EWB question time: Brewdog’s James Watt

Last week, whilst out for a cheeky Friday evening beveridge, me and Tiger decided to hit up Brewdog on the Cowgate in Edinburgh. Lukasz was already there making his way through the menu and we decided that we should  join in. After a cheeky few we ended up chatting to a lovely chap at the bar, who turned out to be none other than co-founder James Watt. Using my half-cut wit and Tiger’s smooth man-charms, we managed to convice James to do an interview for Edinburgh Whisky Blog. Here is the chat that ensued:

Of your current whisky related range which beer do you feel is the strongest?

We love our new Paradox Jura – a 15% Imperial Stout aged in Jura whisky barrels for over a year. It is available in our Cowgate Bar!

What process do you guys use to select the correct casks for the maturation of your beers?

It all depends on the type of beer we are putting into the casks. As huge whisky fans we love ageing beers in Scotch barrels. For a lighter beer we need a more subtle cask so a old grain cask or a speyside is perfect. Only our most robust, dark, full bodied beers can handle islay casks!

Do you create the beer and match it to a cask, or select the cask and create the beer to match?

It depends on what we are doing. We recently did a spin on the Cranachan dessert. We made a 15% Imperial Milk Stout with raspberries, honey and loads of toasted oats. It is now sitting ageing in a speyside barrel.We once even brewed using some Port Ellen malts and then aged the beer in an Laphroaig cask – it was like drinking an carbonated Islay whisky. The beer was called Bitch Please and was a collaboration with US brewers 3 Floyds.

What would the Brewdog take on the traditional half and half be?

A gourmet take on a great whisky and beer side-by-side tasting. Punk IPA and Springbank is always good!

If you were only allowed to stock one bottle constantly in the Brewdog office, what would it be?

It would have to be our flagship Punk IPA. Although our 18.2% Tokyo* is a great winter beer.

Do you guys have any plans to branch out of the beer industry, perhaps in to spirits? or content with whisky strength beers?

Erm maybe…. We can’t say too much at the moment but watch this space.

DO you have any exciting plans for whisky cask beers in the near future?

We are always experimenting with casks. We just got some great old single grain casks as well as some ex sherry Isle of Arran casks which we are going t age a Cherry Stout in.

If you were to release an extreme whisky, much like your ghost deer, sunk punk and end of history products, what line do you think you would take? Any outrageous ideas?

We could tell you but then we would have to kill you. If we did release a whisky people would be disappointed in us if it was not at least a little bit outrageous!

Finally personally do you have a personal whisky story that trumps the rest? good memory, bad memory or loss of memory included!

It is always really cool to get the whisky casks at BrewDog HQ – we get them really fresh and we are sometimes lucky enough to get some with just a little whisky left in them. The guys are pretty nifty at getting the casks upside down on the toes of the forklift with someone underneath it with a jug and a coffee filter salvaging the remnants of whisky. The recent 1965 Invergordon casks were particularly immense. Not too much work got done that afternoon……

Some funky products and crazy ideas from the Brewdog bunch. Read our review of a couple of the whisky related beers here! Definitely stay tuned to see what wacky shenanigans and whisky partnered concoctions they create!

Graeme Gardiner

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