With a focus on experimentation and, especially, hops, a new generation of Belgian brewers takes its inspiration not from its Trappist or Lambic-producing forefathers, but from brewers in the US and the UK.
The recent boom in new breweries has come with a secondary phenomenon: the growth in smaller scale commercial brewing equipment. Today, it seems, almost no one runs a commercial brewery without a pilot system.
The vast majority of craft brewers make forgiving, warm-fermenting ales. But new lager-focused breweries are taking a two-tracked approach to changing that, making fresh versions of the German classics and pushing American lagers into new territory with pumpkins, coffee, rye malt and candi sugar.
Craft beer drinkers, like brewers, want to be challenged. From Chipotle Ale to peanut butter and jelly beer, we never know what will pleasantly surprise us, and the true craft beer drinker will try anything once.
The point of the craft beer revolution was to reestablish the reputation of beer as a quality drink, not to show how clever we can all be. The beers that will achieve that aim will be achieved by beers that are well made, not simply different.
Just because the American craft beer industry produces a lot of beers in traditional styles doesn’t mean they’re anything near world-class in quality. The only shame in brewing traditional beers is doing them poorly or without care or thought.