BrewDog is a Scottish craft beer brewery with an ever-expanding estate of their self-branded bars. At the time of writing, they have twenty-eight bars in the UK and sixteen internationally, including places such as Barcelona, Brussels, Helsinki, Hong Kong and São Paulo.
Each bar sticks to the same winning formula of largely BrewDog-brewed beers, with a mix of interesting guest beers.
The Shepherd’s Bush branch opened three years ago and is located close to the Goldhawk Road tube station, a short walk from Shepherd’s Bush Market.
Inside, the bar is spacious and trendy, with mood lighting and a large bar lined with beer taps.
The beers on offer are shown on large illuminated boards behind the bar. One shows BrewDog’s own standard selection while the other lists their prototype and experimental beers and the guest beers. All beers are priced around the £5 ($6.66/€5.97) mark, whether that is for a full pint, or a two-thirds, half or third of a pint for stronger brews.
Be aware though, they are not big on non-beer drinks. You might get a couple of different wines, and a boutique cola or two, but beer is what BrewDog is all about.
A limited food menu is also available. We have tried the pizzas and the chicken wings on previous visits and they were very tasty indeed and come recommended.
However, much as we love the beer and the food, we were here this time for the pinball, and BrewDog Shepherd’s Bush has four machines located at the back of the bar.
When we arrived, the machines were just being swapped over by the operator. A Simpsons Pinball Party and a Getaway were leaving, to be replaced by a Congo and a Fish Tales. They joined the existing AC/DC Premium and the UK-made Full Throttle.
All games are priced at £1 ($1.33/€1.20) per game or 3 games for £2, which seems to be standard London pricing. The games are visited by the operator frequently and any problems quickly fixed. While we were there, ColorDMD screens were being installed in AC/DC and Fish Tales.
The selection changes approximately every three months which coincides with the start of the next season of the London Pinball Selfie League which operates here and at the Four Quarters in Peckham. On certain League event days, additional machines are brought in and a fixed entry fee gets you unlimited games.
The BrewDog management and staff are very supportive of the pinballs, providing vouchers as prizes for the League and joining in the fun on event days.
In fact it’s not at all uncommon for UK BrewDog bars to feature pinball machines – something we obviously applaud – but we also wondered why this was.
So we spoke to BrewDog and they told us, “BrewDog bars allow us to put all the things we love in one place and pinball is one of them. Customers love getting their retro gaming heads on and we’re glad that people recognise our bars as a place to do this. Americana is a theme that lends itself to BrewDog and the beer we make as we take a lot of influence from the incredibly inspiring American beer scene. In keeping with this, the traditional pinball arcade fits right in. Our customers (and staff) love the pinball machines, and we love to expand our collection when new bars open.”
With the recent closure of The Pipeline bar, West London’s BrewDog Shepherd’s Bush is now the bar with the most pinballs in the capital (although nearby Chief Coffee has more pinballs). There may only be four of them, but it’s a great mix of pinball, beer and food, and – even better – it’s on our way home from work.
A final couple of words about the beer.
US readers will be pleased to know BrewDog are soon to open their US brewery and distribution centre in Columbus, OH. Also, the Shepherd’s Bush branch is one of only three BrewDog bars which has a Crowler canning facility, meaning you can take away any of their beers in a special 950ml can, which they fill and seal for you.
We’re enjoying this lovely Electric India saison as we write this review (which might explain any spelling mistakes).