They're a Scottish brewery who were recently condemned for making Tokyo*, at 18.2% one of the strongest beers around. Made with champagne yeast to get the percentage that high it is sold in 330ml bottles, and each of those contains 6 units of alcohol. This is I admit rather a lot for one bottle. They've hit back by making "Nanny State" a 1.1% beer. Alcohol Focus Scotland are not amused that Brew Dog are taking the piss somewhat. When Tokyo* came out they said-
"It is utterly irresponsible to bring out a beer which is so strong at a time when Scotland is facing unprecedented levels of alcohol-related health and social harm.
"Just one bottle of this beer contains six units of alcohol - twice the recommended daily limit."
Brew Dog were marketing this as being a "cure for binge drinking" which does sound stupid, but as they say, any publicity is good publicity.
However this beer costs £9.99 per 330ml bottle. And was produced in a run of 3000. There are much cheaper ways of getting drunk. Vodka for instance. Good vodka even. This beer is about £20 a pint, which is about my budget for a night out, including club entry. Not a beer that lends itself to the "lets get as drunk as we can as quickly and cheaply as possible" market. AFS really are barking up the wrong tree with this one. This is not a beer that will be drunk in quantity, it'll be shared around a group of people in a "look what I've found" session, along with random fruity things from Belgium. Brew Dog are not trying to muscle in on the Special Brew Market. Really they're not. Its a gimmick to get the name out there and people interested in the other beers they make.
Now I don't know much about the binge drinking culture- although if three pints is a binge I "binge" nearly every time I go out for a drink with my friends, and I'm sure most of you do too, so maybe I do know more than I thought? Anyway I digress. This is an expensive, limited edition luxury product. It is not something you would drink in quantity. Hell beer above 8% is not something you can drink in quantity. For one thing the taste and strength is usually somewhat overpowering. Until it ceased production in 1999 Thomas Hardy's Ale was the strongest I knew of at 12%, and I'm sure there were others. Most were marketed as nightcaps, or beers to lay down for a special occasion.
Jeffo's Beer Blog has some interesting things to say on the whole saga- and on their other beers, of which he seems to be a fan, but he does point out that the "strongest beer possible" market is not a large one, and the whole thing is something of a gimmick. He doesn't have much sympathy for the "Beer Geek" style beers, preferring beers you can actually drink more than one of in an evening. This is a view with which I am in general agreement. As for Tokyo* I am not likely to try it, I suspect they've sold out by now. And I'm not spending £10 on less than half a pint- even if its guaranteed to get me blotto just by sniffing it.
I have however tried a couple of their other beers, I didn't particularly like Dogma (7.8%), a heather honey infused ale, that also contains gaurana, kola nut and poppy seeds. I suspect the guarana and kola, coupled withthe strength is why I didn't like it, as I'm rather fond of honey ales, and Fraoch is lovely. (Note to self. Hunt down some mead for the winter). Punk IPA (6%) was nicer, but I prefer its weaker brethren. Sainsbury's still have some left, and it may reward a second visit. I would like to try Paradox (an ale conditioned in whisky casks, like the delectable Innis and Gunn), though at 10% I'm a bit leery of it. If I see it I will try "Trashy Blonde" which sounds much more interesting- its 4.1% so I'd actually want to drink more than one in an evening. I like these guys attempt to be as far from the conventional image of brewing as they can be, but in the end I can't help but agree with Jeffo when he says that "There's little point in pandering to the beer geek market: it's far too small and fickle". I don't drink 8%-9% beers regularly, and I don't know anyone else who does either.