From the Death’s Head Pony Club came forth what today I still call BrewDog’s most technically accomplished beer, Dead Pony Club. Like 5AM Saint, it too had a rough ride into the rebranding of 2015 to Dead Pony Pale Ale (jesus, what were they thinking??) to come out the other sideas the hop blasting 3.8% John Wayne of their beer catalogue. This is not just a trip back down memory lane for a beer I haven’t had in close to a year. It’s a trip back to look at a beer that changed how I wanted to brew beers for myself.
Most know I love my high powered hop bomb beers, & I’m somewhat of an IBU sadomasochist. But, what people don’t realise is I have a huge affection for technically accomplished beers that aren’t high-powered. Dead Pony Club to me represents something that was so ahead of its time, it is the forefather to the idea of a session IPA, despite the fact its not one. I love it so much, I even brewed my own clone of it that came in at 3.9%, which I was incredibly proud of despite the fact I did it using DME, & the same hops, & a hop schedule that was kindly provided by the bearded wonder that is Stuart Bowman of BrewDog, whose home brewing advice I am eternally grateful for.
Cracking open this beer is an instant throwback to the very first time I had this beer. I remember sitting in my old apartment facing this 3.8% beer preparing for mild disappointment only to get smooshed straight in the face with its wonderful aroma, & that even more stunning colour as I poured.
Beer bloggers love to use the word ‘balance’ to describe aspects of a beer, while never really conveying what they mean by it. It’s possibly the most overused word in our lexicon. I’ve used it myself. But, with this beer – it’s an injustice. ‘Harmonious’ is the single most apt word that can be used for it. The aroma works with the body (mouthfeel), the bitterness level & the flavours of the beer from the tip of the tongue, right the way around all the taste sensors of the tongue.
It all comes together effortlessly to be an incredibly symbiotic, & ridiculously satisfying experience. A few years back, I was sat with James Watt talking about their beers, &he said to me that Dead Pony Club was by far his favorite beer of theirs to drink, & that it was Martin’s pride & joy because of how much flavour & body it packs in such a slight ABV.
And as I drink this beer a year on from my last time I had it, it is still a smile inducing, ridiculously enjoyable pleasure. It is an incredibly happy beer. No, I didn’t mistype there. I said ‘happy’. It doesn’t challenge you to find its flavours. It doesn’t do Alton-Towers Nemesis-esque inversions as it’s party piece. I would say this is the Alton Towers equivalent of ‘Oblivion’. A fast & ready thrill ride that is over before you realise it still leaving you with an ear to ear grin, cramming every emotion in a well measured ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ manner.
That’s not as disrespectful as it sounds. If anything, it is a fully fledged lesson in the art of beery succinctness & brevity. And it is still for me, one of the best beers I’ve ever had, despite some incredibly stiff competition from the likes of Irish Breweries like YellowBelly, Whiplash, Blacks of Kinsale & Eight Degrees.
This tasting was like picking up with an old friend not seen in years & picking up where we left off. Effortlessly. Naturally. Familiarly. What a beer. What. A. Beer.