BrewDogging #86: Basingstoke

Everybody talk about - Pop Masingstoke! (Actually, I'm quite pleased with this picture, achieved with just a bit of in-camera fiddling and no post-production work, so feel free to click on it to see it bigger.)The first BrewDogging post appeared here in February 2013, which means that the project has been running now for just over eleven years. Truth be told, neither The Belated Birthday Girl nor I have quite the same enthusiasm for it now as we did back then. The bars are starting to look a bit samey, the beers have lost their sense of adventure, and then there was all this shit all over the papers last month.

We're still drinking the beers, but that drive to visit every single bar as soon as possible after it opened has left the building by now. It's a fun way to push us into visiting places we wouldn't normally go - and there are a couple of examples of that already in the pipeline for 2024. But to pluck an example out of the air, we wouldn't be using the existence of a bar as a reason to visit, say, Basingstoke.

Or would we?

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BrewDogging #85: Dublin Outpost

Surprisingly popular despite only apparently being open for 2 hours 24 minutes a day.It's late August 2023, and it's my first time in Dublin in several years. It's a visit that's been on the cards for quite some time, because among other things it gives The Belated Birthday Girl and I the chance to visit our first overseas BrewDog bar in over a year. More than a BrewDog bar, in fact: it's an Outpost, the name they give to bars that are effectively brewpubs. (See also Tower Hill, Manchester, and possibly Itaewon although still nobody at BrewDog wants to admit that it's been dead since mid-pandemic.)

It's the 85th one of these reports I've had to write, and every time I arrive in a new place I'm always trying to find a different angle. So: we're in Dublin. Are there any other breweries in town that we could compare this one against? Anyone?

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BrewDogging #84: Hull

How significant is it that the second half of the Drink Beer Plant Trees neon sign has been somehow decommissioned for the Hull bar?Previously, on BrewDogging: back in January, things seemed to be calming down after a rash of bar closures. We started off 2023 with the opening of a swish new bar in Wandsworth - an event that impressed fan favourite Old Lag, as he noted that BrewDog now had a solid presence in South London what with this bar, Clapham Junction and Brixton.

We haven't had the heart to tell Old Lag that just a few weeks later, both the Clapham Junction and Brixton bars were closed with no warning, along with the one in Leicester. As usual, their social media and internet presence were wiped almost immediately, not only removing the chance for anyone to say goodbye but almost, to a degree, removing them from history. I can appreciate that a clean break works better for the business, but on a human level it seems a bit wrong.

Still, we'll keep on trying to visit as many of the bars as we can while they're open, because the BrewDogging project gives us opportunities for all sorts of experiences that we wouldn't normally have. For example, the whole train of thought which started with BrewDog opening a bar in Hull about a year ago, and ended with us being forced to buy a DVD about the abolition of slavery because it was Easter.

Let's take this slowly.

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BrewDogging #83: Wandsworth

In and out of Wandsworth with the numbers on their names, it's funny how their missus always looks the bleedin' sameLast time on BrewDogging, I called into the Upminster bar just before Christmas, and wrote about it a month later. Not too long after the post went online, I realised that there was something important that I forgot to mention. The BrewDogging post before that one was written in August 2022, the climax of a berserk week which took in visits to bars that had recently opened in Inverurie, Ellon, Waterloo and Edinburgh. Waterloo was the most attention-grabbing of the four, being the biggest bar that BrewDog – or, depending on your criteria, anyone else – had opened in the UK.

Which made it all the more awkward when a couple of weeks later, they closed down half a dozen or so of their older bars. Three of them were former Draft Houses that they’d rebranded as BrewDog pubs, which we don’t cover here. But regular readers will recognise the other three. Peterhead, one of the smaller locations on the outskirts of Aberdeen: Old Street, the alcohol-free experiment which first dropped the ‘free’ bit of the concept, and then the ‘alcohol’: and Dalston, whose terrific vegan menu – a rare deviation from the standard BrewDog nosh – will make it the most sadly missed in this household.

It’s not just happening to BrewDog, of course, and it's not just limited to the UK. It's come to light that we lost Florence some time in the last twelve months: it's possible we might have lost Itaewon as well, but nobody at BrewDog seems to want to give a straight answer as to why it’s been closed for "refurbishment" for so long. Times are tough, we get it. And yet BrewDog are still bullishly opening new bars, and making them bigger and bigger, with Waterloo and Las Vegas being the most visible examples.

There aren’t many situations where you can mention Wandsworth in the same breath as Las Vegas, but I guess this is one of them.

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BrewDogging #82: Upminster

i just come out of the ship talking to the most blonde I ever met shouting lager lager lager lager shouting lager lager lager lager shouting lager lager lager shouting mega mega white thing mega mega white thing mega mega white thing mega mega shouting lager lager lager lager mega mega white thing mega mega white thing so many things to see and do in the tube hole true blonde going back to romford mega mega mega going back to romford how am i at having fun i know why you're on your way to a new tension headacheFor those of you who are counting, I've been in my current Moderately Responsible Job In The Computer Industry for just over four years now. It's fun to look back on my first Christmas there, when I had to explain to my new colleagues that I was going to be spending the festive season in Cardiff: not because we knew anybody there, but because we wanted to go to a bar and get them to put a little stamp in our Beer Visas. As I said here at the time, it led to a series of awkward conversations with people who were only just getting to know me, but "I'm sure they'll get used to it eventually."

Four years later, I'm telling the same people just before Christmas 2022 that I'm going to see a panto in Hornchurch because there's a newly-opened BrewDog bar a couple of miles down the road from it. They don't bat an eyelid. See, they did get used to it.

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BrewDogging #80: Waterloo

POV: the last thing you remember is having a couple of pints of Russian Doll at BrewDog Waterloo and then getting onto the slide...In January 2013, I emailed The Belated Birthday Girl a picture I’d just taken of a disused tanning salon in Stockholm, and she got very excited. Seven months after that email, she came back to Stockholm with me, by which time the tanning salon had been converted into BrewDog Kungsholmen. They make BrewDog bars out of the most unlikely places, but that was the only time I could claim to have before-and-after pictures. At least, until now.

There’s a post on this site that went up in November 2007, discussing the opening day of the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International. It’s so comprehensive a discussion that it opens with a picture of the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo station, taken just minutes after the last train to the continent had left from there.

Fifteen years later, that terminal’s now a BrewDog bar, which makes for a rather more spectacular before-and-after comparison.

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BrewDogging #78/#79: Inverurie/DogTap 2.0

These are *small*.“HA HA! ‘THE NEXT STOP IS...’ THAT’S FUCKIN’ HILARIOUS! ‘THE NEXT STOP IS...’”

Not now, Spectacularly Pissed And Shouty Man On The Last Bus Out Of Aberdeen Airport Who’s Apparently Never Heard Recorded Stop Announcements Before, we’re not in the mood. Mainly because we never intended to be on the last bus out of Aberdeen Airport in the first place.

We had a plan, and it was a good one. BrewDog were holding their first Annual General Meeting in three years in Aberdeen, and we were going to use our weekend up there to add a couple more of their bars to our tally (see also 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019). Flying up on the Friday evening, flying back on the Sunday evening, using the credit we'd got from British Airways when they cancelled our flights to the 2020 AGM (which never happened because of Covid) - there's a good day and a half there to fit in all our activities. And then BA took both of our flights off the schedule, meaning we now had to fly up later on Friday night and fly back earlier on Sunday afternoon. And then we had more delays on the Friday night when they gave our plane away to some tax-dodging bastards so that their flight to Jersey wouldn't be held up too long. We eventually got a replacement, which got us into Aberdeen Airport shortly before midnight and therefore onto this bus, sat behind a guy who smells like he would literally burst into flames if you lit a match within ten feet of him.

Still, as we calm down with an incredibly late Northern Monk nightcap at BrewDog Aberdeen, we reflect on how we now have a revised plan to crush that one and a half days worth of activity into a single Saturday. As long as nothing else goes wrong, we should be fine.

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BrewDogging #77: Reykjavik (or C.I. part 1)

Still Life With Board Games. (You'll have to translate the neon for yourselves, I'm afraid.)Sunday 5th June 2022

The last trip we made to a BrewDog bar outside the UK was Hamburg, which was two and a half years ago. The last trip we made to a BrewDog bar outside the UK by plane was Seoul, which was over three years ago. It's quite possible that after all this Covid nonsense, we've forgotten how to travel.

It's certainly the case that we've forgotten how to book Heathrow Express tickets three months in advance to knock them down to an acceptable price - we didn't realise that until it was too late to do anything about it. Still, it means that we start this adventure with our first ever go on the new Elizabeth line, which is currently just a rebranding of the pre-existing slow trains between Paddington and Heathrow (but will eventually connect fully with central London and the East End badlands). The trains look nice, though they're really just Overground carriages coloured in purple.

We get to the airport long before our flight's due, because you've heard the stories - aviation is broken now, and Heathrow is in a permanent state of chaos. But once we've got there, we whizz through check-in and security at a satisfyingly high speed. Our bags aren't so lucky: the baggage conveyors break down literally as we're checking in, and appear to be down across the entire airport. "Just leave the bags on the floor there, they'll get on the plane," we're told. It's a less than reassuring start, both to our journey to Reykjavik, and to a travel article that mysteriously has the words 'part 1' in its title.

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BrewDogging #76: Bath

Got to confess here, this guy was drinking with his partner virtually the whole time we were there, but I waited until she went to the loo so I could get a picture with this whole Hopperesque lone drinker vibe.The pandemic has, among other things, made it clear how rigid a calendar this site works to: there are certain milestones that take place at the same time every year, except for the years when we’re not allowed to do that. Edinburgh in August and London Film Festival in October are the big dates: the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme in February too, to a lesser extent. And then there’s Easter, when The Belated Birthday Girl and I have made it a thing that we spend part of Easter Sunday watching a film made in whichever part of the world we find ourselves in at the time. In recent years, that’s tended to overlap conveniently with our ongoing quest to visit as many BrewDog bars worldwide as we can.

Except, again, for the years when we’re not allowed to do that. So Easter 2020 was spent in London watching 28 Days Later for grim infection-centric yoks, while Easter 2021 – and I don’t think I mentioned this at the time – was also spent in London, this time watching Rocks. (It's alright. End of review.)

Easter 2022? Well, we’re on the move again. We have a trip out of town, a relevant film, a BrewDog bar, and even a bonus city thrown in on top.

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