Long perceived as a drink to be swilled rather than savoured, beer is having a moment internationally. In this article we look at a few of the cities under-going a craft beer renaissance and discuss our favourite beers, breweries and bars.
In the United States the capital of micro-brewing seem to be accepted at Portland, Oregon. However, in recent years Brooklyn, New York, has emerged as a real contender.
At the heart of this rise is the eponymous Brooklyn Brewery. Now in its twenty-seventh year Brooklyn is famed for its internationally exported lager and ever-changing seasonal offerings. Their brewery is well known for its tours, which end in its enviable tap rooms. Although Brooklyn’s offerings are much loved, they are far from the only game in town with upstarts like Captain Lawrence and the Barrier Brewery offering a range of classics and new brews.
As with much of the American craft brew scene IPAs are a real favourite, but big hops are slowly giving way to a more diverse palette. The Habitat, a tiny brew-pub in the north of Greenpoint specialises in bourbon aged beers, while Lucky Dog focuses on down to earth pilsners. With such a range of styles available Brooklyn in a must for beer aficionados.
Beer in Bangkok? Thailand is certainly not well known for its independent brewing, however, this is beginning to change. The Tawandang German Brewery and Bar in Yan Nawa has a beer hall large enough to match many in Deutschland itself and serves up vast steins of freshly brewed beer. Visitors can also enjoy a menu of fusion cuisine and live entertainment.
Away from Tawandang, venues like Mikkeller and Beerology offer up a laudable international range of ales, while Beervana specialises in a Thai-American fusion of hopped beers and barbeque. Although the beer scene in Bangkok is small, it is growing and looks on course to become a leading light in Asia.
Like its American counterpart, the British craft brewing scene has exploded in recent years. Much of this growth has focused around the capital, where new breweries have popped up from Battersea (Sambrooke’s) to Bermondsey (Kernel) and White City (Maconda). In keeping with London’s brewing history, porters are high on the agenda, harking back to the days when they were a favourite tipple of those working at Billingsgate fish market.
More exotic flavours are also in strong supply, not least from Beavertown: a brewery based in Tottenham. Using hops from across the world, Beavertwon’s ‘Alpha Series’ focuses on creating “experimental ales” that range from the savoury ‘Omega’ – with hints of garlic, sage and onion – to a spiced pumpkin brew that was hot on nutmeg, clove, ginger and cinnamon. These brews may not be for the faint hearted, but they have earned Beavertown a devoted local following, making a trip to the tap room indispensable.
A visit to London would be nothing without a visit to a pub. For craft beer fans, Stoke Newington High Street in the north east of the city includes a number of superlative venues, including the much-loved Jolly Butchers.
South America has little by way of brewing history, and is famed for its low strength, and unfortunately low flavoured, offerings. However in Santiago things are beginning to change.
The best known brewery is Szot, run by Californian native Kevin Szot. The emphasis here is on variety. For every stout, there is a new wild ale, utilising raw yeast strains, and the brewery has won plaudits for its barley wine and amber ales: rare pleasures in Latin America. Open to the public every Saturday, the brewery hosts events and tasting sessions throughout the year.
For a national tour of Chile’s beer scene, visitors should look to the Cerveceria Nacional, a lively brewery and tap room in Barrio Yungay. While the brewery is known for its stout and golden ale, the tap room is the real draw. It is in many ways the hub for Chilean brewery and includes beers from across the country. The atmosphere is informal and communitarian: expect tables flowing with small portions of good, expert advice from staff and the opportunity to mix with locals.