A Tokyo Story
You can get your paws on some Tokyo* here:
Back in June 2008 we brewed a 12% Imperial Stout called Tokyo. It was a little over a year since BrewDog had started and Martin & I were both bright eyed, busy tailed and had no idea the furore that this beer was about to cause. Looking back it is pretty amazing the controversy that ensued from brewing a 12% beer, but the UK beer scene was very different even back in 2008.
We based the beer on a 1980s computer game we had played in Japan’s capital and added some cranberries, jasmine and some cool oak chips to the brew. The media went crazy when we launched this beer:
The Portman Group banned the beer, public health bodies went into prohibition overdrive and I was even grilled by a zealous newsreader on C4 news.
Jack Law, Chairman of Alcohol Focus Scotland protested that ‘It is utterly irresponsible to bring out a beer which is so strong.’
In July 2009 Tokyo came back. This time as Tokyo* and at 18.2% - the strongest beer ever brewed in the UK at that time.
Cue more media melt down caused by people completely ignorant as to the industry they were trying to police. More wild accusations stated that BrewDog were responsible for binge drinking which in our eyes were made as much sense as blaming a Michelin star restaurant for an obesity epidemic.
Richard Dinwoodie of the Rake leapt to our defence in the media ‘The focus on this one special beer is utterly spurious, just a case of pandering to binge drinking mania. This is just sensationalism and scaremongering of the worst kind.’
We felt a little bit hard done by with the onslaught of mass hysteria, consensual hallucination and nailing of BrewDog to the stake which surrounded Tokyo*. The beer took such a hammering in the media we decided to stage a liquid protest and brewed a 0.5% beer, suitably titled Nanny State.
Tokyo* also had a hard time of it in the USA. The American authorities in their infinite wisdom thought that calling the beer Tokyo* (despite the fact it said ‘Product of Scotland’ on the label’) would ‘confuse American consumers as to the beer’s geographic origin’. So we had to change the name of the beer to Tokio* for the US market. Seriously.
Despite all this, the beer is still going strong and it is a beer we brew all year round. You can find it on tap in our bars, on our online shop and in specialist bottle shops in the UK and all around the world.
Looking back it is easy to forget how different the UK beer market was in 2008. If you launched a 12% beer today nobody would blink. Back then, you could have been forgiven for thinking that we had single handedly caused the downfall of Western civilisation.