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BrewDog Bar Reviewed...Especially For Food

Jonathan Schofield gets his chops on a burger

Published on May 17th 2012.


BrewDog Bar Reviewed...Especially For Food

IT's the funniest thing in catering for many a long year.

Juicy, this was ladies and gents. A fantastic fandango of flavours flooding the palate at each hearty bite.

The beastly big beast that is Diageo, drinks giant extraordinaire, squashing an independent but spunky brew-bar.

At last week's British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) Awards in Scotland, the sponsors Diageo (Guinness, Smirnoff and so on) spotted that the indie chain, BrewDog, was about to win Bar Operator of the Year.

So the asinine fools that were representing Diageo that evening bullied the equally asinine organisers to give it to a more appropriate chain - one that stocks Diageo products.

Later when the truth came out, the BII Scotland Chairman, Kenny Mitchell said: "We are all ashamed and embarrassed about what happened."

What a weak fella.

Diageo apologised too and said: "There was a serious misjudgement by (our) staff. This does not reflect in any way on Diageo's corporate values and behaviour."

The happy result - the funny bit - is that BrewDog gained far more promotional value than merely being handed a pappy gong. 

Manchester's recently opened BrewDog bar on Peter Street is far from the Scottish group's homeland. Still, maybe a little of the reflected glow from the scandal will help boost custom. 

On a couple of recent visits it certainly appears to be settling in nicely.

On a street once famous for vast barns filled with the inebriated classes battling furiously, BrewDog delivers craft and guile.

The 5am beerThe 5am beer

And overwhelming self-confidence. 

As noted in one of our Sleuth columns last year the label for their ‘5am Slam’ beer reads like this. 'You probably don’t know about beer. You don’t understand beer. You don’t know what good beer is or how truly pathetic mass-market beers are. This is condemningly ironic considering how much beer we drink in the UK.

'Would you apply the same lack of care, knowledge and passion in other areas of your life? What does this say about you? Maybe you want to define yourself with bland, tasteless lowest common denominator beer. We won’t have any part of it.

‘It’s not all your fault. Constrained by lack of choice. Seduced by the monolithic brewers huge advertising budgets. Brain-washed by vindictive lies perpetrated with the veracity of pseudo-propaganda. You can’t help being sucked down the rabbit hole. The UK beer scene is sick. And we are the doctor.’

Sometimes this attitude grates.

The term 'punk-brewery' that's been applied to BrewDog makes me vomit, but you have to admire the verve with which the BrewDogs proclaim loud and proud 'In Hops We Trust'. They are obviously very committed.

They also do some of the best bar food around. 

Scrumptious madamScrumptious madam

The Whitechapel burger I had one lunchtime cost £5.95 and was almost as good as the Almost Famous Burgers I eulogised a month or so ago. That is some achievement.

Juicy, this burger was ladies and gents. A fantastic fandango of flavours flooding the palate at each hearty bite. The Whitechapel is 'an ode to the Bangla/British flavors (sic) of London', It has lush curry-coated beef, capped by Keen's Cheddar cheese, chutney, onions and a really beautiful cucumber and mint coolant for the very evident heat. Go get one. 

They should add a quid to the price though and bring out some fries and sauces with the lovely thing.

Full-on and hotFull-on and hot

The pizzas are just as good. The Santa Ana at £9.95 has a pizza-base that a Neapolitan dough basher would swoon over. It's another hot bugger too. There are pickled jalapenos, sweet corn, chillies, chorizo, avocado, and even more hot stuff in the cumin heavy sauce. It broke in the mouth wonderfully and was enough for two. This was a controlled atomic bomb of a pizza, flavoursome but explosive.

There's a choice of three pizzas and three burgers by the way, plus grazing platters for groups.

There's also a pinball machine,  smug/clever notices on the walls, books about beer, and a very very basic, shack-in-the-Australian-outback appearance. 

It's great for the youngsters but for a man in his forties a little tough. The stools for the central high tables are low even for someone who's 6ft 1". Meanwhile the brick wall outside is laughable and should never have received planning permission.

Pinball machine - what a fine thingPinball machine - what a fine thing

But the food is very good as the pictures on this page illustrate.

The beer that defines BrewDog is good too. We washed our food down with a '5am' and a 'Punk'. Both excellent, both too aggressively hoppy.

Despite Brewdog's boasts there are better micro-breweries in Greater Manchester producing more subtle and complex beers than BrewDog. Innocent Smoothie style marketing can't mask that.

We're going to do another article in the coming weeks examining more minutely the strengths and weaknesses of the nearly men of the British Institute of Innkeeping Scotland, Bar Operator of the Year Award.

All in all though BrewDog is a most welcome addition to the city scene. If you like to experience something fresh and novel give it a whirl.

I'm just slightly worried it's just a bit too close for comfort to the Confidential office. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

BrewDog, 35 Peter Street, City centre. 

Rating: 15.5/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below)
Food: 8/10
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 3/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

BarBar

Un-wonder wallUn-wonder wall

Hops for smellingHops for smelling

The bottled stuffThe bottled stuff

Exact representations of the staffExact representations of the staff

Inside outInside out


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30 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Poster BoyMay 17th 2012.

It's all a little ...earnest. And their choice, or rather, change in choice of location speaks volumes.

AnonymousMay 17th 2012.

I applaud the attempt to wean the younger drinker away from "factory" lagers and alcopops but i found the Punk IPA a bit disappointing and seriously overchilled. I agree that "there are better micro-breweries in Greater Manchester producing more subtle and complex beers than BrewDog". But if visiting Brewdog then means drinkers will be on the lookout for other real ales then that's good for everyone. I will be back and I intend to try a burger too.

AnonymousMay 17th 2012.

you'll stuggle to beat their winter porter though

AnonymousMay 17th 2012.

REAL PUB??? We'll see when it opens on 25th May check this -> http://www.tibstreettavern.co.uk/

1 Response: Reply To This...
BoozerMay 17th 2012.

Sounds awful

AnonymousMay 17th 2012.

I've been to several of their bars, most recently the Edinburgh one a few weeks ago. Judging from my observations the "older" clientele (55+) definitely out-numbered the young 'uns in there which was great to see. BrewDog pubs aren't about age groups or demographics, they are pubs for people of all ages who appreciate good beer.

Kevin PeelMay 17th 2012.

I think this would have been much better suited to the original Dale Street site they had planned, but I look forward to going down and sampling the food... and the beer!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Calum McGJuly 9th 2012.

But Peter Street is a dump and needs reviving. Fair play to them and for bringing reasonable beer to that part of town.

Zoe PriddingMay 17th 2012.

I love the meet the team "phot" board :) like the look of the burger, will have to try a lunch in opposite of my usual direction

KarlMay 17th 2012.

Went two weeks ago for a quick drink.
Agree that the punk IPA was over-chilled but this another good addition to those that want a decent pint within the city centre.

AnonymousMay 17th 2012.

I'm all for rare meat but that burger looks a little on the raw side.

Publican SamMay 17th 2012.

went to the opening of the one in Nottingham ... not as much on offer as the Manchester branch ... http://www.publicansam.blogspot.com ... Mad Dogs and Englishmen ...

Joe LovanoMay 17th 2012.

It's a good location from the point of view of the poor sods who stay at the hotel across the road. At least now they will easily be able to find a proper pint...

tblzebraMay 17th 2012.

People who stay at the 5 star Radisson are poor sods Joe?

It's a 2 minute walk to the Sir Ralph Abercromby or 5 minutes to the Nag's Head or the Rising Sun...

David NewtonMay 18th 2012.

Do be aware of their pricing policy in that halves are not the pint prices divided by two. There is a significant price differential here which gets worse if you order a third of a pint. One example is £3.95 a pint going up to £2.15 a half and then £1.50 a third (= £4.50 a pint !). Now that's a markup of 12.5% .. and its certainly not clear from the displayed / chalked-up price boards.

AnonymousMay 18th 2012.

I went to the Brew Dog last week, and I must say I was amazed! From the needlessly high chalk board listing beers on nameless taps, to the surly and borderline aggressive service, all because one dares to ask what beers they sell, and all for the phenomenal price of £4.25 a pint. That's four pounds twenty-five pence by the way. For a pint. Just one pint.

Poster BoyMay 19th 2012.

Emporer's New Clothes....at prices to match

StephenMay 23rd 2012.

Called in at the weekend, and found it a bit of a let down. If Starbucks sold strong cold keg electric pump beers, and went down a rather poorly advised corporate rebranding route of giving "punk" attitude to drink names, then you'd have this place.

Nice staff and in a good spot with views of the old Free Trade Hall hotel facade, it's not without it's merits. An emphasis away from the rocket fuel end of the drinks spectrum and some hand pump session ales would Be a very welcome improvement.

Stewart DeasMay 24th 2012.

Some good comments here - yes, Brewdog is a triumph of marketing over substance - their beers are all keg or bottled, obviously for people who can't tell the difference between 'real', ie cask beers and the gassy crap we were forced to drink in the 70s - strange thing is, until recently they also used to brew good cask beers eg Trashy Blonde, which was up there with the best of them.
And it's all hugely over-priced, to catch the gullible souls with more money than sense.
However, do I care? No! Because I bought a load of shares in their share issue and now see their pre-tax profits up 92% in a year - I'll be coining it in thanks to Brewdog's marketing nouse.........but drinking elsewhere!

AnonymousMay 24th 2012.

..

AnonymousMay 24th 2012.

..

AnonymousMay 24th 2012.

Testing.... it will only let me remain anonymous...

JJMay 24th 2012.

Dear Anon, sign in and then it won't be anonymous. Or post and put you name underneath the comment

Blonde but not TrashyMay 24th 2012.

I've been past a few times and only ever noticed one woman! Would I be welcome here? More to the point, would I feel welcome?

P.S. I had signed in! The drop-down menu is now working.

Hero
Swiss JamesMay 26th 2012.

Really disappointed by Brew Dog last night- didn't realise that a pint was not 2 x 1/2 price, so was paying 3.90-4.90 a half.

My Punk IPA tasted grim, and mates told me it's normally a lot nicer than that. Took it back to the bar, staff tried a sample out of the pump (not my glass), said it was fine- no replacement offered.

Choked down my 8 pound pint and left.

AnonymousMay 27th 2012.

Odd crowd of pony-tailed It worker/Rock music types and surly bar staff, but this is still preferable to the clientel of many city centre establishments, especially on that street. The wall outside is an eye-sore and that terrace is a missed opportunity... Some interesting beers though and the food looked great. I dislike the branding and marketing of Brewdog, although I may return for a burger when its quiet.

CobbydalerJune 5th 2012.

Those prices are ridiculous!

DavidJune 9th 2012.

Expensive with staff who don't have a clue.

FurFoxAcheJune 28th 2012.

Went last night for a pre-cinema bite to eat and a pint. I had the Whitechapel Burger, my friend had the plain burger (forget its name). Both rare as hell but really very good. Not impressed by the beer and I agree that the beers are overly hoppy. That said, I'd rather have too much taste than none at all!

I'm not convinced by the layout. Its like a factory canteen or something. Just doesn't work for me. That said, I'd definitely go back for a quick bite and a drink. £4.95 for a very good burger is a fantastic price.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2012.

*5am Saint. Come on chaps, a quick glance at http://www.brewdog.com would have spotted that one.

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