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Apr 30, 2012 09:46 AM

US Craft Beer influence on British Beer Styles.

Caught a very interesting programme about the US Craft Beer scene and how it is influencing British micro breweries. Especially the use of new hops and ageing in wine and whisky casks for flavour rather than just using them as a storage vessel.

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  1. They are also influencing Belguim Beer ! IPAs Blends and the like.

    11 Replies
    1. re: chefj

      And Italian. And German. And Japanese. And Canadian. And Mexican...

      The US craft beer scene is having a worldwide effect, no question. The naysayers are obviously missing out on something exciting that these other countries are picking up on.

      1. re: Josh

        And some of the yeasayers are following trends for sales.

        1. re: chefj

          If something's well made then its quality speaks for itself. There are companies that cynically exploit what they perceive as trends, but I don't think that applies to the small craft brewery movement.

          1. re: Josh

            You do not think that the larger companies that are doing the exploiting are inspired by the success craft movement? Then where is it coming from?
            This was not meant as a slam on the craft beer movement, though some are very poorly balanced and conceived.

            1. re: chefj

              The big companies have a difficult line to walk. Bud Light attempted to make a line of "craft" light beers a few years ago. I went to a press event for that here and met their Brewmaster responsible for the beers. I was shocked to learn that they have a 15 barrel pilot system that they use to make styles like double IPA and Imperial Stout, which they then give away to people at local bars. Their problem is that they've built their business on selling flavorless watery swill, so their customers aren't going to be interested in craft beer.

              I think they want to have their hands in it to the extent that it's a money maker, like the ownership of Goose Island, where the brewery is free to operate as they always have.

              I do agree with you that cynical products like the Cold Spring line of stuff does definitely seem to be aping smaller craft breweries.

              1. re: Josh

                I don't know what they're doing these days, but before Inbev bought them, AB made all manner of beers at their pilot brewery. You probably know Mitch Steele; he was involved with the pilot plant at one time. They used to bring out their beers for us to try on press trips to their hop farm and maltings.

                1. re: Josh

                  No sympathy from me for the Inbevs and their ilk from me. They have tons of resources (money) and for them to set up a super small batch system is skin off their nose if it does not sell. Unlike those who go out on a limb for love of the craft and product.

              2. re: Josh

                Just because craft breweries are making more flavorful beer than the big lager producers, doesn't mean they are not immune from taking advantage of current trends. IMO, there are many parallels to industrial lager makers in craft beer marketing - just that the audience doesn't believe they are being manipulated by the marketing. Collaborations, non-traditional ipa's, sours, bbl aging, expensive large bottle formats, exclusivity of limited/rare releases, etc - are all examples of craft beer marketing trends. Only a small subset of breweries seem to set the trends, others follow them.

                1. re: LStaff

                  Don't forget 4 packs for the price of a 6 pack.

                  1. re: LStaff

                    I don't agree.

                    When we see TV commercials or posters with scantily clad women promoting craft beer, maybe I'll see some parallels.

                    I also don't see how you can consider sour beer or barrel aging to be marketing driven given the significant amount of additional time and labor that goes into producing those styles.

                    I don't know how many brewers you come into contact with on a regular basis, but all the ones I know seem to be driven by their desire to prove their mettle by tackling styles that are difficult to master.

          2. I don't know who did what first, but some styles, such as Belgian IPAs, have been encouraged by the importers of Belgian beers to the US. Still an influence of craft, but brought about by a third party.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Jim Dorsch

              I'd be curious to know your source on that. The first beer I heard of in this style was Le Freak, made in San Diego by Green Flash Brewing as an experiment that people wound up liking. I don't recall if De Ranke's XX Bitter or La Chouffe Houblon pre-dated that.

              1. re: Josh

                Anecdotal (and speculative), based on my observation. As I said, I don't know the timeline, but I've noticed client breweries of importers such as B United have done some of these experiments, and I expect that some of these have come about from discussions between them. I could be wrong, as I've never asked anyone involved about how they came about.

                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                  I know more Belgian breweries are making hoppier beers, but my understanding from the brewers I've met has been that it's out of admiration for what's been done w/ IPA on the west coast of the USA. I also know that American craft beers are prized in Europe, and if you travel there with them you can make some great trades.

                  1. re: Josh

                    That may be the case; I'm just speculating. Next time I talk to an importer I'll ask about that.

                  2. re: Jim Dorsch

                    It's a pretty well known thing that importers directly influence foreign brewers to make beers they think can sell in US. Aventinus eisbock and Uerige dopplesticke are two that I know were requested to be made for the US market by its importer. When I visited Cantillon in Brussels, the owner told me that he scoffed at the request for kegs of his products, but was happy for the sales. Many belgian brewers wouldn't keg their products as bottle conditioning was preferred, but many succumbed to importer pressure when Belgian beers started to get popular in the US. BUnited is famous for these kinds of things - now they are shipping in beers in large tanks and doing their own "experiments" and racking them off into various kinds of bbls for aging.

                  3. re: Josh

                    De Ranke XX Bitter was available in the states since 2001-2 or so - and Poperings Hommelbier before that (but both predated the widespread us of the belgian ipa designation), Houblon Chouffe and Urthel Hop-it are from the 2005-6 timeframe (IIRC, Hop-It came first). I think LeFreak came out in 2007 sometime?

                    1. re: LStaff

                      OK, thanks for the info. Good to know.

                      Not sure on Le Freak. '07 sounds about right to me.

                2. I liken it to rock 'n' roll. British bands admired and came to emulate American rock and blues music, then American bands responded to British rock and so forth, to the point that it has become a very interesting cross-pollination. Give America credit for helping to revive some European styles, like British porters, German alt beer and scharzbier and Belgian geuze. We probably consume more of those beers here than the English, Germans or Belgians do

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: chuckl

                    Yes, and in the '60s the British consumed more blues than we did in the US. Good analogy.

                    1. re: chuckl

                      I love it. So does that make BrewDog the Beatles?

                      1. re: Insidious Rex

                        They might be the UK's answer to the Tubes.