The craft beer revolution returns to television with the Esquire Network’s new “Brew Dogs,” and the show’s crazy characters, stunts and sensationalism that cable TV demands are tempered by a strong focus on education and an earnest excitement about the beers.
Helmed by the infamous Scottish brewers James Watt and Martin Dickie, who have been brewing punk rock inspired craft beer since 2007, each episode of “Brew Dogs” will feature Watt and Dickie traveling to a new American craft beer destination to craft a brew that captures the essence of the showcased city.
San Diego was the focus of Tuesday’s premiere episode, where the impetuous brewers were joined by craft beer’s contentious champion — Stone Brewing Co.’s founder Greg Koch — in their quest to brew an IPA that would capture the essence of San Diego. The pair’s BrewDog brewery is known for stretching the limits of what craft beer can be — they have brewed one of the world’s strongest beers and one of the world’s strangest — and they took this approach to the episode’s brew as they used kelp from the San Diego coast, locally grown Moruga Scorpion chiles and Stone Farms rosemary in the beer, which they brewed on a train car attached to the iconic Amtrak Pacific Surfliner.
Between the gathering of ingredients, tasting local brews and struggles to install a brewhouse on a train car, the two hosts were shown attempting to convert “craft beer virgins” in a series of amusing vignettes — one featuring a cameo by L.A.’s own Union Station — that demonstrated the show’s commitment to proselytizing about craft beer.
Another segment that had the hosts squaring off in a competition to determine who could better pair San Diego beers to local chefs’ dishes was one of the show’s highlights, and the enthusiastic presentation of higher-level beer concepts could be the key to the show’s success.
Like a beer-centered blend of cable hits like “No Reservations,” “How It’s Made” and “Drinking Made Easy,” “Brew Dogs” should appeal — and entertain — both beer geeks and the beer curious as it strikes a rare balance between entertaining and educating. The show could be just what the craft beer movement needs to create even more devotees.