Great Britain Is the lack of different styles from British brewers a good thing or a bad thing?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by canucklehead, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. I was drinking 4 different beers from a Wychwood mixed pack ( Goliath, Scarecrow, Hobgoblin and wychcraft) and started to think about how these beers are really just variations on a couple of styles of beer . I enjoyed the beers and their different nuances but wonder if British brewing is held back by the fact that most brewers work within the same bitter/ ESB/ golden ale/ British IPA framework. When I think of the craft brewers in the area I live in ( let''s call it the Pacific Northwest ) they have no qualms about producing a pale ale and a marzen in the same lineup and creating a Belgian Tripel as a seasonal.

    I love British beer and have tried many over the years but would it benefit the industry if more brewers took on German or Belgium styles as well as the traditional UK styles? I know Meantime and Brewdog have broken some barriers in that respect but it still seems the vast majority are not willing to make that leap.
  2. There's alot of experimentation in styles and variations in UK brewing these days. Its just that almost all of what is exported is (as you mentioned) the same old stuff from the same old big brewers who don't really give a damn. Many of these brewers are not wanting to take a leap into something new and potentially great because they understandably do not want to alienate their core drinkers and go out of business but by brewing the same old stuff they run risk of a long steady decline from a gradual lack of interest. Even Meantime and BrewDog are so last year (or was that 2008?). Unfortunately BA doesn't do a very good job of keeping up with the fast paced rate of change in the UK beer scene. Magic Rock, Tempest, Cromarty, The Kernel, Hawkshead and Moor are just a small taste of the new breweries who are making things really interesting. You'll just have to come here to find out.
    HenrikO likes this.
  3. I would be disappointed if UK brewers started doing lots of Belgian and German beers. It would mostly mean that they would do less of the beer they know how to do and more mediocre attempts at stuff they don't know how to do but are just doing to be different. Plus like Zimbos pointed out, lots of brewers are making a good job at doing new interpretations of traditional beers styles, i.e. they're creating new tastes rather than attempting to mimic other peoples stuff.

    Plus if I want nice German styles I can just get beer brewed by German breweries and if I want nice Belgians I can get nice beers from breweries in Belgium.
  4. There are many factors. One is simply that British beer styles are firmly established for what they are , the infrastructure is there to supply them and if it ain't broke don't fix it.And the majority of drinkers feel it ain't broke.
    The barley grown in the UK is of the highest quality but much better suited for brewing British style beers than others.The emergence of new breweries suggests that the demand for traditional brews is actually on the increase; lager drinkers have been enticed by the increase in so-called golden ales. Fact is that there's masses of choice in what already exists, people don't miss what they've never had and with respect to Zimbo, the vast majority of drinkers don't wish to stray far away from their comfort zone.The typical drinker isn't a BA member either here (or in the US for that matter). British drinking culture is firmly wedded to quantity thus reducing demand for stronger beers.German styles are best left to the Germans who have the expertise and more suitable local ingredients.
  5. This is not a plug but if you're after a brewer that makes incredibly tastyand diverse beer while walking the line between tradition and the latest trend all served via cask then you can't beat Hawkhead in Cumbria. If more reluctant cask brewers took a few leaves out of their books I'd feel a hell of alot better about the direction cask beer is taking in the UK today.
    EssexAleMan likes this.
  6. Lovely beer, Zimbo, remember having a few pints when last up in that part of the world.
  7. patto1ro

    patto1ro Advocate (535) Netherlands Apr 26, 2004 Subscriber

    I'm as interested in British brewers brewing German styles as I am in German brewers brewing British styles, i'e not at all. What a dull world it would be if everyone brewed every type of beer everywhere. Regional variation is what makes beer fun.
  8. On a smaller scale, in the days when every town had its own breweries what fun it was trying out the local beers when away from home! Living on a diet of Home and Shippo's , good as they were, a pint ofAdnam's, Bateman's or Cameron's was a taste of the exotic. My regret is never having sampled Boddington's when it was an iconic beer described by CAMRA as "exceptionally bitter"
  9. I'll echo what Ron said.

    And Mr Canucklehead I'm amazed that any beers from Wychpiss can get anyone to think of anything other than 'why'.
  10. If I could get Kernal beers for a quid a bottle I would. I can't, so that's why I get wychwood ones.
  11. You said it, patto1ro.
  12. I'd prefer it if more British brewers made neglected British styles: dark mild, porter, barley wine, stock ale, Burton, Scottish Light, double brown stout, milk stout, brown ale ...
    EssexAleMan and paxton1978 like this.
  13. Think I'd take the quality over quantity approach and have 1 Kernel instead of 3 Pisswood
  14. I like to mix it up, sometimes I like run of the mill quaffing beers, sometimes I like massive depth of flavour beers.
    Which is what I did today actually:
  15. jmw

    jmw Savant (440) North Carolina Feb 4, 2009

    You've both highlighted one of the major weaknesses in US brewing--lack of focus. Everyone thinks they can brew anything and have it go over well. Here they prefer to call this 'innovation' instead of hubris.
  16. That's why I got shot down when I suggested US brewers try and use their experience in brewing to develop new styles that are more distinctly American. But no, apparently American Stouts, American Porters and American IPAs are all orginal American inventions.
    Hoppsbabo likes this.
  17. I'd say US brewers have really made stouts and IPAs their own. And they''ve done a very good job of them too. For a long time they put most UK eqivalents to shame and have inspired many to up their game and make better and/or more interesting beer.

    In time reviving older more traditional styles will happen but I think people are still too preoccupied with the latest crafty type trends.
  18. Like restaurants or markets I'd rather see brewers concentrate on utilising local (or at least national) produce better if possible - they can do any style they want as far as I'm concerned.
  19. From what I've read in the Homebrewing section and from the many beermails (remember them?) I've received from US homebrewers ,American domestic malt is simply bland. Nothing personal, just that the conditions are rarely ideal for growing it.A mirror of the wheat situation where we have to import North American wheat for breadmaking as it does a better job than ours.
    One major reason for the different styles in the old world brewing countries is the character of local ingredients which have dictated brewing methods and processes.We didn't involve the time and expense of decoction mashing or lager in this country because we didn't need to for example.So if you stay local it can be restrictive.
  20. Yes. Local when you can and when the beer's at least good. But I would hate to be restricted to only local hops.
  21. Yeah I did say if possible :) I know some hops have been grown in Scotland but I can't imagine the quality or variety is anywhere close to the hop producing countries
  22. There was once a small hop industry in Scotland but it died out about 150 years ago. Can't imagine the quality was up to much either.
  23. I was briefly considering trying a couple of plants in my conservatory for homebrew, then I actually saw how big they grow and was slightly put off :eek:
    jazzyjeff13 likes this.
  24. Doesn't lessen the fact that are still just more flavourful versions of regular British beers. And that's not because British brewers couldn't make stuff really tasty, it's because British drinking culture has always been more about drinkability and simpleness than richer beers you drink for the taste.
  25. Have them outside and watch them climb all over the conservatory. My dad has them over his shed and they look awesome.
  26. Yes, the idea of beer drinking meaning the odd tiny bottle or two at a time is totally foreign to us.Fact is that the pre WW1 normal British beer was fairly like today's US "craft" (in that it was strong and heavily hopped) and when the war had its effect there wasn't any great pressure to return to the status quo. And when "lager" (I use inverted commas to distinguish this from the great and respectable beers of this genre) reared its ugly head it was embraced.The great unwashed don't want demanding stuff, they want pints.I liked Ron Pattinson's thread about being "whelmed".........I've had my share of strong and extreme beers and to be honest they bore me. Not because there's anything wrong with them, to each his taste, but because I usually tire of them before I've finished the glass.I want beer which is a delight to drink but invites me to have another.With the rest of the session to come.
    Hoppsbabo and Bitterbill like this.
  27. Marquis, when you refer to we or us (UK drinkers) you must remember that within the UK this is a 'generational' we or us. I fully respect your preferences for beer, some of which I share with you, some I do not, however to me you speak for your generation of beer drinkers in the UK, NOT all beer drinkers/fans/enthusiasts in the UK or more to the point MY generation (in my 30's to be clear here).

    I often apply 'whelmed' to the beers you love, 3.8-4.3% session beers. I find a lot of them are bland and boring, do nothing for me. Some are exceptional but way too many breweries churn out same old same old brown twig water .... yawn !

    I rarely find this with the strong bottled beers that you find whelming!

    Younger drinkers, as well as embracing real ale, are often more appreciative (or in equal measures) of American or UK keg 'CRAFT' - you know what I mean by that, and if not think Magic Rock/Brodies/Kernel keg offerings.

    Keep banging your drum by all means in terms of what you like - good session beers and the like, but drinking the odd tiny little bottle is not foreign to my friends or myself - I get more flavour, depth and complexity in half of one of these tiny little bottles than I often do from 6 pints of 3.9% cask bitter. I appreciate this may not be the case for you.
    Zimbo likes this.
  28. Considering what the American beer scene was like 25 years ago I couldn't be happier with how things have turned out in the States. It's a long way till I'd ever be bored with them. The same's true for the UK' beer scene especially with what's being brewed north of Cumbria. I love it all.
    drtth likes this.
  29. And I've said it before and I'll say it again. If CAMRA doesn't get its act together sometime soon its influence will undoubtenly wane. People here are coming around to understanding they're not the only beer 'experts' in town.I know CAMRA will always point to its rising membership numbers as proof of its continuing success but in my experience the ratio to new CAMRA member to new beer enthusiast (of UK craft breweries etc) must be about 1 to 20 at least . And that's probably being pretty conservative.There's is nothing engaging to the young about the way CAMRA promotes and judges good beer. I know because I've heard this type of thing so many times in conversation with young 'uns.

    Yes to new (and old ) tasty brew and no the same old twig water status quo.
    HenrikO likes this.
  30. Perhaps I didn't make myself as clear as I might have done. Bottled beer sales are tiny in comparison with what's sold on draught (ignoring macro stuff) and the overwhelming bulk of draught ale sales are low gravity. Craft beer is almost all cask though some brewers are straying into keg.I regularly meet such a brewer who says that it does give more outlets but make no mistake about it, it's better on cask and it's a commercial decision rather than to do with the beer.And this brewery has been experimenting with West Coast influenced brews since the 90s-nothing new here.They also manage to brew some pretty good "twig water"
    The brewers with whom I'm in contact are struggling to keep up with the demand.I also have the occasional conversation with the CEO of SIBA and overall get an different picture from you.
    We all are (and I'm no exception) influenced by what we see in our own environment.With pubs closing all over the place we have bucked the trend here ; the flourishing pubs (sometimes revived from death or near death) have cask ale at the core.It may well be different where you live.
    Nothing against the odd strong bottle but this is as well as what I drink in the pub or after a meal.Not instead.
  31. Nailed it. Also, Where's Canucklehead gone? have we been trolled?
  32. I'd like to see this, as well as more stouts and porters and milds in pubs. I had a pint of porter from the Mad Bear and Bishop during their beer festival and it rates as one of the best ever pints i've had. First porter/stout from hand pull as well. I never realised how good pub beer could get before then.
  33. I know and have experience within both the British & American brewing industry and find this thread interesting. I refuse to add to this debate because it is a very personal subject. I can say that there are some correct things being said by most of the parties involved here, but there are some equally misconceived notions.

    The real thing is to support the breweries that make the beer YOU enjoy the best. Forget about other peoples opinions and believe in your own senses. Open your mind and be willing to try something new and you might be surprised what you like. If most people did not know the name of a brewery or where the beer came from they would probably be very different in their evaluation. It would then be really about the beer.
    boddhitree, StuartCarter and jmw like this.
  34. Just to weigh in about CAMRA, I do have to say that of the people my age who drink ale, both :)P) of them have been turned by the kind of stuff CAMRA promotes. One was Greed King IPA at the pub, the other was Bath Ales Gem at a beer festival. Unfortunately the price of the really tasty craft beers put them off.
  35. But Greed King IPA IS a craft beer-it say's "Hand crafted" on the pump clip :)
    Bath Gem is a lovely pint.
  36. By that thought, all beer is craft beer because it involves people using their hands to make it, whether they boast about it or not...
  37. Hmmm, I've been a member of CAMRA for over 30 years and didn't realise I was supposed, by virtue of that membership, to be an expert, even if in inverted commas!
    Interested in your figures and would be pleased to give them an 'expert' analysis, believe it or not I drink with more of your generation than my own and find them to be more receptive and appreciative of CAMRA than you appear to be. But then I've been banging on about the bigger beer World out there and the excellent beers that can be found from Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, USA, Italy etc for many years.
    And if I may I'd like to correct one of your misconceptions about CAMRA, it's primary purpose is to protect the method of dispense, everything after that is incidental.
  38. Well, then CAMRA needs more people like you as my experience has been very much different.
    BTW, I'm young of heart but middle aged of body. And I'm still lovin that avatar of yours. Especially:D the arse crack. Nice touch that. :D
  39. I noticed today at the local beer store that Hawkshead was on the shelves along with 8 different Adnams beers , Durham,Thornbridge and Cornish knocker plus some others. I look forward to trying these great British beers.
  40. Which Adnams?