IN DEFENSE OF BREW DOG’S “THE END OF HISTORY”

My dear, sweet Brother Barley recently opined that Brew Dog has gone the way of the Fonz vis a vis “The End of History” – a 55% ABV monster tucked into taxidermied roadkill.  The Professor readily agreed.  Angry words were exchanged.  Fists were thrown.  A good cry was had by all.  In the jury room of Aleheads opinion, therefore, your Baron shall undertake the role of Bob Cummings.

While I’m completely opposed to gimmicks, I’m not at all opposed to novelty.  In this case I think it’s hard to call “The End of History” strictly a marketing gimmick because it’s just too damn expensive to be viable from a marketing perspective.  Will media buzz have a residual effect of increasing sales of Brew Dog’s cheaper offerings?  Maybe.  I’d be curious to know whether Utopias increased sales of Sam Adams.  I tend to doubt it.  It’s hard to imagine someone picking up a sixer of Punk IPA just because they read about a squirrel-stuffed 55% ABV monster in their regional newspaper.  A hot babe in fishnets is a better bet by far.  If The End of History is intended to be a marketing gimmick, it’s a risky one at best.  

As such, I’m inclined to give Brew Dog the benefit of the doubt on this one.  These guys really aren’t a mainstream brewery and I don’t think they intend to become the next Goose or Sam.  To the contrary, they strike me as ::huge:: beer nerds having a lot of fun with a chemistry lab (and circus costumes).  By analogy, not everyone is going to be a fan of molecular gastronomy, but I’m not about to take a diatribe against Grant Achatz seriously.  Alinea is pure genius, love it or hate it.  Why not push the envelope when you have the resources to do so? 

“The End of History?”  Ballsy.  Notwithstanding that Fukuyama was nuts-out wrong, the bravado implied is just outstanding: “This is to beer what democracy is to history.”  I spent a year of my life as an undergrad picking Fukuyama’s thesis apart.  Like I said – huge, ::huge:: nerds.  Bless their hearts.  The squirrel?  Truly hilarious.  Come on.  They bottled a fucking squirrel.  That’s charming.  It’s performance art meets beer.  Do I want to pay $750 for a brew?  No.  Do I want to try a 55% beer?  Not especially.  But I like that someone out there is playing with ideas, taking risks, and having some fun to boot.  If a little radicalism – no matter how foolish – hurts some people’s opinions of the craft brewing movement, so be it.  They were fair weather fans at best.  If it emboldens enemies of liberty and takes the piss out of prohibitionists, let’s help Brew Dog take up the sword.  A little revolution now and then is a good thing.  I say: let the slow clap begin here. 

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12 comments

  1. Here’s my concern. Craft brewing is still a somewhat “fragile” industry. While it’s growing in leaps and bounds, the truth is that the brewing world is still dominated by mass-production swill factories who hold an ungodly amount of political sway. Laws are starting to change in favor of small, craft brewers, but the big dogs are fighting deregulation at every turn. They’re also using their massive marketing clout to attempt to stamp out interest in the better products their smaller competitors are making. I submit that it is in the swill factories’ best interests for companies like BrewDog to produce the End of History which makes craft brewers look like weird, eccentric, extremists. A company like Bud can point to the End of History and say “Why would you want to get involved with those freaks? We’d never jam our product up a squirrel’s ass.” Anything that helps Bud hurts the industry in my humble opinion.

    Although, as I said in the original post, the squirrel part is the least of my concerns…it’s the package in toto. A $750 beer in this economic climate? That just smacks of hubris. And I’m sure even the Baron will admit that a 55% beer is absolute overkill. That’s too strong for a robust whiskey, let alone a beer. What kind of complex notes can you detect in a brew when your nostrils and tongue are being scorched by booze?

    From a personal standpoint, I live in a state (Alabama) that has draconian beer laws that are ever-so-slowly starting to change. But it’s a highly conservative state that hates and fears change. The publicity that something like the End of History gets could damage the progress we’re making here. I can just see a state legislator getting up on his soapbox and ranting against the “Dead Squirrel Beer”. “Oh, won’t someone thing of the children!”, he’ll say. “We must ban microbreweries in the state lest we come home and find our sons and daughters stealing money from our wallets to buy a $750 bottle of cask strength beer that’s stuffed inside a godless, woodland creature! Shudder!”

    Hyperbole? Of course. But regardless of whether or not you agree with my argument, I stand by my earlier statement regarding Sudsy’s rebuttal: “Baron, your ideas are stupid and you are stupid.”

  2. Although, I do appreciate that BrewDog is dividing the Aleheads into Federalist and Anti-Federalist camps. I’m clearly on the Adams/Hamilton side of the fence. The Baron favors Jefferson/Madison.

    I just hope Paul Giamatti doesn’t play me in the Aleheads mini-series.

  3. Post-revolution philosophical differences notwithstanding, none of the men you mentioned feared conflict in the interest of liberty. In this debate, by contrast, you are the John Alsop of the Aleheads – favoring reconciliation with your tyrannical Alabamian overlords over overt conflict. Though records from the era are difficult to authenticate, it is widely held that General Washington dubbed Alsop a “sissy little girl whose ideas and persona represented an apotheosis of stupidity” in light of his refusal to sign the Declaration. Or something like that. As before, I bet you a bottle of “The End of History” that my call to arms will trump your entreaty for caution when the history of Aleheads.com is written, in epic verse, by scribes of the future… unless it’s by you (and who are we kidding, it probably will be). In the meantime, if the ‘Bama legislature produces a bottle on the legislative floor, count me on the next flight from Boston to participate in the revolution.

  4. Are you comparing a Dead Squirrel Beer to the Declaration of Independence? Yes? Just checking.

    The problem with your analogy (a wise grad school prof once told me that only idiots make arguments based on analogy…which is why I do it all the time), is that you’re placing everyone in two camps: the Craft Beer Movement and the Anti-Deregulators. My issue is that weird, off-putting beers like the End of History alienate the third, and most important group: the Great Undecided. High-quality, reasonably-priced, non-rodent-packaged beers could sway the indifferent masses into the Craft Beer camp, but I firmly believe they could just as easily be pushed away when they read about an insanely expensive beer served in a dead stoat (and seriously, what’s a fucking stoat?).

    What if Jefferson had written the Declaration, stuffed it inside a dead Woodchuck and charged 750 shillings for a copy? I suspect more than just Alsop would have refused to sign it. I recognize that I’m continuing an already inane analogy, but my point isn’t that we shouldn’t fight for our rights as beer drinkers (hooray for double negatives!). I like to think we do a bit of that here at Aleheads. My point is that there are practical and impractical ways to take the battle to the enemy. Tact is an important part of any war strategy, after all.

    Practical Way: Brew high-quality, complex, reasonably-priced beer that any sane person would admit is better than the crap Americans have been drinking for decades. Build up a constituency of craft-beer drinkers in your region that encourages other breweries to open and share their offerings. Reach an economic tipping point so that any half-intelligent state legislator will recognize that craft beer is no longer a novelty, but is instead a growth industry that brings jobs and tax revenue to the region. Support deregulation of the industry to allow for bigger and better growth. Reap the benefits!

    Impractical Way: Stuff a beer bottle up a squirrel’s ass. Pretend your “edgy”.

    1. The founding generation analogy was yours old friend. I merely carried it to a Swiftian conclusion for sport. (And to call you a sissy girl.) The problem with the debate in general is that it’s irrelevant. What you find shocking, irresponsible, and potentially dangerous I merely found amusing and a bit ballsy. You think my argument lacks merit, and I feel likewise about yours. So be it. At the end of the day, the only clear winner is Brew Dog. The press is talking about The End of History, beer drinkers are talking about The End of History, and from a sun-dappled lounge chair from my vacation perch on Cape Cod I am corresponding with you for the third time today about The End of History. For a beer that none of us will ever even get to see – let alone taste – That’s a fairly impressive feat no matter what your opinion of extreme brewing.

      In any event, we’ve said our pieces and the world is no richer for it. Perhaps another Alehead will take up the pen and tell us we’re both wrong. In the meantime, it’s nearly cocktail hour on the Cape.

      Sent from my iPhone

  5. Also, BrewDog is located in Scotland. And as Magnus can tell you, if you’re looking at Scottish people as your “marketing experts”, you’ve got some problems.

    Remember, this is the country whose official slogan is: “Come for the boiled sheep’s stomach…stay for the head butts!”

  6. Hence why I called myself an idiot for analogizing the argument in the first place (as I do with all arguments). I should have put the emphasis on the problems with YOUR analogy. Mine was apt. Yours was stupid. Why? Because mine was mine and yours was yours. Isn’t that how political discourse (beer-related or not) should be approached these days?

    I’m not sure that instigating a beer debate between Aleheads is that remarkable a feat, but the the lengths to which we’ve gone to discuss the End of History are certainly impressive. For that, BrewDog should be lauded. But I’m still not buying any of their beer ever again. If for no other reason than to spite you.

    I notice you’re playing the part of Jefferson to a tee. Championing “the people” whilst sipping a cocktail on your lounge chair in the Cape? Nice. Although, I’m fairly certain TJ’s missives never ended with the cryptic phrase “Sent from my iPhone”.

    Enjoy the vacation. Tell Sally Hemings I said hello.

    Not sent from my iPhone since my cell-phone doesn’t even take goddamn pictures. Piece of shit.

    1. The Baron does not claim to be a man of the people, my dear Brother Barley. He merely claims to be a man for the people.

      Sent from my iPhone

  7. Sweeneyphi · · Reply

    Poor barley Mchops you live in a shitty shitty state. Once you have craft brews that pop up, they are a natural local interest that state gov’t will love to protect. Also, that was hilarious drunken iphone banter, bravo. And yes Giamatti will play you in the miniseries unfortunately he will frequently refer to his love a pinot and his hate for merlot….and you will be deeply confused.

  8. As long as Steve Buscemi plays the Baron, I’m happy.

  9. […] BrewDog’s The End of History: I believe that we’ve talked about this one quite enough. Cutting edge beer marketing? Or sullen teen's […]

  10. drunken moose,drunken,alcohol…

    […]IN DEFENSE OF BREW DOG’S “THE END OF HISTORY” « ALEHEADS[…]…

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