BrewDogging #13: Zeitgeist

There's a BrewDog beer described on its label as 'Zeitgeist in a bottle'. But it's not this one*. In fact the Zeitgeist bottle is rather un-BrewDog like, their usual iconoclasm giving way to some natty ovine illustrations.

It's a beer I had at the Nottingham beer festival last year and couldn't quite put my finger on why I liked it. And I've also enjoyed a long lunch on the stuff at my local, the landlord telling me though that he couldn't sell it as a 'black lager'. Dark beer lovers were mistrusting of lager, he said; lager drinkers were mistrusting of dark beer.

By the time I finished my fourth pint, I'd begun to work out why Zeitgeist works well - it's a just-so beer. Just sour enough to be balanced out by some slight, leafy hops. Just roasty enough to be interesting. Just light enough to be quaffable. Just different enough to leave you wanting another one.

So I was eager to try Zeitgeist from a bottle. First up was one of the prototype bottles from 2008 and I was taken aback. It had a fantastic fresh flavour, freshly singed toast and a really light body, none of that lactic sourness of the cask version. Hops were rolling onto the palate too, yet it remained a bright-tasting, well-balanced beer. The retail version felt fairly thin by comparison, still plenty of roasted notes with dry nuttiness coming through, though the lighter body seemed to whip away the flavours before they had a chance to develop.

Does Zeitgeist live up to its name? Does it embody the spirit of our time? Is it perhaps a reflection of our confused culture, one with an identity in crisis? Is the beer's true nature almost negated by labelling it? As the beer's own website puts it, is it truely a beer for those whose destiny is not "the slaughterhouse of conformity". Or is that all bollocks?

It's lager, but it isn't. It's trendy, but it isn't. It's different, but in the same BrewDog way. It's everything you want it to be without knowing exactly what you want. Perhaps it is a zeitgeist after all.

* that beer is one I haven't got around to reviewing yet. Any guesses?


  1. is that a hot water bottle at the back?

    i too remember trying the zeitgeist on the 2008 prototype case, not found it on cask yet - we don't tend to get many brewdog beers round here unless in bottles.

  2. I found Zeitgeist very disappointing. Crap, in fact. Not a patch on a decent European dark lager.