The BBC’s News Magazine has an interesting article, US Craft Beer: How It Inspired British Brewers, that gives an overview of the rise of craft beer in America. Despite moving New Albion Brewing from Sonoma to San Francisco, the article does get most of the history reasonably right. And it’s also nice seeing my friend Melissa Cole quoted.
But the article doesn’t really deliver on the title, which I don’t mean as a criticism per se. It’s just that it’s more about craft beer becoming “fashionable,” trendy even in Great Britain than about British brewers being inspired by our beer. Certainly some are, and by everything I’ve seen and heard, it’s happening more and more, but I’ve also talked to British brewers who are convinced that UK consumers don’t want our hoppy or extreme beers. Yet when I was at GBBF a few years ago, the American brewers section was crowded all day long for the entirety of the festival. And when I accompanied Matt Brynildson to Marston’s in Burton-on-Trent to brew a collaboration beer for the J.D. Wetherspoon chain, the brewer — a terrifically nice person — refused to put in as many hops as Brynildson’s recipe called for, and he ended up having to adjust it. Even so, it proved to be one of the most popular beers at J.D. Wetherspoon’s festival that year. So I think that British beer drinkers are more interested in American-style beers than their brewers tend to believe is the case. At least that’s my anecdotal take, anyway.
Matt Brynildson and Melissa Cole at a J.D. Wetherspoon pub in London.