No American beer in London, but lots of American hops

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.

The most common brands are Brooklyn Lager and Anchor Steam, which are turning up in corner shops and supermarkets as well as pubs, bars and restaurants. Goose Island IPA is becoming more common, too.

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.

11 thoughts on “No American beer in London, but lots of American hops

  1. just not an IPA without the intense floral, orange aroma

    Couldn’t disagree more – it might be an American IPA, but it ain’t a British one, which should use British hops.

  2. I was just gonna say. British IPAs have that lovely cuddly warmth, whereas the Americans go for the breezy citrusness. Both brilliant when done well, but two rather different beer styles, I think.

  3. Oh, now, look what’s happened. You’ve gone and forced me to think about what I’ve written.

    I take both your points, and it’s obviously a bit daft to say “just not an IPA without the intense floral, orange aroma” when what I mean is that’s what *I’m* looking for* in an IPA. I think there’s a new style somewhere in the middle — the transatlantic IPA, if you like — which is becoming more common, and which I like.

    I find purist English IPAs a bit less interesting, I think, but that might just be that I haven’t found the right English IPA to settle down with yet.

    Any suggestions…?

  4. If asked to name just one, I’d put forward Meantime’s – there’s a fantastic apricot rush from the Goldings … and some evidence I uncovered recently, which I hope to blog about soon, says Kent hops are the authentic kind to use in a historic English IPA …

  5. Try Downton Chimera IPA. I think they stock it at Real Ale in Twickenham, or you can have it delivered from Abbey Stores in Salisbury (near the brewery).

  6. I meant to say, Thornbridge Jaipur IPA is another great English IPA. I’ve had it at the Sloaney Pony before, not sure where you can buy bottles.

  7. My friend took me to Borough Market where we found some Left Hand Milk Stout from Longmont, CO. Amazing stuff. Unfortunately, they still don’t import New Belgium products like Fat Tire or Sunshine Wheat. :( Can’t wait to get home to CO!

  8. I think it’s time to call things as they are:

    IPA = India Pale Ale = As it was originally made in Bourton for the transport to India.

    APA = American Pale Ale = The tasty brews that Yanks call IPA today.

    Dark Star have made this distinction and both are such wonderful but different beers.

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