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Matt Allen
December 2016.
38
Did America’s culture of microbrewing really save beer?
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That’ s a bold suggestion, although we have helped to influence the direction beer brewing is heading in worldwide, mainly as a result of re-emergence in the craft person in the early 2000s. 

There were people ahead of the curve in the ‘80s and ‘90s in this area – brewers who had started a microbrewery – but the biggest proliferation of this style of beer-making really happened at the start of the century. Why? Well, around that time, the crafts-person became more of a sought-out figure in the US. Consumers wanted a face and a story behind the products they were consuming. They began leaving the big producers and started exploring farmer’s markets instead. People in manufacturing felt like going back to working with their hands, and being creative while producing something for the customer versus doing something where they didn’t feel as if they were contributing to the greater society. 

"People in manufacturing felt like going back to working with their hands, and being creative while producing something for the customer versus doing something where they didn’t feel as if they were contributing to the greater society." 

Often these people hadn’t been trained in the manufacturing of their chosen product, not for their whole lives anyway. They came from different backgrounds, so they viewed their industries differently. As a result there was a huge resurgence of craft across the board – and it wasn’t just in beer. Cheese makers started popping up around the country, sommeliers too. In American beer, the microbrewery became popular. The way in which Americans approached starting a brewery was pretty unique. We had a bootstrap mentality to building them – we just figured it out how to make good beer from the equipment we had. 

"So we helped to influence the direction beer is taking worldwide, but there are a lot of brewers around the world that American beer makers are being influenced by too." 

We' d always been influenced by the English, German and Belgian brewing styles, but we didn’t allow ourselves to get trapped in those styles. We went out and made our own. Because there were no traditions, we were allowed to mess around with different hops and yeasts. So we helped to influence the direction beer is taking worldwide, but there are a lot of brewers around the world that American beer makers are being influenced by too. 

Also what a lot a lot of the American brewers are doing is to focus on the hops for its flavours and aromas. There are hundreds of differing varieties of hops and they’ re grown all over the world. Some are floral (East Kent Golding), citrusy (American Cascade) or earthy (German tannin). We combine those characteristics to make flavor profiles in our IPAs.