In a little more than a decade, James Watt and Martin Dickie have turned their ‘punk’ beers into a billion-pound concern. And now they’ve created a ‘transatlantic IPA’ to celebrate BA’s centenary. They reveal their travel highs and how to brew a beer at 40,000 feet.
Tell us about the making of your Speedbird 100 IPA.
JW The first time we made the beer was on a 787 Dreamliner. To celebrate the partnership with British Airways and to do something different that had never been done before, we made the first batch at 40,000 feet.
MD It was a super fun project. When you’re at altitude in a pressurised environment, your senses don’t work quite as they should. It’s like a 30 percent reduction in your sweet and salt tastes. So the key things are that the bitterness and fruit flavours aren’t really affected. So we focused on a slightly hazy pale ale, 4.5%, and then loaded that with really punchy, fruity hops to have that really nice citrus forward flavour to it.
How does it feel to be BA 100 Heroes?
JW That’s the first time anyone’s asked us that. First and foremost I’m so excited about working with BA. I spend almost as much time on BA flights as I do at home because we do so much business internationally and I always fly BA. And from a selfish perspective I’m very excited to be able to drink a beer that I love on BA flights.
What was your favourite travel experience?
JW I went to San Diego when we’d just started sending our beers to America, so to see our beers for sale in the epicentre for the kind of beers we make was an amazing moment.
MD Going to Las Vegas to get married. We took the estimated cost of inviting a few hundred people to our wedding and just spent it on a holiday for ourselves in Las Vegas.
Which country most sticks out in your memory?
JW I love going to Japan , which is a big export market for us. Tokyo is an amazing city with great people and amazing energy.
MD I’ve visited most of the states in America. There are so many cool places all over the country.
What is your go-to travel hack or packing tip?
JW When you get to somewhere, drink one beer and one coffee for each hour of time difference. Which means if you’re going to Tokyo, it’s eleven beers and eleven coffees on your first day. Beats jetlag every time.
MD Instead of travelling with bottles of beer, travel with cans of beer. They’re way less likely to break.
Where are your top places in the UK?
JW Edinburgh is a phenomenal city. And any island off the west coast of Scotland to chill out.
MD Skye is an incredible place. And Aberdeenshire is a great place for outdoor activities. There are beaches, hills for cycling and walking, and it’s not as wet as people think!
Where is your favourite London hangout for a drink and dinner?
JW Som Saa, which is a phenomenal Thai restaurant in Spitalfields.
MD I would say our Tower Hill bar , which has an amazing beer list, great food and a brewery.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for BrewDog?
JW We’ve projected ourselves 80-feet high, naked onto the Houses of Parliament, we’ve made a beer underneath the surface of a frozen lake in Michigan, we’ve driven a tank through the streets of London, we’ve packed a 55% beer in taxidermy…
MD …and made a beer on a 787 Dreamliner.