Gimmicks bad for beer: Charlie Bamforth

Professor Charlie Bamforth

Professor Charlie Bamforth

Brewers should be pushing the envelope in sensible ways rather than the “extreme ridiculousness” peddled by the likes of controversial Scottish outfit, Brewdog, says Professor Charlie Bamforth.

Bamforth told Australian Brews News that there are limitless opportunities for brewers to experiment and create excitement without resorting to such products as Brewdog’s The End of History.

“Inserting highly alcoholic beers into dead squirrels is a gimmick that I don’t think is very clever at a time when in many parts of the world – including this one – there are people who are only too willing to attack the alcohol industry. It isn’t sensible to be pushing products that really are all about extreme ridiculousness,” he said.

“I’ve been on the TV with the Brewdog guys, they’re smart guys. In my opinion they should know better. I like them but I don’t like that product, but I know why they’ve done it – The End of History was so they could get noticed.

“It’s marketing, it’s cheaper than buying a television advertisement for God’s sake, but I don’t like it,” said Bamforth.

Brewdog's The End of History

Brewdog’s The End of History

Another beer the Professor said he will not be rushing out to sample is the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout from Colorado’s Wynkoop Brewing, which uses bull testicles in the recipe.

“I don’t like the concept of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, I think it’s grotesque,” Bamforth said.

“I have been reluctant to taste the product but I am reliably informed that the character of it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Rocky Mountain oysters. It’s a gimmick.”

When it was brought to his attention, Bamforth also condemned the stag semen “milked” stout created by a New Zealand brewery last year.

“It should remain either in the deer or in its intended location,” he said of the semen. “It should not find its way into beer.”

And he has little time for Chicha, the beer made by Dogfish Head using the traditional Peruvian method of chewing and spitting out the grains prior to production.

“Come on! You’re only going to do it once aren’t you? How many of these can you do, for God’s sake?” the Professor asked.

Genuine innovation
At the recent Institute of Brewing and Distilling Convention in Sydney, Bamforth pointed to the newly created Cascadian Dark Ale or Black India Pale Ale style as an example of brewers showing their creativity in the right way.

“It’s a very dark Irish-style black stout merged with an intensely hoppy IPA – even more hoppy than any IPA could ever have been that was shipped out of the British Isles,” he said.

“And they’re beautiful. There’s superb balance, there’s intense flavours.”

As another example he pointed to a dry-hopped lager made by one of his local breweries in California.

“It’s a great beer. They’re not afraid to actually push the barriers. I personally feel that you can push barriers in sensible ways and you can push barriers in not so sensible ways,” Bamforth said.

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