We caught up with the Scottish brewers to talk about their new show “Brew Dogs” and the crazy, unbelievable beer you can expect to see.
It wouldn’t be too far off base to call James Watt and Martin Dickie eccentrics. You may remember the co-founders of Scottish craft brewery BrewDog from their past work, like the monumentally intriguing The End of History release, a 55%-ABV strong ale sold in bottles engulfed in taxidermy. Or maybe you’ve seen the slew of online promotional videos featuring the duo dressed up in penguin (and an assortment of other animal) costumes. Beginning Tuesday night, they’re the new faces of craft beer on TV when “Brew Dogs” debuts on the Esquire Network. In typical BrewDog fashion, it will be eccentric.
Just how far out in left field? In the second episode, the team mysteriously brews a beer in Philadelphia that’s digitally encoded with 328 million copies of the Declaration of Independence—while riding on a float during the city’s Fourth of July parade.
Each episode finds Watt and Dickie in a new city, teamed up with a local brewer to craft incredibly weird beer in a sometimes impossibly strange location (like on a beer-keg raft floating down Oregon’s Willamette River).
We caught up with Martin Dickie to find out a little bit more about what to expect from the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it series.
Your location choices give new meaning to extreme brewing. Which spot was the most worrisome?
We brewed a beer in Boston [with Boston Beer’s Jim Koch] on a tall ship while sailing in the bay. That was pretty dangerous. The brew system was rigged up on a gimbal, but it was still quite sketchy with all the boiling water sloshing.
What kind of beer did you brew on the ship?
A sour scotch ale with lobsters and crabs in it. We used a sour mash in that one, and the mash was soured by James, Jim Koch and myself sitting in the hot mash. We used the bacteria from our own bodies to sour the mash. It was a pretty crazy concept.
What was the inspiration behind matching these weird beers with equally weird brewing locations?
The idea was to try to encompass the town in the beer, but also brew the beer in an area that represents the place as well. In Denver, we wanted to be high up. In the Portland episode, we brewed the beer floating down a river on a keg raft. Some of the beer styles were a bit crazier than others. The best tasting beer was in Seattle, and it was the most caffeinated beer ever; an imperial stout with coffee in it. We purified caffeine out of coffee beans, which was fun and a bit dangerous.
Any chance viewers will get to try these beers?
I wouldn’t say we’ll be making them commercially. It was just a fun way to hang out with brewers from the different locations. But, whenever you make a beer you learn something, like if you brew with the hottest chili in the world.
What do you hope viewers take away from the show?
The plan was to make other people as passionate about beer as we are. For part of the TV show, we try to find as may craft beer virgins as possible and allow them to try craft beer. They think of generic lagers, so we try to expose them to tastes of chocolate, tastes of coffee. Hopefully that’s the hook they need to then go on their own and try the thousands of amazing beers that are made in America.
“Brew Dogs” airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CT on the Esquire Network.