So this warm front seems to be sticking around for longer than is the norm. Beer garden or 9 holes after work weather is the technical term I believe. Tonight the beer garden won and a pint of Beavertown’s Gamma Ray washed away the stresses of the day. If you, like many, have not heard of this beer before, it is produced in North London and the brewery is owned by Logan Plant, son of Robert. Yes, the Led Zeppelin front man. Gamma Ray rocks and has played a huge part in the rise of craft beer in the U.K. Four years ago I’d have struggled to name more than a dozen or so beers. You know the ones… Carling, Bud, Peroni, Fosters, Guinness, et al. But times they are a changing.
So what is craft beer? Well I haven’t come across an official definition as I don’t think there is one but generally, it’s viewed as beer brewed by independent brewers, i.e. not owned by a large corporation brewer such as AB InBev who mass produce the likes of Budweiser, Stella and Corona. Craft beer is packaged in keg, bottles and cans and in some cases cask using quality ingredients. Styles range from india pale ales (IPA’s), pale ales and stouts to saisons, porters, gose’s, gueuze’s and yes, lagers.
With over 1700 independent brewers in the U.K., craft beer is becoming more and more visible. Look at the beer choice of some popular food chains such as Byron and it’s more Beavertown, Brooklyn and Brewdog you’ll be pairing with your burger than Carling, Corona or Carlsberg. Check the shelves of your local supermarket and you’ll see the likes of Magic Rock, Thornbridge and Northern Monk eating in to the shelf space of the big boys.
Brewdog, the biggest independent brewer in the U.K., started life like many craft brewers by home brewing in a garage on a small brew kit. 11 years later, they have over 800 employees and have been listed in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 as the fastest growing food and drinks company for a record six years in a row. They have over 30 bars in the U.K. and a further 16 worldwide. Their AGM’s see over 7000 equity punks (shareholders) converge in Aberdeen for what is effectively a beer and music festival. When I return next year, my clubs are coming with me.
So what’s so different about these beers? More flavour, more styles, quality ingredients and in my opinion, made with more love and care. Brewers often experiment with new ingredients to create weird and wonderful flavours. Ever had beer brewed with frozen pizza and money or burger and fries? They don’t all work but some just stop you in your tracks and tell you that these amazing brewers have truly mastered their art. They may be more expensive but you get what you pay for right?
If you’ve tried craft beer great. If it’s not for you great too at least you tried. If you haven’t yet or have and you’re a fan, then keep your eyes peeled for future Sunday Social posts when we’ll cover more about the different styles and make recommendations on which awesome craft beers and breweries to look out for as well as letting you know more about great real ales too.
What? You can’t wait until then? Bunker love a bit of Brewdog Elvis Juice (found in most supermarkets or your nearest Brewdog bar) as well as Gamma Ray (try Waitrose or your local independent bottle shop). Let us know what you think.
Oh, and drink responsibly.
Thanks for the post Mark. Look out for Mark’s insights on craft beer every month in the Sunday Social emails.
Follow Mark on twitter: @Markmonkeyyoung