If you talk to any Beer Lover and ask the question, "What is better British Beer or American ?, The answer will always be the same, British of course !
In actual fact they will go one step further to quantify the statement, and add that we taught them all about beer.
However ,the US beer scene is diverse funky and cutting edge, not to the everybody's taste, i.e. Camra, but lets give them a bit of time.
According to the latest stats from the American Brewers Association there are currently a l over 3,000 breweries across the States. To be honest you would this figure to be higher but it’s still impressive nonetheless. With each brewery producing some 8-10 beers that equates to maybe 30,000 plus beers in the USA . Now that is impressive!
In the UK 1,266 according to Quaffale updated in July 2014 (all breweries not just craft), and with maybe 6 per brewery we have about 7-8000 different beers.
The market to watch is the ones across the pond !
What can the Brits learn about brewing?
So what’s the difference between British beer and American brews?
Innovation seems to be the key over the Atlantic. Huge hoppy IPA’s and a growing interest in session beers are driving the trends on 2014 according to Bart Watson, Chief Economist, Brewers Association.
We posed a few questions to Bart on the differences between the two markets and what British brewers can learn from the Americans. He suggests experimentation and moving away from our traditional brewing styles:
“Innovation and differentiation are the name of the game. British brewers have been amongst the best in Europe at catching on this, but American brewers have been fearless in defying convention and relying on their own flavour preferences rather than historical styles.” Bart Watson
“Craft brewing has blossomed around the world. With far less (or no) surviving indigenous heritage to inform and guide them, foreign microbrewers – chiefly of course in the USA – have embraced traditional styles while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of innovation, which is especially true of modern IPAs. Influence has thus become a cross-pollination process, with a new breed of British microbrewer adopting the entire persona and modus operandi of the American ‘craft brewer’.”
So it’s fair to say we love beer and we love American beer and the two can learn from each other. We can’t forget our brewing heritage but we can innovate and collaborate to make even more brews. The American craft beer market is certainly bigger but whether its better is open to question. Innovation and experimentation is becoming a feature of the UK craft beer scene too.
US Craft beer expansion makes sense given the massive size of the market. This can be seen in the volumes produced by the top 10 US craft brewers. In California alone the market is worth over $6 billion with 10 of the top 50 craft breweries based in the state.
Currently craft beer in the uk accounts of 2% of the entire beer market which stands at £18 billion, this may small but it is having an impact. In 2016 this shows no sign of stopping.
Which do you prefer ?