As far as the boys behind Scotland's rabble-rousing BrewDog are concerned, U.K. beer is as tasty as tepid tea.
Most breweries make "bland, lightly hopped and mildly malty beer," complains Martin Dickie, who co-founded BrewDog in 2007 along with James Watt. Compelled to "make the beers we want to drink ourselves," BrewDog took inspiration from boundary-busting American microbreweries, turning out the hoppy Punk IPA, the whiskey-cask-aged Paradox stout and the Zephyr, a double IPA aged with strawberries in wooden barrels.
"We are raising the bar of beer produced in the U.K.," Dickie explains.
While BrewDog has shown it can craft high-alcohol ales, it's equally adept at the opposite end of the spectrum. Case in point: Nanny State, a 1.1 percent ABV oddity that's cheekily dubbed a "mild imperial ale." But brewing a low-alcohol beer is no laughing matter: "It's pretty tough to get an appreciable mouthfeel in a beer so low in gravity," Dickie says. "We use seven kinds of malts to stand up against the onslaught of Humulus lupulus. We wanted to really give this beer a bite."
At first, Nanny State seems toothless. It pours a deep, dark amber with scant, sluggish carbonation. Had Nanny gone flat? But the pungent perfume of flowers, cut grass and pine promised a hop bounty, which was realized by the first sip: an uncompromising mouth-puckering bitterness, leavened by a light body and the muted flavors of biscuits and toasted caramel.
Nanny is a mad experiment that may only appeal to hop heads, but let's give BrewDog credit: They're pushing brewing's boundaries on both sides of the pond.
Does BrewDog's bark match its bite? Spill it in the comments.