Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Swedish Love Their Nanny State

The reader might not be aware that Hardknott has started acting as a wholesale agent for BrewDog. It makes quite a lot of sense really, I like BrewDog and I own a tiny1 bit of their company. Besides, I'm not clever enough to dream up my own world domination plans, so I might as well be part of someone else's. Our first experience of the arrangement was quite positive; We've managed to get rid of a whole palate load of Brewdog beer and are looking to put in another order.

The first delivery was mostly right, just one case of Nanny State instead of Hardcore IPA. Easy mistake to make, there isn't that much difference between the two.... is there? We managed to get the Hardcore delivered later and progressed to sell the Nanny State in addition to the forward orders we had already taken. Mostly the bottled stuff went out in mixed taster cases, a good way to introduce new pubs to the concept and see what sells.

Early results showed that Punk IPA and 5am Saint goes quite well in bottles. Probably not surprisingly the higher ABV beers sell slower. The shock was that Nanny State started to fly out from a couple of places, so much so that we got orders for whole cases. "My customers can't believe a 0.5%2 beer can taste this good." said one publican.

The UK beer geek scene completely slated Nanny State when BrewDog released it. We didn't like it and I was just as vocal as everyone else about how it just tasted of "hop tea" and completely unbalanced. I seem to remember even Mark Dredge, who normally can't say anything against BrewDog gave it a big thumbs down.

Recently Jeff Pickthall popped in to one of the pubs we had supplied and drank a bottle3. He'd guessed we had supplied it and commented to me about how pleased he was to have found the beer. Unfortunately I have been unable to try this latest incarnation as it's always sold out when we socially visit the pubs we've supplied.

So, better put an order in for some more, quick like. 6 cases of that on top of all the other beer. A mix of cask and bottles will do nicely, please.

The reply came back from Fraserburgh, in that lovely Scottish accent;

BrewDog "No, you can't have any more the now"

Hardknott "What?"

BrewDog "I mean, erm, most of the order is OK but we messed up properly last time and you shouldn't have got the case of Nanny State you did get, you can't have any more, sorry"

Hardknott "Why's that then?"

BrewDog "We don't sell it in this country because Mark Dredge4 said it was crap and so no one buys it."

Hardknott "So how come we got the last case?"

BrewDog "It was a mistake, that's what you get when you employ penguins as casual labour -Although they were distracted by the fear of being chased around by Bracken, so you can't completely blame the penguins.......... "

Hardknott "Ok, ok, enough about penguins.... so, if you can't sell it how come you had some, and why can't we have some more?"

BrewDog "It was part of a consignment that was being shipped to Sweden, it's the only place we can shift the stuff after Dredgy had a pop at it. In fact we sell loads of it out there....... It's all gone there we're afraid....... "

So, there you have it. The beer geeks don't like Nanny State because we don't drink beer with almost no alcohol in it. It turns out that normal people5 really like it. We have customers who want to buy more of Nanny State than they want to buy Punk IPA or 5am Saint. It's probably because, which ever way you look at it, Nanny State is much better than Cobra Zero6.

Perhaps us beer geeks are a little detached from reality. So please James, we'd like some more, go on, give Nanny State another chance in the UK.

Update: Apparently James is in Tokyo and can't comment on the issue. However, Tom Cadden, who is BrewDog's London sales rep tells me that Nanny State has had it's IBU rating7 dropped from a whopping 225 down to 45.


1OK, so "tiny" is perhaps exaggerating; "infinitesimally minuscule" might be better.

2I thought Nanny State was 1.2%, but I suspect this is a alcohol duty thing that differs from state to sovereign state.

3He was showing Pete Brown the delights of Cumbria. I have this image of them trying to scale Scafell Pike or water skiing on Ullswater....

4Yeah, OK, I'm making this conversation up, .... but.

5which by inference places Jeff Pickthall in the normal bracket - I really didn't intend this to turn into a work of fiction loosely based on fact.

6Why do I have to put in my DoB when I am looking at a web page for a non-alcoholic beer?

7IBU = International Bitterness Units. It is generally accepted that over 100 is going to strip the lining from your stomach. A standard UK bitter might be 30-50 IBU. However, as the ABV of a beer drops so the IBU should to balance it out. It's not so much the actual ABV as the residual unfermentable sugars which are in proportion to the original fermentable sugars. Have I lost you yet?

Anyway, 225 IBU in a beer with nearly no alcohol is just crazy. A beer with 225 IBU and 10% would be very flavoursome. 45 sounds much better for a low ABV beer.

Now, please can we try some?


Jeff Pickthall said...

I loved Nanny State. I drive to pubs far too often and get a bit fed up with Diet Coke and J2O. I wish all the pubs to which I drive had Nanny State, though I would be inclined to carry around a jar of honey so I could put a teaspoon of it in every bottle.

OTOH, I wasn't terribly impressed by Hardcore IPA. It's like Brian Blessed arguing with Rev Iain Paisley next to a jet engine. I need to experience some background whispers too.

Sid Boggle said...

Didn't they brew 2 versions? The first was 1.1% and was bottled and casked. The latter I've never seen, but the 0.5% sounds right for version 2.

The 1.1% was a joke - 'hop tea' sounds about right...

Alistair Reece said...

"Brian Blessed arguing with Rev Iain Paisley next to a jet engine."

The best description of a beer ever?

BeerReviewsAndy said...

nanny state is one of the worst things ive put in my mouth in a long time...i can't believe i actually paid for it. should have spent the cash on another hardcore...

Unknown said...

There is the question about the version. Perhaps for the 0.5% version the over-the-top hopping has been tamed. I know that Martin Dickie understood the feedback from the first version. But perhaps the damage had already been done.

Even so, Sid and Andy, if you had to, be honest, would you rather drink Nanny State or Cobra Zero? - I know which I'd choose.

Or even, as Jeff suggests, Nanny State or J2O for goodness sake.

The Beer Nut said...

Let the record state that I quite liked Nanny State.

Mark Dredge said...

Oh Dave, you a moment there my wild imaginations started running at the prospect of all the beers I'd made or broke just by the opinions I've blogged... and then you break the fantasy of power!

Horrid, undrinkable stuff though.

Sid Boggle said...

@Dave: I'd have liked to have tried v2, which I heard better things about. If you backed me into a corner over my low/no alcohol options, I'd probably follow the hops...

StringersBeer said...

FFS. It's not beer. It's more like hop bitter(s). Used to be a big thing back in the day. Why not make some yourself.

Cooking Lager said...

Let the record state that I could not be bothered to try Nanny State because I had some Foster's in the fridge.

BeerReviewsAndy said...

Dave - if im honest id rather drink cobra zero than the 0.5% nanny state but if it came down to it i would either not drink or have some juice.

tania_nexust said...

I would really, really like there to be a beer of 0.5% or thereabouts that is tasty, hoppy, and balanced.

I never got to try any of the 'orginal' nanny state, but the first-hand opinions of others online (and close associates who know my palate well) indicated I really wouldn't like it.

If there is a version two, PLEASE could someone, somewhere get some samples and try again!

A genuine tasty, hoppy low-alcohol beer would be the biggest innovation I can think of in the UK ale scene (and perhaps wider afield, I don't know if any USA micros have come up with one?) and something I think a lot of people would welcome. I don't think it was the alcohol content that put people off.

Can you plead with BrewDog to release some of this v2 to the English/Scottish market for feedback?

Unknown said...

Folks, you might like to note the update in this blog post regarding the IBU figure for the new vrs. old versions.......

Reuben Gray - TaleOfAle said...

I have yet to try it myself. Must see if have some.

Ghost Drinker said...

I thought nanny state was a great beer, it was like licking trees!! it would be great to get this beer back and also 'how to disappear compleatly' - top notch stuff.

Mark said...

I thought there were 3 version of Nanny State. The 1.1% original, the 0.5% original and the 0.5% with fewer IBU's.

The 1.1% was terrible. Total crap. How anybody could like that is beyond me, I can only assume they've been drinking the new version and that it's a lot better.