The Most Important British Craft Beers?

British beer bottle cap.

In response to an article listing ‘The 25 Most Important American Craft Beers’ Michael Lally at Bush Craft Beer has challenged his readers to think about what might be on a Brit-centric version of that list:

I think we can define ‘craft’ rel­a­tive­ly loose­ly and ‘impor­tant’ in a sim­i­lar way to our US col­leagues: It’s one that either changed con­sumer tastes or how brew­eries approach mak­ing beer. There are a few obvi­ous ones: Punk IPA by Brew­dog, Jaipur by Thorn­bridge, ESB by Fullers.

There’s a sur­vey you can respond to includ­ing space to make your own sug­ges­tions but here’s some food for thought from us.

1. Traquair House Ale (1965)

Arguably the very first ‘micro­brew­ery’ was Traquair House which com­menced pro­duc­tion in 1965. It demon­strat­ed that it was pos­si­ble for small brew­eries to be opened despite pre­vail­ing indus­try trends, and also that small inde­pen­dent brew­eries could often do more inter­est­ing things than their bit­ter- and lager-focused Big Six peers – this beer was (and is) at a hefty ABV and very rich.

2. Litchborough Bitter (1974)

Anoth­er brew­ery with a strong claim to being the first micro­brew­ery was Bill Urquhart’s Litch­bor­ough based in the vil­lage of that name near Northamp­ton. The beer itself does­n’t seem to have been espe­cial­ly excit­ing but the busi­ness mod­el, and Mr Urquhart’s mentoring/consultancy, direct­ly inspired the micro­brew­ery boom that fol­lowed.

3. Penrhos Porter (1978)

Porter went extinct; Michael Jack­son talked it up in his 1977 World Guide to Beer; Pen­rhos brought it back. Porter is now one of the quin­tes­sen­tial ‘craft’ styles – what you brew if you want to send a sig­nal about his­to­ry and her­itage, and that you’re more less main­stream than Guin­ness.

SOURCE: David Bruce.
4. Firkin Dogbolter (1979)

This is the icon­ic house brew of David Bruce’s Firkin chain – a strong ale that gave the chain its cult rep­u­ta­tion and which was the anti­dote to the earnest rev­er­ence of the real ale move­ment. Today Gad­d’s makes a beer of this name based on a lat­er recipe and West Berk­shire Brew­ery, with which David Bruce is involved, brews a trib­ute called Firkin Ale. (DISCLOSURE: Mr Bruce insist­ed on send­ing us a case even though we don’t take sam­ples these days; it’s extreme­ly good, in a fruit-cakey way.)

5. Franklin’s Bitter (c.1980)

As far as we can tell this was the first UK beer to fea­ture – that is, to make a virtue of – the dis­tinc­tive aro­ma and flavour of Amer­i­can Cas­cade hops. There’s more on Sean Franklin below.

6. Hop Back Summer Lightning (1987)

This beer, orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived as a lager, kicked off a craze for gold­en ale and inspired the cre­ation of ‘pale and hop­py’. It is still avail­able.

SOURCE: West Coast/Dobbins/The Grist, 1993.
7. West Coast Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (1989)

North­ern Irish brew­ing genius Bren­dan Dob­bin shame­less­ly cloned Sier­ra Neva­da Pale Ale until SN asked him to change the name when it became Yaki­ma Grande Pale Ale. A huge influ­ence on a gen­er­a­tion of hop­head brew­ers and drinkers. (Con­wy Brew­ery cur­rent­ly pro­duce a ver­sion of this beer with Dob­bin’s involve­ment.)

8. Rooster’s Yankee (c.1992)

Sean Franklin left brew­ing for a bit and then came back with a bang, inspired by Sum­mer Light­ning to pro­duce a very pale, super-hop­py, Amer­i­can-accent­ed ale that knocked enthu­si­asts for six. Mr Franklin hand­ed over the reins of the brew­ery to Tom and Ol Fozard a few years ago but they still pro­duce Yan­kee today.

9. Freedom Lager (1995)

Work­ing with a wealthy investor Alas­tair Hook brewed what would become the first real­ly suc­cess­ful home-grown design­er lager, beget­ting his own Mean­time brew­ery (1999–2000) as well as much lat­er (but quite direct­ly) Cam­den Hells. A ver­sion is avail­able today but it’s brewed in a dif­fer­ent city, to a dif­fer­ent recipe, by dif­fer­ent peo­ple.

Detail from Jaipur pump clip c.2007.
Detail from Jaipur pump clip c.2007.
10. Thornbridge Jaipur (2005)

Though not the first UK-brewed Amer­i­can-style IPA Jaipur was, by our reck­on­ing, the first such beer to be made its brew­ery’s flag­ship prod­uct. Co-cre­ator Mar­tin Dick­ie would go on to co-found Brew­Dog whose Punk IPA was ini­tial­ly a very sim­i­lar beer. Jaipur is very much still avail­able.

11. Dark Star Saison (c.2009)

Was this the first UK-brewed sai­son? Please tell us below if you know oth­er­wise. Hon­est­ly, we can’t say for sure how influ­en­tial it was – most UK brew­eries mak­ing sai­son went to the source (Dupont) or were inspired by US brew­eries. It appears to be out of pro­duc­tion right now.

12. Moor Unfined Revival (2011)

A bit ten­ta­tive, this one – it’s hard to name a spe­cif­ic beer and pin down the date – but we reck­on this is the first unfined pale beer to end up in main­stream pubs, thus kick­ing off the furi­ous bick­er­ing over beer clar­i­ty still under­way today. It is still avail­able today.

13. Beavertown Gamma Ray (2012)

We’re a bit unsure about includ­ing this one, too, but we think it gets the credit/blame for the now ubiq­ui­tous rough-hazy-oniony pale ales that so many point­ed­ly hip brew­eries pro­duce.

14. Wild Beer Co Ninkasi (2013)

Their beers can be vari­able and (ahem) chal­leng­ing but this one always impress­es us and is the ear­li­est exam­ple we’re aware of a British beer that isn’t quite a beer, being a cider-wine-sai­son hybrid. We think we see its influ­ence in var­i­ous such Big Bot­tle brews with odd fruit addi­tives and expect to see more in years to come.

15. Buxton/Rooie Dop Ring Your Mother (2015)

One that we sus­pect oth­ers might over­look: with a his­toric recipe and mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ty this beer kicked off a small resur­gence in the brew­ing of mild. Kind of. It seems to be re-brewed only occa­sion­al­ly.

* * *

We could prob­a­bly keep going – this isn’t a com­pre­hen­sive list of every influ­en­tial beer ever, and it’s cer­tain­ly not every inter­est­ing beer – but fif­teen will do for now.

Don’t for­get to com­plete Michael’s sur­vey!

55 thoughts on “The Most Important British Craft Beers?”

    1. In real­i­ty, its pret­ty much a one beer list. The num­ber of peo­ple who first “got into craft beer” after try­ing a bottle/can/pint of punk must be enor­mous.

      I remem­ber the buzz around in back in 2009/2010 – every­one else would be drink­ing lager, and then one per­son would turn up at a house par­ty with a 4 pack of Punk IPA and the whole par­ty would try a bit and talk about it for 20 min­utes. I’ve nev­er seen any­thing like it.

      1. Py – as we said on Twit­ter, there’s a ten­den­cy for peo­ple to con­fuse beers that were impor­tant to them, at a cer­tain time, with beers that were impor­tant in some objec­tive sense. Not sure if we’re maybe a bit old­er than you but the sto­ry you’ve told there we could tell only with Deuchar’s IPA subbed in for Punk. (Maybe that should be on our list.)

        We don’t shy away from big­ging up Brew­Dog – it’s a tremen­dous­ly impor­tant brew­ery – but the Pub Cur­mud­geon is right, we made a delib­er­ate choice to omit it here because, as an indi­vid­ual beer, we can’t see that it did much that Jaipur had­n’t already done a cou­ple of years before.

        1. Now I like this blog and I respect your opin­ion, but in this you’re way off. Punk IPA is the most impor­tant beer of the last 25 years, by some dis­tance.

          This is very much a nerd’s list, writ­ten from the heart of the craft bub­ble. Most peo­ple who weren’t inter­est­ed in real ale or craft beer (which is 95% of the pub­lic) would nev­er have heard of any of these beers. Jaipur might have made a few waves amongst peo­ple who were already inter­est­ed in beer and enthu­si­as­tic ale drinkers, but it was Punk that real­ly cap­tured the atten­tion of the wider pub­lic and launched craft beer into the main­stream. There is noth­ing sub­jec­tive in this – the facts speak for them­selves.

          Going back to your def­i­n­i­tion:

          I think we can define ‘craft’ rel­a­tive­ly loose­ly and ‘impor­tant’ in a sim­i­lar way to our US col­leagues: It’s one that either changed con­sumer tastes or how brew­eries approach mak­ing beer.”

          Punk changed con­sumer tastes (and coin­ci­den­tal­ly, the way brew­eries mar­ket­ed beer, if not the way they brewed it) more than all the oth­er beers put togeth­er.

          1. This is very much a nerd’s list, writ­ten from the heart of the craft bub­ble.’

            Yes, we are nerds, but this is point­ed­ly not a nerds-only list. Sum­mer Light­ning is hard­ly obscure, is it? Jaipur’s not obscure either – it’s been in super­mar­kets for more than a decade and was in (gen­er­al­i­sa­tion) every news­pa­per round-up of great beers from 2005–2010.

            But if you want a real­ly out­side-the-bub­ble list:

            1. Doom Bar
            The biggest sell­ing cask ale in the UK and the one that most often gets men­tioned to us when we talk to non-geeks about beer. As a beer, pret­ty bor­ing, but where many peo­ple have found their entry-point.

            2. Deuchar’s IPA
            In every pub in the coun­try c.2001; very pale; dis­tinct­ly hop­py (not any more); and the first IPA many peo­ple had tried that was­n’t brown.

            3. Trib­ute
            A com­plete­ly pale ale (c.1999) which has tak­en US hops and Ger­man-style malt into pubs, super­mar­kets, trains and hotel bars up and down the coun­try.

            I’d men­tion some lagers but none of the real­ly impor­tant and influ­en­tial ones (Per­oni, Stel­la) aren’t British. (T&Cs apply.)

            (And, more gen­er­al­ly, I’m pret­ty well done with the ‘every­one but me is in a bub­ble’ argu­ment which seems to be the full stop on every con­ver­sa­tion about any­thing at the moment. I’m from a small town, I live in a small town, my par­ents live in a vil­lage, I lived in Lon­don for ten years, I go on hol­i­day to places like Bolton and Dud­ley – how much more out of the bub­ble do I need to get?)

          2. You write about beer for a liv­ing, as does your part­ner? Your lives revolve around beer in a way that very few peo­ple’s do. No bad thing, but that’s pret­ty deep into the bub­ble.

            To be fair, you’re not as bad as some com­menters, who are mem­bers of CAMRA, seem to socialise almost entire­ly with oth­er mem­bers of CAMRA, com­menters on their own blog, or oth­er blog­gers of a sim­i­lar age and view­point, and then accuse oth­er peo­ple of being “in a bub­ble”.

            I get the feel­ing that for many peo­ple here, beer is their #1 or 2 inter­est, if not their pro­fes­sion. They think about it, talk about it, read about it, write about it all day, every day, with oth­er peo­ple of a like mind – no bad thing, but it does expose you to a kind of group think.

            Where­as beer and pubs prob­a­bly just about sneak into my top 10 inter­ests. My part­ner does­n’t like beer, I’m not a CAMRA mem­ber, and none of my friends are real­ly inter­est­ed in beer beyond “that was a nice beer, what was it called again?”.

          3. Man alive… Only in 2017 would the fact that we think a lot about beer and some­times get paid to write about it some­how our make our opin­ions *less* valid…

          4. @py – for some­one who claims that beer only just creeps into their top ten inter­ests, you spend an awful lot of time com­ment­ing on beer blogs.

          5. The clos­er you get to some­thing, the more you see the detail, the less you see the per­spec­tive, and the more your under­stand­ing of “impor­tant” is going to dif­fer from some­one look­ing from the out­side in.

          6. I think peo­ple in this coun­try have had enough of these so-called beer experts. py def­i­nite­ly los­es a point* for that segue from ‘expert’ to ‘group­think’.

            *Or, if you pre­fer, gains one.

  1. Depends how far back you go and what you can define as craft. I’d add, in rough­ly chrono­log­i­cal order, Bur­ton Ale, Froach and Umbel Mag­ma.

    1. We got a bit of crit­i­cism for over­look­ing Fraoch and Williams Bros in the book but, hon­est­ly, we could­n’t say that we saw it had much influ­ence – there weren’t loads of oth­er heather beers in its wake, as far as we could tell. But we did give a chap­ter over to that gen­er­al mid-1990s trend (of which Umbel was part) to put herbs, spices, fruit, etc., into oth­er­wise fair­ly straight cask ales and bot­tled bit­ters. If we had to pick one beer to be emblem­at­ic of all that, it might well be Fraoch, which was after all a huge brand at the time, espe­cial­ly in the wake of Mel Gib­son’s post-Brave­heart endorse­ment…

      1. I would­n’t say Froach exact­ly respon­si­ble for a slew of Heather flavoured beer, but I think the broth­ers must have been the first brew­ers to com­mer­cial­ly try non-stan­dard ingre­di­ents, in the UK at least? Sure­ly that must count as an impor­tant inno­va­tion at least, I can’t think of any sim­i­lar attempts pre­dat­ing them?

        1. They weren’t quite the first (there was even one bloke doing it c.1980 and oth­ers c.1990) though their beer was cer­tain­ly the most suc­cess­ful. But, any­way, being the first to do some­thing is only impor­tant if oth­er peo­ple copy you, and we just don’t think peo­ple did. When weird stuff *did* start turn­ing up in beer on a grand scale, it was because peo­ple had seen Amer­i­can and Bel­gian brew­eries doing it, not off the back of Williams Bros. (Actu­al­ly, maybe there was a small streak of WB inspired stuff – St Austel­l’s Cloud­ed Yel­low might be one, St Peter’s weird­er stuff. But it does­n’t amount to much.)

          1. Maybe not UK wide, but if you look at the ear­ly spe­cial­i­ty ales, there’s a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of Scot­tish brew­ers rep­re­sent­ed, espe­cial­ly for the num­ber of those that exist­ed at the time. Not sure if it was because there was so lit­tle indige­nous styles left to stick with, but there was a rea­son­able amount of exper­i­men­ta­tion going on, not as weird and won­der­ful as now cer­tain­ly, but nobody was real­ly using say, oat­meal, pre­vi­ous­ly to my knowl­edge. Cer­tain­ly nobody else was using sea­weed, and I think Alba might have been the first real­ly pine‑y beer I ever tast­ed.
            I’d reck­on Hoe­gaar­den was the major cat­a­lyst for flavour­ing beers over here though, first spiced beer to get per­ma­nent bar space in main­stream pubs.

      2. I think that if Punk is the Bea­t­les, then (con­fus­ing­ly) Fraoch is Anar­chy in the UK. It’s impor­tant not because it inspired a heap of clones, it’s a com­plete out­lier, but it changed mind­sets about what beer was, and that in turn opens up the cre­ative space for very unre­lat­ed styles of beer, in the same way that the Pis­tols helped open the door for the Human League or Gary Numan.

        More recent­ly, Titan­ic Plum Porter seems to be influ­enc­ing a whole raft of dark slight­ly sweet beers with a hint of fruit, more so than Ninkasi (great beer though the lat­ter is).

        Obvi­ous­ly it depends on your def­i­n­i­tion of craft, but the two beers that stick in my mind for friends prac­ti­cal­ly forc­ing them down me in their excite­ment to spread the word were a lit­tle Cor­nish micro­brew in the mid 90s called Doom Bar, and Punk IPA.

        I think you could also make an argu­ment for anoth­er small micro­brew, Black Sheep. That’s the one that sticks in the mind in the Amer­i­can craft sense of “stick­ing it to Big Beer” before Brew­dog and help­ing open up the wider mar­ket to the whole idea of guest beers from small brew­eries.

        I think you’re over­stat­ing the mild thing in that it is still brewed in sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties in some parts of the coun­try, so mild does­n’t need to be “owned” by the craft mob – it already has its equiv­a­lent of Dupont or Can­til­lon still going in its home ter­ri­to­ry.

        I’d be tempt­ed to throw Cam­den Hells into the mix just for the way they’ve man­aged to get a British lager onto so many bars.

  2. ESB???? Love it, obvi­ous­ly, but an ‘obvi­ous’ exam­ple of a beer that ‘changed con­sumer tastes or how brew­eries approach mak­ing beer’?

    1. It invent­ed a style, I think is the point, although that’s real­ly only evi­dent in the US. There’s been a bit of ESB-mania evi­dent among beer geeks on Twit­ter of late – per­haps its inclu­sion reflects that, too.

      1. What style would that be? (Gen­uine ques­tion, not snark.) I men­tal­ly file ESB more or less along­side Har­vey’s HSB, as exam­ples of the mul­ti­far­i­ous won­ders that Eng­lish bit­ter is capa­ble of encom­pass­ing. Cer­tain­ly not new or inno­v­a­tive.

        But then, what’s ‘new’? I recent­ly realised that, although I got into real ale at an ear­ly age, I’d then spent most of my adult life han­ker­ing after a style of bit­ter (brown, ‘malty’, heavy) that just was­n’t avail­able where I lived. The bit­ters that were avail­able in Man­ches­ter in the 1980s weren’t new-wave hop­mon­sters, but they were uni­form­ly pale, sharp and thin-tex­tured. I was 50 before I even­tu­al­ly ‘got’ pale and hop­py beers (hav­ing moved up here at 22).

        So you can imag­ine my feel­ings when I read this tweet:

        Changes what I thought I knew about beer”, indeed. Yes, it changes it to include what some of us knew all along, only we kept qui­et about it because it was­n’t what the cool kids were talk­ing about… H’mph.

        1. ESB is recog­nised as a dis­tinct style in the US, some­where between best bit­ter (c.4.5%) and bar­ley wine (c.6.5–7%).

          There’s no doubt a lot to unpick in that idea and we’re not sure *we* think ESB is all that impor­tant as a beer, except per­haps in the sense that it was one of the cult (strong, expen­sive) beers around which CAMRA ral­lied in the 1970s.

          1. Talk about rein­vent­ing the wheel! I think peo­ple in this coun­try have had enough of these so called Beer Advo­cates.

          2. Lots of peo­ple facepalm at these sort of Franken­styles that come about on the back of some semi-informed wish­ful think­ing about a style that _ought_ to exist and then take on a life of their own when peo­ple actu­al­ly start brew­ing stuff based on the descrip­tion that results, but I’m actu­al­ly kind of fas­ci­nat­ed by them. There’s a few that have come out of Amer­i­can home­brew­ers try­ing to get a han­dle on British beer styles, and arguably mod­ern sai­son is anoth­er.

  3. Punk obvs. But Good King Hen­ry demands a men­tion, as does at least one Mar­ble beer, prob­a­bly either Choco­late or Lagon­da.

    1. See above re: Punk.

      Why Good King Hen­ry? Because of the Rate­Beer thing?

      Mar­ble we were expect­ing some­one to men­tion. Much as we love their beers, what makes any of them Impor­tant?

      1. Re. GKH: yeah, pret­ty much.

        Re. Mar­ble: I sup­pose it could’ve been a Dark Star or Roost­ers, but nei­ther are local to me. I’ve heard all three described as John The Bap­tist to Thornbridge/Brewdog’s crafty mes­si­ah. Brew­ers forged in the micro­brew­ery age that ‘went craft’.

        1. As much as I love Mar­ble, I think our hosts’ instinct is cor­rect. Despite Bren­dan Dob­bin’s ini­tial involve­ment, you can’t draw a straight line from Yaki­ma Grande to the Man­ches­ter Bit­ter and Lagon­da we know today; there were a lot of fal­ter­ing steps and diver­sions on the way. Until the mid-00s, Mar­ble looked a lot like A N Oth­er region­al indie – think of Dun­ham, Three Bs or Otley rather than Thorn­bridge or BD.

    1. Ooh, tricky. We can prob­a­bly avoid the issue by argu­ing (as we did at book length) that the age of ‘alter­na­tive beer’ (craft beer to use lat­er ter­mi­nol­o­gy) began in about 1963 and that Guin­ness, like Hodg­son’s IPA, is a much old­er beast.

        1. Yes, true, but there are some shades of grey in this. It was brewed in Lon­don as well as Dublin until quite recent­ly, for one thing, and on a huge scale, too.

    1. TNP is a good call – if Brew­Dog are an impor­tant brew­ery, as we’ve always argued, then the beer that got them into the papers is prob­a­bly an impor­tant beer.

  4. I sug­gest Exmoor Gold (1986) – when I arrived in Lon­don from the colonies in 1992, and had some ses­sions of Real Ale for the first time at that pub in Ludgate Cir­cus (Old King Lud or Hogshead? Research indi­cates Hogshead opened in 1993, so it may have been then.), this was the one which stood out in terms of flavour and colour.

    Prob­a­bly the colour, main­ly.

    I also sec­ond the Firkin Dog­bolter which stood out when I drank at that Firkin pub in the Den­mark Hill sta­tion, most def­i­nite­ly in 1992. The strength (ABV) was impres­sive, for sure.

    1. Exmoor Gold is an inter­est­ing one. Def­i­nite­ly the first mod­ern gold­en ale but (as Mar­tyn Cor­nell argues in Amber, Gold & Black) it did­n’t real­ly get noticed until *after* Sum­mer Light­ning won all those awards. Sus­pect [cita­tion need­ed] that it got paler to live up to its name, too.

  5. I we can’t have Punk (though I agree with Py; if you were to ask most craft nerds what their gate­way beer was I’d be sur­prised if Punk was­n’t the most pop­u­lar answer) is there a case for Dead Pony Club? If only because my mum (in her six­ties) now drinks it instead of Per­oni! Seri­ous­ly, a con­sis­tent­ly pro­duced hop­py pale ale at 3.8% that is both dif­fer­ent and wide­ly acces­si­ble must be worth a shout.

    1. Don’t wor­ry, Punk will prob­a­bly end up on Michael’s fin­ished list for exact­ly the rea­sons you sug­gest. Just can’t bring our­selves to give that one beer a medal sim­ply because it hap­pened to end up in more super­mar­kets than it’s half-twin Jaipur.

      The long and the short of it is, there *aren’t* many impor­tant beers, i.e. beers that have last­ing influ­ence or knock peo­ple’s socks off. DPC is great – we’re big fans – but it did­n’t kick off a trend.

      In fact, a big chunk of the 25 most impor­tant craft beers in Britain are prob­a­bly from Amer­i­ca (Goose Island, SNPA), Bel­gium (Hoe­gaar­den, Sai­son Dupont), Ger­many (Erdinger)…

      1. Sure­ly the very fact that Punk start­ed out as essen­tial­ly a clone of Jaipur sug­gests that Jaipur is the real influ­encer there.

        Lists on the inter­net, eh?

        1. Sier­ra Neva­da (or what­ev­er) influ­enced Jaipur, Jaipur influ­enced Punk IPA, then Punk IPA influ­enced a mil­lion new beer drinkers (prob­a­bly not an exag­ger­a­tion) and dozens of clone beers.

          No-one denies that there is a causal chain involved, the ques­tion is what was the most impor­tant link in that chain.

          Try­ing to deny Punk IPA’s role as a cru­cial­ly impor­tant and sig­nif­i­cant break­through beer is like try­ing to exclude the Bea­t­les from a list of the most 25 impor­tant UK bands of the 60s because they sound­ed just like Bill Haley (or what­ev­er)

          1. I do sort of agree with this, actu­al­ly. Punk clear­ly was­n’t ground­break­ing in terms of the actu­al beer, but it wa pret­ty impor­tant in terms of break­ing out of the “pro­gres­sive real ale” bub­ble and mak­ing large num­bers of peo­ple who weren’t real­ly aware of West Coast or Roost­ers or Thorn­bridge think hey, what’s this thing that isn’t cook­ing lager but isn’t twig­gy bit­ter either? Is there any­thing else like that? Where can I get more of it?

            My approach here was to list Tac­ti­cal Nuclear Pen­guin – Tokyo* would have been a rea­son­able alter­na­tive – on the grounds that if Brew­dog weren’t also pro­duc­ing the World’s Strongest Beer and get­ting into argu­ments with the Port­man group and hav­ing spats with CAMRA and all that stuff then they prob­a­bly would­n’t have bro­ken out of that bub­ble either, but I can’t real­ly argue that Punk was­n’t the beer that won a lot of con­verts.

          2. To put it anoth­er way, how many peo­ple would you think tried Punk and thought “huh, not a bad Jaipur knock-off” ver­sus the num­ber that tried it and thought “wow, what the hell is this?”

          3. Except that the Bea­t­les was­n’t ‘just like’ any­thing else on the scene and did­n’t start life as a son-of‑X, where­as Punk was and did. It’s more like try­ing to exclude McFly from a list of influ­en­tial boy bands because Bust­ed were already on it.

          4. py – that’s an inter­est­ing bit of research, but it does­n’t down­grade the Bea­t­les’ con­tri­bu­tion near­ly as much as the arti­cle does – and even the arti­cle does­n’t say they were just imi­ta­tors.

  6. Hmm, this can be very per­son­al, but as a retired ex pub own­er and brew­er (Bob’s Brew­ing Com­pa­ny) I can find lots of holes in this. Franklin’s and Roost­ers did­n’t use the hops your arti­cle men­tioned, at least not accord­ing to Roger Protz Ale Almanac 1997. And like many peo­ple could add many more to this list, like Ind Coope Bur­ton Ale, Draught Bass and Tay­lors Land­lord – when Syr­i­an Gold­ings were qual­i­ty hops, and before it was high grav­i­ty brewed (high strength brewed and watered down). As for Dob­bin, I used to sell loads of it but gave up because every oth­er batch was infect­ed, it was great some­times, the lit­tle drops of hop oil at rack was the secret.
    As for Jaipur, the prob­lem now is that they just can­not get the orig­i­nal Ahtanum hops any more (I used them in Chardon­nayle) there was only one grow­er and the most recent crop failed com­plete­ly, although the qual­i­ty had been poor for some time.
    I know of many more beers that have gone off the radar main­ly because of hop qual­i­ty dete­ri­o­ra­tion, but this is not real­ly an issue that beer blog­gers and oth­ers under­stand.

    1. Franklin’s and Roost­ers didn’t use the hops your arti­cle men­tioned, at least not accord­ing to Roger Protz Ale Almanac 1997”

      We’ve got great respect for Mr Protz but we’re not sure that’s such a reli­able source. Sean Franklin reck­ons he was using Cas­cades in the ear­ly 1980s and, in fact, Roger gives that ver­sion of the tale him­self here.

      I know of many more beers that have gone off the radar main­ly because of hop qual­i­ty dete­ri­o­ra­tion, but this is not real­ly an issue that beer blog­gers and oth­ers under­stand.”

      Prob­a­bly more than you cred­it but, any­way, the point is that Jaipur was sig­nif­i­cant cul­tur­al­ly rather than a com­ment on its qual­i­ty then or now.

      1. Agreed, I used to sell shed loads of Yan­kee at the time and well remem­ber that Sean was quite ambigu­ous about what hops he used. I also col­lect­ed a tran­sit van load of Sum­mer Light­ning when it was brewed in Sal­is­bury, we could sell six 18,s in a week ! I have tried it on and off ever since and found it quite vari­able, but the qual­i­ty of Eng­lish hops has been extreme­ly incon­sis­tent due to cli­mat­ic vari­a­tions – strange sum­mers. I can’t get that over to beer drinkers when they moan about their favourite beer not being what it once was, peo­ple just don’t get it, a poor sum­mer will affect hops, grapes, sal­ad, what­ev­er.
        Also, when a new hop vari­ety is intro­duced, its char­ac­ter­is­tics will grad­u­al­ly fade over time, so, say Cit­ra, will not be as pro­nounced in ten years time – as has hap­pened with Cas­cade. This is one rea­son new cul­ti­vars are con­stant­ly being devel­oped.

      2. That arti­cle is a lit­tle fuzzy on the his­to­ry of Franklins (and the start of Roost­er); Sean sold Franklins to quit brew­ing and return to the wine trade. I can’t recall exact­ly when, but with­out doubt between 1983 and 1987 – I would guess at 1985. I remem­ber my dad telling me that Sean had sold the brew­ery in a phone call, and ask­ing me who I thought would have bought it. “Well it’s not me, and I’m guess­ing it’s not you, so it has to be Tom­my,” I replied. Sean was out of brew­ing for a few years before restart­ing with Roost­er. Tom­my kept Franklins going – rather errat­i­cal­ly – until his death, and his son car­ried on briefly before sell­ing to the cur­rent own­ers, who moved it all to East Sus­sex, where it still con­tin­ues.

        1. There’s a pret­ty full account of Sean’s career, with his input, in our book, Brew Bri­tan­nia. Must admit that we did­n’t take much inter­est in what hap­pened to Franklin’s after he left.

          1. Tom­my Thomas was an old fam­i­ly friend, and he and my dad were founder mem­bers of the Leeds branch of CAMRA. Fact was I was aways par­tial to hop­py beer, and Franklin’s Bit­ter was one of very few at the time. The beer was pro­duced only spo­rad­i­cal­ly under Tom­my’s tenure (he spent more time drink­ing beer than brew­ing it) and was of incon­sis­tent qual­i­ty, but was still bet­ter in a bad batch than the oceans of Tet­leys in Leeds, or the vast lakes of Brew XI in Brum. In fair­ness, the biggest prob­lem he had was find­ing out­lets for it back then.

  7. I’d say that Punk IPA is impor­tant int he same way Sum­mer Light­en­ing is. Exmoor Gold and Jaipur may have come first, but it was Punk and Sum­mer Light­en­ing that spawned a thou­sand imi­ta­tors and intro­duced 100,000s to the style.

  8. Well thought-out list. I remem­ber Litch­bor­ough Bit­ter from my very ear­ly beer­hunt­ing days; noth­ing very spe­cial, but not at all bad.
    Was a fan of Franklins from the very start, and one of our wed­ding presents was a kilderkin of it from Tom­my Thomas, who had bought the brew­ery from Sean by that point. I vis­it­ed the brew­ery behind the Gard­ner’s Arms in Bil­ton many times, and yes, the hops were Cas­cade when Sean was brew­ing – Tom­my could be a lit­tle cav­a­lier with recipes, and would sub­sti­tute what­ev­er he could get from time to time, and I sus­pect he would have blagged Roger based on what­ev­er he was using at the time. He also had a few hap­py acci­dents, one of them result­ing in a 5.4% ABV strong ver­sion that was actu­al­ly very drink­able, but because he did­n’t always make prop­er notes, he nev­er man­aged to repli­cate it. And the Gard­ner’s Arms at the time was a rich source of anec­dotes that could make a book in itself… the land­lord’s son was respon­si­ble for the cel­lar, and could­n’t keep beer to save his life. Of 3 pumps, only beer was ever drink­able, so you sim­ply asked who­ev­er was stand­ing at the bar what they were drink­ing, and had that.
    I agree with Jaipur v Punk, but I would con­tend that Simp­kiss TNT was the orig­i­nal gold­en ale back in 1985; cer­tain­ly the first I ever saw. Greenalls rather spoiled that by tak­ing over and clos­ing down the brew­ery short­ly after, which was a trag­ic shame for the loss of that his­toric beer, and also the excel­lent Old Ale. Although to tie back in to my wed­ding, my stag do was spent drink­ing most­ly Sum­mer Light­ning in the Wyn­d­ham Arms, so I’m cer­tain­ly not knock­ing that.

  9. You could argue that the next wave of small­er brew­ers who came after PUNK IPA were emu­lat­ing the US craft brew­ing scene in gen­er­al rather than PUNK. Brew­dog were just the first brew­ery to bring the US mod­el ‘lock stock’ over here.

    They basi­cal­ly cloned Stone in terms of the style and ripped off their mar­ket­ing. It was­n’t nov­el it’s just few peo­ple in the UK had been exposed to it before.

    At least the oth­er brew­ers who came before them like roost­ers, mean­time and thorn­bridge etc were putting their own twist on US craft styles.

    It also should be not­ed punk is now a pale shad­ow of its for­mer self. Low­er ABV, much low­er bit­ter­ness and com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent hop grist.

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