Poppy Appeal


A field of California Poppy by Tianna9 on flickr

BrewDog’s Dogma has some intense flavors, ever shifting. In the label’s words it’s a “conspiracy of transcontinental ingredients” which includes guarana, California poppy, kola nut and Scottish heather honey.

The first time I had this beer it was called Speedball.  There was the ridiculous controversy, created by the Portman Group, around the name which refers to a drug cocktail of cocaine and heroin.  I didn’t especially like the beer– dominated as it was by a sharp, mineral tang.   Speedball has a new name (It’s now sold in the UK under its original US name, Dogma) and there’s an extra .7% (originally 7.1 now 7.8%) alcohol just to make things interesting.

I’m not a big fan of honey beers but there is no cloying here– all that’s left of the honey is an earthy tinge and the heather of course.  I can taste that clearly, and it’s the most loveable note. The flower is quite present in the nose and there is a sour, bread-crust finish.  There are elements in this beer I can’t taste- like the poppy seed.  I can summon the kola nut if I try but it is mixed up with the malt.  Having never had guarana, I couldn’t tell you if I’m tasting it. There is a profound bitterness at the back of this beer that isn’t hops.  Maybe that’s the fruit?

Is this beer caffienated? It may very well be– as I near the halfway point I feel vaguely irritable, as if I’ve had too much coffee.  I’ve never had an energy drink; I’m a downer girl at heart.

Have you ever driven through a field of California poppies?  (Of course you were driving, it’s LA.)– there’s nothing Flanders Fields about it– no brave larks or torch passed.  It’s amnesiac Cali where everything is 15 minutes away and a few years old.  The poppy sea dazzles the sun.

Have you ever taken a little coach through a narrow country road cutting through a moor furred with heather, and the fog rolls in so that you see nothing for a moment? You might as well be in a cloud in the sky if it weren’t for the sheep ambling from the tarmac.

Eventually you have to choose between the two and you do, forever after feeling a bit of impatience with in-between things.  Dogma is a limbo beer, too close to home. Though as long as it’s a quid at Sainsbury’s, I’ll be drinking it.

A field of Scottish heather

A field of Scottish heather

11 Responses

  1. A quid!? I paid three kidneys and a nut in Denmark and felt I got good value.

    • I know! I go in there every couple of days to stock up– I don’t know if there’s been some mistake or what? They were also selling Hardcore IPA for a pound. I bought all I could carry.

    • Where did you get the third kidney?

      • Just behind the small intestine.

        • Beer blogger by day, harvester of mutant organs by night.

          • Also available for children’s parties.

  2. Guarana is caffeinated — about twice as much as coffee beans! You may not be tasting it but you’re feeling it!

    • Hey Carolee! That’s what I was thinking! Have you ever tasted guarana? Is it very tart and almost like lingen berries or something?

      • I have tasted tea made with guarana powder in it. I think it was one of those herbal experiments from college, so it’s been a while — and at the time I didn’t realize that I might as well have brewed some black tea for the same effect. But I remember the guarana tea had a very tart flavor, dry, turning to bitter that stuck in the back of my throat. I think I’d much rather try this poppy/honey beer — it sounds a lot tastier!

        • Maybe it was the guarana then– there was a very strange bitterness that, as you say, stuck in the back of the throat. The beer was tasty but not their best!

  3. Also available for children’s parties.
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

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