While Ron and Al take a little break, please enjoy this guest post from Bailey of boakandbailey.com, based in London.
It’s still comparatively rare to see American beer in bars and pubs in London. Almost every place now has at least one Belgian beer, even if it’s only Leffe, whilst some of the best places don’t have any American beer at all. There are some places with a bigger selection — the Rake at London Bridge, for example — but they’re few and far between.
This is a bit odd, given that beer enthusiasts are more-or-less united in their enthusiasm for American craft brewing — witness the scrum around the American bar at the Great British Beer Festival last month. The fact is, though, that Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic are very nearby, whereas there’s a bleedin’ great ocean inbetween Britain and America.
But don’t despair. The taste for American beer in Britain, combined with its scarcity, has led to a very welcome development. Many small British breweries are being inspired by American beer to add to their range British style ales with huge amounts of citrusy American hops. Crouch Vale‘s Brewer’s Gold and Buntingford‘s 92 Squadron are great examples, but by no means the only ones.
These beers come in a range of colours and styles, from golden ale to brown ale, but stand out from the crowd because of the use of these distinctive and refreshing hop aroma and flavour. The style where American hops are making the biggest impact, however, is IPA. Even in the UK, where fuggles or Kent goldings have been the the more traditional choices, cascades or similar are becoming a necessity — it’s just not an IPA without the intense floral, orange aroma. St Austell‘s excellent Proper Job (better in bottles than on tap) could pass for an American craft brew, thanks to the use of American hops amongst a blend of five or six others.