Wednesday, 20 March 2013


‘Speakeasy’ is a word used to describe London bars more often than the words ‘idiot’, ‘prick’, and ‘get out of my house’ are used to describe me. I won’t do Underdog the disservice of lumping them in with all the highly pedestrian suit-havens of the capital by describing it as such. It deserves better than that. Unfortunately, I’m borderline illiterate and can’t think of another way to say it’s a slightly-hidden bar under another bar.

Look, basically it’s the cocktail bar under Brewdog’s new pub in Shoreditch.

There appears to be no door policy at all when you go to the ominously cordoned-off and guarded stairs in the middle of the main bar and ask if you can visit the Underdog. I mean, they let us idiots in: genuine class-A morons who spent five minutes milling about in a corridor because we couldn’t find the door.

Once you’ve mastered getting through the actually-pretty-bloody-obvious door, stop and take in your surroundings. As you look around, much like when I look back at my behaviour over the weekend, it’s best not to ask ‘why?’. You’ll just upset yourself: 'Why are there so many dead animals? Why is there a voodoo corner? Why is there a box of hair?' At this point I wish we had some photos on this blog because I realise I’ve just made one of my favourite bars sound like the set of a Stanley Kubrick remake of the Human Centipede. It’s not. I promise it’s nice. I went there with actual women. They didn’t hate it.

I think that the disjointed lunacy of the decor can probably be attributed to the ‘I don’t give a fuck what society thinks’ attitude which permeates the entire Brewdog venture. That’s what takes it from creepy to really fucking cool; a feat I’ve never accomplished myself. Brewdog is ‘Beer for Punks’ brewed by two guys who decided to sacrifice every penny of credit available to them on the altar of ‘let’s make beer that we like more than other beer’. Brewdog is the sort of bold venture that people like me write about because we’ll never be cool enough to do something that awesome ourselves. If this is the first you’ve heard of them I strongly suggest that you Google the following:

‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin’
‘Brewdog/Speedball/Nanny State’
‘how do I get out of this box I’ve been living in for the last five years?’

Obviously I love the whole punk thing because I was once at the beating heart of the modern punk movement. That is to say I went to Rancid gig. It was raining so I wore a sensible waterproof coat and I left quite early because I lost the phone which I had recently acquired on a generous but affordable tariff which made me sad. This gave me some time to reflect on the tattoos I don’t have. Yeah I’m not a punk. Most punks are smelly and scary and fortunately this bar is neither. It just wants to be your friend.

I realise that I’ve been building this place up a lot so I’d like to take a moment to reassure you. These guys have not ‘done a Proud’ and fallen off the cool cliff into the pretentious-and-wanky pit. You won’t feel out of place because you don’t own a pair of jeans so tight that getting a semi fills you with an all-consuming dread. As I said, this bar wants to be your friend. It also, much like my beloved Camden Town Brewery, wants you to be able to drink some really delicious beer. Their beer is so delicious, in fact, that we broke House Rule #72 ('Only drink lager if it’s warm and flat and has preferably been open for a few days') and ordered a case of it.

Here’s the really good thing about Underdog. While I am perfectly happy to drink myself into oblivion on lager and IPA alone, I understand that many of you like to drink these new-fangled fancy cocktail things. This presents a problem because the cocktail tends to be to beer what responsibility and consequences are to me: an absolute fucking nemesis. Finding a good cocktail in the same establishment as a good beer is about as likely as finding Salman Rushdie sunning himself on the beaches of the Persian Gulf.

In classic Brewdog ‘fuck this noise, I’m going to sort this shit out’ fashion, Underdog has produced a range of cocktails based on beer and cider. With beer reductions and other fancy chemistry which is an absolute mystery to me going on I started to get scared and calmed myself down with another three pints of the Dead Pony Club Pale Ale. My friends that did try the cocktails were full of praise though. At least I think they were, by this stage I was hearing colours.

Brewdog themselves say the following about their bars:

‘We are not cool. We are not pretentious. We just care. And we are your friends.’

Well, Mr B. Dog, I’ll be the judge of whether or not you’re cool. I don’t know if you heard but I’m a pretty cool guy. I don’t avoid buying skinny jeans because they’re a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t just come back from a holiday in Center Parcs. I never apologised to a police dog because I couldn’t be its friend. None of those things.

Ok, I’m not even remotely cool. Underdog is. Go there.

BrewDog Shoreditch
51-55 Bethnal Green Road,
E1 6LA

0207 729 8476

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