or hate them, in many ways Brewdog spearhead the good (craft?) beer movement in the UK and, as the brewery flagship, Punk is symbolic of the whole ethos behind the brewery. Punk is a statement of intent, and as a lover of good beer it’s something I feel a kinship for. When I put a bottle of Punk in my supermarket basket I feel like I’ve done more than buy beer; I’ve made a point, I’ve left the cheap, tasteless crap behind and I’ve paid a little more for a quality product, crafted by skilled people that care about flavour above all else.
Changing the Punk recipe would therefore be insane, right? A wise man once said: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But that’s exactly what Brewdog have done, determined that they can make it a better beer they’ve lowered the bitterness and alcohol and increased the dry hops in the recipe. They’ve made Punk better than it was, simple as that.
Taking that last bottle of original Punk out of the fridge, prising the cap off and pouring it into a glass, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a slight twang of sadness. The last time I’d ever drink Punk! Ever! Breaking open a bottle of the new version alongside it felt like the right way to see the old girl off; a passing of the baton, a changing of the guard.
Original Punk is filtered so, naturally, it pours a much brighter gold then the new comer. The aroma is actually quite reserved with currant skins, some white grape and elderberries. The malt is really there, bringing a toasty quality to the finish and the faintest hint of nuttiness or smoke. Then in floods that trademark bitterness, brutal and unforgiving. It’s a beer I know and love, perhaps lacking the impact it once had but still great.
New Punk is a completely different beer. The aroma is masses of satsuma, grapefruit and pine that follow through to the taste before giving in to a bitterness that feels perfectly in proportion. It’s dry and it’s light, perhaps a touch thin if being hypercritical, but it’s wonderfully refreshing. It feels like a move towards 5am Saint, it’s less aggressive than the original but it’s packed full of flavour and it’s effortlessly drinkable - exactly the type of beer I want to fill my fridge with.
Variation between batches has been a problem for Brewdog in the past, the Punk I drank here for example was far from the best I’ve had. I hope the same problem doesn’t hit the new recipe because, with it now being available in cans, it’s something I can see myself wanting to drink a lot of. I’ve tried the new version from a bottle, keg and cask; whilst all very different, they’ve all been great. It’s a brave move to change the product you built your company on, but I think it’s the right one.