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Gavin D Smith

Gavin is probably best known as an authority on Scotch whisky and brewing. He is the author of 16 books, including the Scottish Beer Bible. He contributes to a wide range of publications. He is the contributing editor of our sister title,

BrewDog Beers

BrewDog is one of Scotland's newest micro-breweries, having come on stream earlier this year. It is the brainchild of 24-year-old Heriot Watt University brewing graduate Martin Dickie and former fisherman James Watt, who are already turning out a confident and idiosyncratic line up of cask and bottled beers from their premises in the north-east fishing port of Peterhead.

BrewDog, Hop Rocker (Scotland)
Dry and lemony on the nose, Hop Rocker lives up to its name with a big, punchy blast of astringent hops on the initial palate, which then develops more lemon and a suggestion of peaches. BrewDog describes this as “A statuesque lager,” and while it may frighten off the Carlsberg drinker, it is a distinctly characterful and thirst-quenching alternative for more adventurous quaffers of the genre. 5.5% ABV, 33cl, £1.99, brewery website, independents.
BrewDog, Paradox Ale (Scotland)
An innovative Imperial Stout, brewed to 8%ABV and marketed in two varieties – a peaty-flavoured version which has been matured in ex-Islay whisky casks, and a more citrus style of beer which comes from ex-Speyside casks. The whisky influence increases the strength to 10.0%ABV at bottling. The first limited edition batch is Paradox Islay Cask, which was filled into a 1996 Caol Ila single malt whisky barrel, and the powerful Imperial Stout interacts well with the full-bodied, earthy, peaty and slightly medicinal Caol Ila influences. Liquorice, roast malt, dark chocolate and a smouldering bonfire on the nose. Lapsang Souchong tea on the palate, with a not unpleasant fishy note. A bold fusion, and the perfect alternative to a dram and a chaser… 10.0% ABV, 33cl, £2.75, brewery website, independents.
BrewDog, Punk IPA (Scotland)
According to its brewers this is a “Post modern classic pale ale.” They go on to antagonise the drinker by stating that “It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to appreciate the depth, character and quality of this premium craft brewed beer.” If you take up the implied challenge, you will find that the nose is dry and grapey, and Punk is actually full-bodied and hoppy enough to be not far removed from a traditional India Pale ale, as exported in the days of the British Empire. Well balanced and very pleasing on the palate. 6.0% ABV, 33cl, £1.99, brewery website, independents.
BrewDog, The Physics (Scotland)
A bright, amber beer with hops and caramel on the nose and an intriguing interaction of fruit/fudge and spicy, hoppy bitterness on the palate. This dog can bite! Brewed using Caramalt and Crystal malt, plus First Gold hops, this is “A beer with a slight identity crisis,” as the attitude-laden bottle label puts it. However, it is an identity crisis that works very well in the glass. 5.0% ABV, 33cl, £1.99, brewery website, James Clay.


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