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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Brewdog Blitz!


If you want to learn about beer, you’d do much worse than to start homebrewing. What better way to understand the ingredients and processes integral to beer, than to get hands-on with them? I’m always reminded of this when I drink beers like Brewdog’s Blitz!. Beers of super-low strength that aim to deliver the same flavour hit as their heavyweight rivals.

Attempting to brew one of my own made me appreciate just how difficult it is. 5 IBUs either side of target and you’ve missed by 25 percent, a final gravity that’s 5 points too low and you’ve screwed up your ABV and dried out your beer. It’s a balancing act where everything sits on a knife edge, the slightest mistake will stand out like a sore thumb and there’s nowhere to hide.

Step up Brewdog Blitz!, a modest 2.8 percenter that’s clearly inspired by recent legislative change to halve duty on beer brewed between 1.2 and 2.8 percent ABV. Described as a West Coast hop bomb, it’s brewed with a grist of only caramalt and is probably best described as a US amber ale.

There’s lots of caramelly, malty, sticky toffee aroma that follows through into the taste. I’m thinking sweets with too much sugar in them, Flumps and candy floss. Sitting atop that is a load of American hops. Not in a traditional citrus and pine West Coast IPA sort of a way though; more a reserved, jammy, tutti frutti ice cream, candied peel sort of a way. The body is thin and watery, but whatever, what were you expecting for 2.8 percent!?

5am Saint Junior.

Consider me a fan. This is the beer that Nanny State should’ve been. Beers of this strength might not deliver the depth of flavour and character of those that are stronger, but what they do offer is a decent alternative for those that want something weak but worthwhile.

I tried Blitz! when the Camden bar opened and I loved it. Here, in the bottle, it’s great too. This should be on at all times in Brewdog bars, I would drink a lot of it and I can see other people doing the same. Top marks.

9 comments:

dredpenguin said...

I agree it is a great beer.

As a homebrewer there are things I want to know:

Did they just steep the crystal malt or did they throw in some enzymes and mash it?

Did they kill off the fermentation early or let it ferment out?

What are the 12 hops that are supposedly in there...or was it 12 hop additions?

Are you planning on brewing one Mark? I may be tempted to try.

Mark said...

Good questions. My understanding is that caramalt is already converted, so you don't technically need to mash it. To that end, you could just steep it to extract sugar and wouldn't need any enzymes. What's your thinking with attempting to mash it? I can't think of any advantages.

Good point about halting fermentation. The caramalt will be leaving some residual sweetness I guess, but halting would allow you to more closely control that. That being said, wouldn't you be in danger of leaving a load of stuff behind that the yeast would usually clean up? That would be my worry.

Hop-wise, I'm not sure. Haven't been able to find much info. My quess would be a similar hop grist to 5am Saint, maybe with less (or none) NZ hops.

Don't think I'll be attempting a beer like this again for a while. Not sure if you spotted the link in my post, but I did try once.

Scyrene said...

I totally agree - I never really got what malt and hops smell and taste like until I bought the raw ingredients and started brewing myself.

As far as low-strength beers are concerned... I appreciate the skill involved, but I don't think they're for me. I've noticed I almost invariably give higher marks to stronger beers - they just seem to have that extra body and complexity that I enjoy (though it could just be that they are higher in quality, whereas average-strength beers are aimed at a broader market, so they are less interesting).

Mark said...

Scyrene: I'd agree that I have a preference for stronger, more complex beer too. At the same time though, there are occasions when something like Blitz! is exactly what I'm looking for. You raise a good question though, can strong beers be fairly rated against weaker beers ... even when rated within their own style definitions?

dredpenguin said...

Trying this out today. 3.35Kg of assorted Crystal malts just steeped 12 hop additions heading for 25IBU with loads of flame out and dry hops. US05. Should be a really quick and easy brewday he says optimistically.

Mark said...

Nice one! Hopefully get to try it at LAB soon. Bet the fermentation is over and done with in no time at all - that's what I found with mine.

dredpenguin said...

Even sooner now that I find my OG was only 1.020, seriously inefficient, may try again with a steep in the mash tun and sparge.

Mark said...

How about using a small amount of pale to bump the OG up? I think that something like carapils and possibly even oats or wheat malt might be a good idea - get that body plumped up a bit!

dredpenguin said...

Yes I agree if I was trying to give it a bit of body 10% oats would help. However I'm determined to get a decent 100% crystal effort working. I have a good idea what to do now.