Classics Making a Comeback
Phil Harding’s thoughts on the beer scene’s next move…
‘I am a great believer that everything in life goes in cycles, and the world of beer is no exception. Over the past thirty years we have seen the rise and rise of a new wave of brewers. A new generation of breweries started in the US in the 1980s as a ripple, and this has now turned into a global tsunami, shaking up the whole industry, effecting traditional family owned breweries as well as the multi-national giants. This new generation of breweries took old English beer styles and gave them a make-over with an all out assault on the senses – stunning aroma hops to the fore.
These hoppy versions of English pale ales and IPAs have taken the beer world by storm and have introduced a whole fresh generation of people to the wonders of beer. It’s not just pale ales that have received attention, but stouts and porters have also seen a resurgence, as millenials fall in love with exciting flavours. New British, Belgian, Danish, Italian, Australian – the list goes on – breweries have sprung up in their hundreds, serving these interpretations of old styles, usually with a lot more personality and flavour than their forbears. Beers packed with flavour, however, do not necessarily translate into balanced tipples, and overly hopped brews can cover up a multitude of defects as can beers which have over-pitched yeast. There are many examples of beers that are brewed by exuberant characters who have not grasped the art of balance.
Although these issues may give the brewing revolution a slightly negative tone, the overall message is one of positivity, and here at BBB we are convinced that after working through some of the new generation brews, people will continue their beer journey to the absolute classics of the beer world. The styles of beer honed and refined over the years by Belgian brewers, like Westmalle, are jewels of the beer world and should be seen as our versions of the wine world’s French classics. Balance, drinkability, ability to be drunk nearer ambient temperature and effortless pairing with food, are signs of a beer that has great pedigree.
As the price of hops sky rockets due to demand out stripping supply, I am sure that we will see a lot of brewers being forced to brew beers that are less about hop-punch and more about balance and flavour. Classic beers like Belgian trappists have not seen the growth that some of their newer cousins have experienced in the past ten years, but I’m sure we will see an upsurge in demand for them in the coming decade.’
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