THE DEAD PONY SESSIONS

Cataloguing our low-abv wonder

THE DEAD PONY SESSIONS

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?

UPDATE 15/04

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!

#BackInTheClub

 

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Comments (28)

Carlisle 16.04.2015 @ 1:20pm
Always Dead Pony Club - thanks for brining it back
Ben F 16.04.2015 @ 1:04pm
All that empty space next to the word Club on the label is bugging me.
Bob 15.04.2015 @ 7:18pm
DPC! DPC!

Still my favourite go to beer of all time. It's there when I just get home from work and it's there at the end of the night when I've probably had one too many.

DPC for life!
Naechance 15.04.2015 @ 7:02pm
While you're at it, put the Saint back in 5AM ;)
Shawn 15.04.2015 @ 4:13pm
Dead Pony rides again! :D I never really stopped calling it that, to be honest
Omnivoracity 15.04.2015 @ 3:03pm
@BDRich agreed, rather off-topic, but hopefully useful should the word Session find it's way into DP's branding. Yeah, local bands rather than breweries would be good too. My rates would be very reasonable should the idea be used ;)
BrewDog Rich 15.04.2015 @ 11:09am
Omnivoracity - We just wanted to get people's opnions as to where Dead Pony fits in the wider beery spectrum at the moment...but I like the idea of the musical tie-in - like a CollabFest but for music? That could work...
Omnivoracity 15.04.2015 @ 11:05am
The title of this post has given me an idea. Publicise the rebrand to a Session Pale / Session APA / Session whatever by arranging live musical performances at each BD bar, called the 'Dead Pony Sessions'. Record / stream online to reach a wide audience. Could even become a recurring event, alternating different venues quarterly. Just a thought, don't know if it's financially / logistically viable.
Fanboy Puppy Lover 15.04.2015 @ 10:13am
Dead Pony is a work of genius
Rubicon 14.04.2015 @ 7:39pm
Circa-4%, American-hopped beers in the UK are generally known as Golden or Pale Ales. So "Pale" in the US it denotes something stronger... What about "Golden" then? In a way it does come across as a bit stuffy and outdated. Tbh I think Pale Ale is fine. I've had quite a bit of Dead Pony recently and I can't say it's something I've thought about. Sierra Nevada and Stone are American so their Pale Ales are automatically APAs, which are meant to be stronger. BrewDog isn't American, and you aren't calling it American Pale Ale, so I wouldn't worry about it falling foul of the APA definition. Like you say, you aren't going for down-the-line renditions anyway.
BrewDog Rich 14.04.2015 @ 4:54pm
Will - that's also an interesting question. Punk fits within each of the BJCP statistical criteria for an American IPA, aside from a miniscule miss with IBU. It also hits all of the buttons on appearance, aroma and flavour, as well as ingredients - but we also then add Nelson Sauvin to the US hopload.

So to answer that question, in short, it pretty much does - but Punk IPA was always intended as our homage to US IPA's rather than a by-the-numbers, down the line rendition...
Kiernan Busher 14.04.2015 @ 4:25pm
Love the design on the cans
will 14.04.2015 @ 3:22pm
While we're at it, is punk really an IPA by standards set by the likes of BJCP?
BenH 14.04.2015 @ 1:56pm
I'd say it's an American hopped bitter
BrewDog Rich 14.04.2015 @ 1:53pm
Thanks for the comments everyone - keep them coming! This is an itch we couldn't scratch - it's not every day we have an existential discussion on the blog ;)
Vic 14.04.2015 @ 1:51pm
Pale Ale
Martin_H 14.04.2015 @ 1:51pm
Every answer is different! That's beer styles for you I guess
Special_K 14.04.2015 @ 1:44pm
Well, it's under the Pale Ale bracket, so Session Pale makes sense
Andre Martins 14.04.2015 @ 1:21pm
Session Imperial Half Double Pale Ale
SCEMO CHI LEGGE 14.04.2015 @ 1:09pm
I think it's a session APA
Brian Taylor 14.04.2015 @ 12:59pm
Unlike the US we have a history of ignoring styles. This is a truly superb beer and can stand on its own. In the past it may have been called a light ale in the past. Low strength, not as brown as a mild.
Normski 14.04.2015 @ 12:42pm
Would possibly argue that you'd need the American influence to be named as such - as it's clearly based on that rather than an English pale. American session ale?
Rambo Baby 14.04.2015 @ 12:32pm
Helps to have some kind of style in there, definitely :)
Nathan 14.04.2015 @ 12:28pm
If you can have Session IPA and Session Stout, then Session Pale Ale fits. Session it up
Your Name 14.04.2015 @ 12:26pm
DPC has been a go-to since it launched. It's definitely a Pale Ale in my eyes - maybe a MidAtlantic Pale?
Jvive 14.04.2015 @ 11:33am
Love Dead Pony - whatever it's called - :)
Ace 14.04.2015 @ 11:32am
God, those cans look enticing
Dan_Betts 14.04.2015 @ 11:31am
Well, it's definitely session-strength - unlike all those US beers over 5%! Also, Founders do a Session Stout at 5%, I don't know what we would call that over here - a mild, I guess