Brewdog’s #Mashtag is an interesting idea, created (or at least designed) by inviting a public vote of each aspect of the brew; the malt, hops, label design and (this being Brewdog, the inevitable) twist.
Check the details here.
Of course this much democratic power can be risky; the phrase ‘A Camel is a Horse designed by a committee.‘ (attributed to Sir Alec Issigonis – the designer of the original ‘Mini’ car) springs to mind.
Whether brave or foollhardy, it’s an interesting premise.
The first #Mashtag in 2013 was an “American Brown Ale” brewed to 7.5% ABV featuring with New Zealand hops and aged on Hazelnuts and Oak chips. While I never tried it (I can’t afford to try every brew that Brewdog release and I’m not yet on their ‘Beer Pixies‘ list) it was well regarded.
#Mashtag 2014 is described as a “Democratic Imperial Red Ale” brewed – as you will see from the heading above – to 9% ABV.
So what did ‘the (40,000) people’ design?
Well the malts are Cara, Crystal, Extra Pale and Black – an interesting mix. The hops are Amarillo, Mittelfruh and Motueka, and the ‘twist’? Blood Orange, Orange and Lemon peel. Where does THAT take us?
Well, it pours a dark red colour, a rich garnet, with a latte coloured head that fades rapidly.
The nose is bitter orange, with hints of pine resin. Not quite the “riot of citrus, in many forms, from orange pith to lemon zest, via lime juice and even lemongrass” that Brewdog’s label writer promises, but pleasant enough, and robust.
The flavour starts with rich treacle toffee, dried fruits and hints of smoke, before the orange starts to come through. Bitter orange, like Oxford marmalade, not a wussy, sweet orange, in turn underpinned by grapefruit.
It’s very much a sipping beer, a sitting by the fire on a cold winter evening beer. The 9% ABV gives a warming glow and, while it’s rich, challenging and warming, like Brewdog’s “Pumpkinhead” I didn’t reach for a second. I’m happy to have another on the shelf though.
I gave ‘Pumpkinhead’ three Brewclub stars, I’m happy to give this another half, almost another full star.
We have a general election coming up later this year in Blighty; I can only hope that that democratic process comes up with an equally challenging and satisfying result.