Added: Sunday, March 1st 2009
BrewDog, the Scottish craft brewery based in Fraserburgh, believes in pushing the boundaries of beer making and doesnt mind upsetting the brewing establishment. It has had several disputes with the Portman Group, the industry watchdog that monitors marketing and promotions. Portman has expressed its dislike of such labels as Punk and Hardcore, but, undeterred, BrewDog is now challenging British attitudes to lager.
Its new beer, Zeitgeist, is lagered or cold matured for five weeks - considerably longer than mainstream lagers produced in Britain that are produced as fast as ale.
And Zeitgeist will raise eyebrows as a result of its colour - it's black.
James Watt, who founded the brewery in 2007 with his partner and head brewer Martin Dickie, says he wants to move away from "over-bubbled lagers" and has gone back to the early roots of lager brewing with a dark beer. His research shows that before the industrial revolution of the 19th century, European lager beers were dark as the technology didnt exist to make pale malt.
Dark lagers known as Dunkel are still widely available in Bavaria, southern Germany, but the style has largely disappeared from the neighbouring Czech Republic, home to Pilsner Urquell, the first golden lager produced in the middle of the 19th century. Budweiser Budvar recently launched Budvar Dark with considerable success in both its homeland and in Britain, and its the Czech tradition that has motivated BrewDog to produce Zeitgeist.
BrewDog Zeitgeist (Scotland) This 4.9% beer is brewed with five malts - pale, cara, roasted, pale chocolate and Munich - and has three hop varieties: Cascade and Chinook from the United States and Saaz from the Czech Republic. The yeast culture also comes from the Czech Republic. The beer has a big smoky nose with powerful hints of chocolate, coffee, burnt fruit and hop resins. Bitter hops challenge burnt grain, dark fruit and chocolate in the mouth, followed by a long, dry finish with notes of bitter chocolate, dark fruit, roasted grain and spicy hops. The beer is available in keg, bottle and can but will also be sold in cask-conditioned form - unusual for a lager beer. The bottled version retails at 1.29.
Waverley TBS will sell the cask version throughout Britain while the Belhaven and Castle Rock pub groups in Scotland and the British East Midlands respectively are considering taking the beer, as are several supermarket chains. The brewery has a website, brewdog.dog, but will also launch a separate site for the dark lager: zeitgeistbeer.com and will invite drinkers to contribute their thoughts on the beer.