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Brew Dogs' James Watt Talks About Brewing the Most Expensive Beer in the World

James Watt and Martin Dickie
James Watt and Martin Dickie
Photo: Brew Dogs

James Watt and Martin Dickie, founders of the UK's fastest growing brewery and creators of the world's strongest ale, are back with their Esquire Network series Brew Dogs. Tonight at 9 p.m., the duo teams up with Tenaya Creek Brewery to brew up the most expensive beer ever made and auction it off for Keep Memory Alive. Watt and Martin bring in an expert metallurgist to help them brew beer with gold, visit Artisanal Foods to pick up high-priced ingredients such as truffles for their beer, brew it in a high-roller suite, and then bring in show girls, impersonators and casino regulars for the tasting party. Here, Watt talks about the ingredients they used, whether he would mass brew this pricey beer and more.

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You theme each beer to a city and decided on extravagance in Las Vegas. Any ingredient out of your budget?
In Vegas we were trying to make the most expensive beer ever, so no, no ingredient was too extravagant or too expensive!  We used rare ingredients from around the world: black truffles, Tahitian vanilla beans, and saffron. We even used the rare and coveted "cat poo" kopi luwak coffee. Google it.

The bottle of beer your brewed with Tenaya Creek was auctioned for $3,500 to benefit the Keep Memory Alive Foundation. Was it your ambition to create history with the most expensive bottle of beer ever sold?
Absolutely.

The ingredients include saffron and black truffles, some bold flavors for a beer. How nervous do you get about the taste and the balance of ingredients on such a tight schedule?
Not nervous at all! We're all about experimenting with different flavors and pushing the boundaries of what beer can be. If something doesn't work, we just try again.

You consulted with a metallurgist about brewing and then topping a glass of beer with gold leaf. Is it safe to drink gold? In the trailer you chug a glass of gold flakes. Would you put steel in a Pittsburgh brew?
I can personally tell you that it is safe to drink gold, but I'm not sure about steel… I definitely don't recommend chugging it.

One review describes the final flavor as coffee aroma with flavors of toasted marshmallows, vanilla and dark chocolate. Could you see yourself marketing a Sin City brew?
The beer we made in Vegas was one of a kind — we even created a special hand-blown beer bottle for it — so marketing it or producing it on a larger scale would ruin it!

You partnered with Tenaya Creek Brewery on this story. They are expanding locally. Did you offer any advice for their business model or brewing methods?
My advice is to forget advice. Follow your passion, keep pushing the boundaries, and embrace competition.

Beer is not as synonymous with the nightlife scene in Vegas as the cocktail and liquor culture. Do you believe craft beers are making in-roads with the club crowd?
The great thing about beer is that there's a type of beer for every occasion, and there are tons of different flavors to suit different tastes. So there are definitely craft beers out there for the club crowd.  

Do you have a dream list of ingredients or methodology that you've yet to apply to an appropriate city?
I've always wanted to brew a beer in space. Maybe we'll get around to it if we're back for Brew Dogs Season 3!
· All Coverage of Tenaya Creek Brewery [~ELV~]

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