Generalisations about beer culture

QUICK ONE: The Young Americans

Beer bottles on shelves.
Shelves at Hops + Crafts pictured in October 2015.

A few weeks back we spoke to Chris Harper who runs Hops + Crafts, a specialist beer shop in Exeter.

Chris is an American, from Georgia, and among other things (most of which will turn up in our column in Devon Life magazine next month) he said this, shaking his head in astonishment:

I called up Northern Monk [Brew Co] to talk about buying some beer and the guy who answered the phone… He was from Georgia! From the same town! We went. To rival. High schools.

It struck us as weird back in 2013 that we could interview two Californian brewers 20 minutes apart across the Somerset Levels, and this is more of the same. (Brew Britannia, Chapter Sixteen, ‘The Outer Limits’.)

We tend to roll our eyes at people who complain about the Americanisation of UK culture for various reason, not least being that you only have to watch Brits awkwardly eating US-style barbecue at communal tables, elbows pressed to their sides, with cutlery, as we did in Bristol the weekend before last, to realise it’s not going to take.

But it does seem that a slightly higher proportion of people involved in craft beer in the UK (definition 2) are from the US than might be expected to have arisen by chance.

Maybe we ought to speak to some more people and write something longer on this.

7 replies on “QUICK ONE: The Young Americans”

There were loads of Canadians on the course when I was at Heriot-Watt but no Americans. Being able to do a masters degree in one years was a big attraction for them.

“We went. To rival. High schools.”

What’s that all about? Why the full stops in the middle of the sentence?

It’s a way of conveying the way the sentence is delivered, putting emphasis on the entire statement by slowing down and emphasising the whole thing (apart from prepositions & pronouns). I mean, you could write “We went to rival high schools“, but that would sound (a) as if the first part was delivered in a normal conversational rush (“wewentorival… high schools”) and (b) as if the speaker was stressing that they’d gone to rival high schools as opposed to rival universities, Sunday schools, Scout troops etc. “We went to rival high schools” has similar problems (as opposed to co-operative high schools?). The full stops, while they’re ungrammatical, bring a thudding emphasis down on every word in the sentence (apart from prepositions and pronouns), which gets across the intention of emphasising the entire statement. Stylistically, that kind of halting repeated emphasis – as if to say, this is what’s important, no wait this is more important, what am I saying this is the real point… – is in any case a thing; it’s a statement expecting the answer “No way!”, which itself is (in this context) a statement expecting the answer “Way!”.

Personally I’d probably write “We went to rival high schools“, but I’m a pedantic old fart.

Given one definition of UK craft scene would be ‘ breweries and beers directly inspired by the US craft scene ‘ then finding Americans Woking here in that scene would be little surprise. We’d need data rather than odd anecdotes to say if this was oddly high. Given size of breweries like monk I can’t see this as high paid work that would actually attract workers into the UK but for someone already here I can see why work attracts and why that past experience would be a great selling point at interview.

Is it really surprising to see so many people from the US in brewing when their’s is the largest brewing industry in the world? I reckon I could think of about 20 Americans in UK beer alone just off the top of my head (and I’d be happy to put you in touch with some of them if you wanted to dive deeper into this.)

It’s not just folks from the US though, UK brewing is super-international, I know Canadians, Kiwi’s, Aussies and a slew of people from various European countries working over here in beer. Kind of makes sense, good beer is all about inclusivity after all.

Not sure surprising is the word but, yeah, it’s not something we were at all aware of or expected in, say, 2012.

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