The Global Aspect of Alterno-beer

Detail from a sign reading Praha, Prague, Praga, Prag.

Zak Avery’s lat­est blog post touch­es on the links between British and Amer­i­can brew­ing and how that has con­tributed to a ‘craft beer cul­ture’. (The penul­ti­mate para­graph is par­tic­u­lar­ly per­cep­tive.)

Ear­li­er this week, we set about try­ing to iden­ti­fy key turn­ing points in the devel­op­ment of what we’re call­ing (for the moment) an ‘alter­no-beer cul­ture’ in the UK and, although we pon­dered the issue of cul­tur­al exchange, weren’t able to pin­point many specifics.

Sure­ly, though, the devel­op­ment of cheap trans-Atlantic flights from the sev­en­ties onwards; the open­ing up of Prague after the fall of Com­mu­nism; and the birth of Brus­sels as a tourist des­ti­na­tion with the com­ing of Eurostar, must all have con­tributed to a broad­en­ing of peo­ple’s beery hori­zons.

It’s cer­tain­ly fas­ci­nat­ing how many brew­ers, from all over the world, have offi­cial biogra­phies which con­tain vari­a­tions on this sen­tence: “Their inter­est in beer had orig­i­nal­ly been fired by a vis­it to Bel­gium in 1980.” (In this case, that’s beer writer Michael Jack­son describ­ing the founders of US brew­ery Ommegang.)

Of course, the only beer that tastes bet­ter than the free stuff is that which you drink on hol­i­day, but isn’t it also nat­ur­al to take for grant­ed what you have around you? In our case, it took Ger­man and Amer­i­can beer to jolt us into real­ly appre­ci­at­ing straight­for­ward British ales, as per Zak’s Aus­tralian Chardon­nay anal­o­gy.