THE DEAD PONY SESSIONS
Cataloguing our low-abv wonder
Dead Pony Pale Ale is our second best-selling beer; only our flagship IPA stands on a higher step of the BrewDog popularity podium (or it would, if we had one). First brewed at the start of 2012, it came about because we wanted to bring out a beer that showcased US hops, yet at a slightly lower abv. When it appeared, it very quickly became a firm favourite amongst BrewDog fans and our brewteam alike – not that we expected anything else from a 3.8% hop bomb!
Yet, despite the plaudits, we’ve never really been able to quantify what the beer actually is.
As we approach the third anniversary of its release, Dead Pony still feels a little like it has an identity crisis. Part of this could be due to the occasional shuffling of the names. We ran a competition prior to its debut release and the eventual name chosen – Dead Pony Club – metamorphosed out of one of the suggestions, Dead Head Pony Club. We ran with DPC for a couple of years, before changing things up with our packaging refresh last summer.
With a change of label, we simplified the name to Dead Pony Pale Ale. As with Five AM, we wanted to restructure a couple of our Headliners to better reflect what was inside the bottle. The contents had not changed – only the last word of the beer name. Adding the style to the beer name makes it easier for people to make an informed choice in the bar or bottle shop as to something they might like; and therefore, hopefully give them a better beer drinking experience.
But is it really a pale ale?
Well, if you head over to your nearest beery library and thumb through a book of style guidelines; probably not. Whilst being untypically hop-forward for an English Pale Ale, Dead Pony doesn’t really fit into the American Pale Ale bracket either. By the BJCP definition these beers run to between 4.5% and 6% abv – so Dead Pony scurries well underneath the lowest limit of this scale. This is fair enough; it was never intended to be an equivalent of something like Stone Pale Ale or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
What Dead Pony was intended to be was a massively dry-hopped citrus-bomb, only under 4% abv. Speaking of beermaking over the pond, one of the biggest changes there in terms of styles over recent years has been the sudden prevalence of session IPA’s. Led by the truly epic Founders All Day IPA, this proto-style has become something pretty much every US craft brewery has rushed to produce. Yet Dead Pony doesn’t really fit in here, either. Ironically, it’s simply not strong enough (All Day IPA is 4.7%).
So, what the heck is it?
Well, we think of Dead Pony as something slightly different; taking pointers from several of these different types of beers, into a new style. Packed with American hops, it’s not traditional enough for an English Pale Ale. But at 3.8% it slots into place well under the Pale or India Pale Ale style spectrums. We like to think of it, instead, as a Session Pale Ale. Cataloguing beers is difficult enough as it is – so we think this new way of looking at Dead Pony is the best compromise; the best fit.
We’d love to hear your thoughts, however – what style do you think Dead Pony falls into? How would you categorise it?
After a huge amount of feedback on the blog and social media, we've taken everything on board (even the little-known 'Session Imperial Half Double Pale Ale' category) and have made a decision. So, coming soon, the return of Dead Pony Club, our Session Pale Ale...
Thanks for all your comments and thoughts!