Up to this point, and from our very first DIPA release, we’ve timed releases around event dates first and foremost, in an effort to get our hoppiest beers showcased to the most people in the shortest possible time.
Here’s a list of the releases so far:
• DIPA v1 – 1st anniversary of moving into our warehouse and starting the fit out.
• DIPA v2 – 1st birthday, marking a year to the day that we started brewing.
• DIPA v3 – BrewDog’s AGM 2016.
• DIPA v4/v5 – Brewed to trial dry hopping programmes to get v6 just right for San Diego.
• DIPA v6/v7 – Modern Times’ Festival Of Dankness.
• DIPA v8 – IMBC16.
From v9 onwards we’re going to change our releases of DIPA to the first Saturday of every month (with v9 getting released on the 5th of November, v10 on the 3rd of December, etc). We’re really excited to work on getting you even fresher beer by releasing a greater proportion of DIPA for direct distribution to you from our brewery, online via Eebria, whilst also working with our distribution and retail partners to further improve existing logistics pathways.
As we’re going to switch from brewing DIPAs for events to regular monthly releases we’re going to start off with a single 72hl FV (which we’ll fill by brewing three batches back to back) devoted to this wonderful beer style. If, and only when we see solid evidence in trade of our DIPAs selling out before the next one becomes available we’ll look to devote another FV to DIPA too. Our goal is to promote the freshest hoppiest beer we can whilst having it available as often as possible.
Preempting questions about bigger batch sizes I’ll say that we devoted nearly 60% of our cellar tank capacity to v6/v7, and whilst it was wonderful to see all that beer leave our warehouse in one go we’ve seen both retailers and consumers hold onto not just v6/v7, but some of the prior versions too – largely we think this is because folk really don't want to be without a beer style they really like (which is incredibly flattering)! We think that if we release DIPAs more reliably (and frequently) we can encourage everyone that little bit more to drink them as fresh as they can, showcasing all the punchy and intense flavours as much as possible before they fade away, safe in the knowledge there's another version only a few weeks away.
Brewery Fresh – Promoting Cold Chain Distribution
The biggest advantage to releasing a greater proportion DIPA, our hoppiest beer, direct from the brewery immediately after packaging is that you’ll be able to buy beer that hasn’t been above 5ºC. After the end of fermentation our beers are crash chilled to 0ºC in FV, before being packaged as close to 0ºC from our brite tanks, and being transferred into our sub 5ºC cold store immediately after the packaging run finishes. Warmth and heat kill hoppiness (and other volatile flavour compounds) in beer, ageing and degrading it many times faster than when it’s held at a low and stable temperature. With all previous DIPA releases we have satisfied distributor and retailer orders with utmost priority, leaving ourselves short of stock to pour at events and sell direct online ourselves every time. Switching things around will allow us to lead the way in getting the freshest beer to you in the best possible condition.
Distribution partners that already or are able to preserve cold chain (storing the beer in a <8ºC cold store, rather than in a warehouse that could be conveniently cold in winter, or damagingly warm in spring, summer, and autumn) and retailers we can reach through direct delivery will take precedent over routes that see our most volatile beer warm up to ambient temperature for days or even weeks before it gets poured and consumed.
We’re going to do our bit to reflect what our peers and friends in the US do to get beer to their customers in the best shape possible. From the East Coast to the West Coast, and from some of the largest craft breweries to the smallest neighbourhood micros, hoppy beer in the US enjoys more care through cold chain distribution and direct consumption at the breweries themselves than we currently afford hoppy beer here in the UK. Whilst we recognise that the US didn’t go from an interest in craft beer to nearly every corner shop storing hoppy beer in dedicated fridges, and customers drinking beer from the brewery (where it has been kept cold since packaging) in a single day, moves towards better handling of beer started somewhere. This is our start, and we’ll work as hard as we can to help our distribution and retail partners progress as we figure out how to positively evolve together.
We are regularly asked if we’re going to drop version numbers from our DIPAs, and move to a regularly repeating recipe, or something more along the lines of an annual release. I can say that for now we have no plans to stop featuring the freshest hops, and experimenting with different malt bases, yeasts, dry hop addition timings, and more, so the versions are here to stay for the time being.
We recognise that our approach is different to other breweries that favour making the same recipe throughout the year (with either no recipe or process changes, or with undisclosed recipe and process changes), but we’re steadfast in our commitment not only to seasonality in modern beer, but complete openness and transparency with our customers. Our position is one that arises from our deepest concerns – those of making the best possible use of the most flavourful, impactful ingredients, as well as concerns that stem from wanting to be as open as we can with an ever more enthusiastic and informed consumer base.
We’re really excited to move onto having a DIPA available almost all year round, whilst staying true to our principles of putting the ingredients first, and highlighting seasonality instead of masking it.
v8 is available on Eebria, which ships direct to you from our brewery, as fresh as it gets, with distribution as wide as we can, from the little we're left with after IMBC, having started this week (once the wonderful intensity of IMBC passed).