Restaurant News & Reviews

Pintful: TV looks to Durham brewery for ‘most caloric beer’

Martin Dickie, left, and James Watt of Brew Dogs.
Martin Dickie, left, and James Watt of Brew Dogs. ESQUIRE NETWORK

To make the most caloric beer in the world, the renegade brewers behind the TV show “Brew Dogs” came to North Carolina.

“When you think about the South, you think about all the kinds of amazing foods the South’s famous for, you think the hearty appetites, you think the big dishes,” said James Watt, one of the show’s hosts. “So we wanted to do a beer that kind of stood up to those dishes ... almost make a liquid tribute to everything we like in this area.”

The challenge is the premise for one of the first episodes of the show’s second season, which is expected to start in June on the Esquire Network. And it will put the state’s beer scene in a major national spotlight.

“Brew Dogs” follows Scottish brewers Watt and co-host Martin Dickie as they visit different American cities to celebrate craft beer and make their own locally themed brew. The two are the founders of BrewDog, a Scottish brewery known for its experimental beers and crazy stunts – a theme that carries into the show. (In the Season One finale, the hosts jumped into a batch of wort with Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch to sour it with the bacteria on their bodies.)

To make the North Carolina-themed beer, the hosts partnered with Fullsteam Brewery in Durham. The focus on local ingredients led the show’s crew first to West Jefferson to visit Waterfall Farms, where they picked up a gallon of North Carolina maple syrup, and then to a couple of Durham’s foodie spots for more: Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop for 2 pounds of house cured and smoked bacon and then The Parlour for ice cream specially made for the show with Fullsteam beer.

The end result: a small batch of 12 percent imperial stout made with North Carolina maple syrup and bacon, served with a scoop of the beer ice cream and a sliver of crispy bacon.

To qualify as the most caloric beer, the hosts said it had to beat one of their own creations at BrewDog, an imperial stout called Tokyo that finished at 18 percent ABV and 525 calories per serving.

Did the North Carolina beer do it? Well, as they say, you’ll have to watch to see.

Sean Lilly Wilson at Fullsteam said it’s the first time the brewery has worked a meat into a beer. “It stretches our comfort limits,” he said. Asked whether he’d brew it again, Wilson said he wasn’t sure. “We’ll have to see how the reaction is,” he said.

A member of the TV show’s crew knew Wilson and Fullsteam’s beer, so he helped make the connection for the episode. But the reach is much broader, Wilson said, giving great exposure to the state’s craft beer industry.

“It’s not the Fullsteam show,” he said. “It’s going to be about North Carolina and especially this region.

“If you look at last year’s segments, it’s all the best beer cities,” Wilson said, listing Portland, Denver and Boston. “And it says a lot about the state’s beer culture that we are one of the first episodes of the second season.”

What I’m tasting

As part of the show, “Brew Dogs” held a tasting party at Fullsteam last week to debut the beer and it won rave reviews from the couple hundred who packed into the brewery’s cavernous space. The best way to summarize the taste: decadent, like most good Southern food. The melting ice cream made it hard to taste the stout, but together they melded nicely and balanced the salty bacon bite. Here’s to hoping Fullsteam makes the beer again – and Parlour the ice cream.