Despite all the success of food and cooking shows, television about drinking has always been a little harder to sell. That may be, in part, because the process of producing spirits, wine and beer usually involves a lot of waiting around once the hard work is done. “Brew Dogs,” a beer-themed show on the Esquire Network, has gone a long way toward getting over that hump by injecting a spirit of adventure — and a lot of personality — into the brewing process.
The first season of the show follows James Watt and Martin Dickie of Scotland’s Brew Dog brewery as they travel around the States brewing a series of city-appropriate, “extreme” brews with local craft distillers — a solar-powered, cactus-infused meat pale ale in Denver, for example. The duo landed in Boston this summer to film an episode with Sam Adams that will air on Nov. 5.
“We did not see this as being a huge challenge, actually,” Watt says of bringing beer to life on camera. “We love beer, we love speaking about beer and we are insanely passionate about making other people as passionate about great beer as we are. We just saw the whole experience as an amazing and fun opportunity, rather than focusing on any drawbacks. That is what made the show such a great concept — we get to make beer and help get non-beer drinkers excited about craft beer in each city we visit.”
For their Boston trip, that meant getting in a hot tub full of beer with Sam Adams head Jim Koch, catching lobsters at 3 a.m. and pairing beers with some of the city’s renowned seafood.
It was Watt’s first time visiting Boston. “The city and people rock. Gritty, edgy, hard-working, but passionate and real. It reminded me a lot like being back home in Scotland. It was definitely one of my favorite cities we visited during the show.” Among his favorite stops was Lord Hobo in Cambridge, which he called “maybe the best name for a beer bar ever.”
The resulting brew was a seafood-infused Scotch ale which they brewed while sailing around the Boston harbor, with peated malts, partially soured mash, fresh lobster and clams.
“The roll of the boat definitely made it a challenge. We mounted our brewing vessels on an amazing gimbaled system, which just about kept all the boiling liquid in the tanks and ensured we did not die. The biggest challenge was cooling the wort, which we did in the sea. On the show, each brewing scenario provided its own collection of challenges — but I think our engineering team really rose to each occasion to make it work.”
Unfortunately the small-batch isn’t available to the public, but if you really want to know what it tastes like, take a page from Dickie and Watt (whose best known brew is the Punk IPA) and go out and do it yourself. Anyone got a boat and some peated malt I can borrow?