As the Australian craft beer scene has caught fire and we’ve seen incredible and innovative beers landing here from the US, Scandinavia, Italy, Japan and New Zealand, there’s been a temptation to feel that the UK has been left behind in beer’s Brave New World. Sure, we’ve had the fine brews from Meantime coming here for some time and you’d have to be dead not to be aware of what the noisy buggers at BrewDog are up to.
Yet, despite the best efforts of some within CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale that has done much to keep Britain’s beer traditions alive yet in some quarters has acted as a drag on the growth of craft beer in the UK), anyone who has visited the mother country in the past year or so will be aware that things are starting to get rather exciting. There’s a growing number of bars that pair a lineup of handpumps pouring real ales â many made with New World hops and in crafty styles â alongside a handful of craft beer taps. Many of the new wave of brewers make both excellent real ales in casks and craft beers in keg, with the likes of Thornbridge (above) winning awards on occasion for both forms of the same beer.
On The Crafty Pint’s last visit to the UK in 2012, we were highly impressed by beers from the likes of Blue Monkey, who brew real ales with predominantly American hops, Magic Rock who brew some blisteringly large and impressive beers, The Kernel and others. In fact, while BrewDog grab most of the headlines, they are rarely a brewery that you will find knowledgeable beer folk talking excitedly about. A manager at one of their bars even told us that they may live to regret their strident anti-CAMRA position as it means they can never start brewing real ales without losing face, allowing those who brew both to gain an edge in the long run.
All of which is a rather long winded way of getting to the pointâ¦ The point being that, following the recent arrival of Moor beers from the Birra Italiana team, there’s heaps more top British beers set to arrive Down Under this year, mainly due to the launch of a new importer, The Bravo Group. Promising brewery-to-retailer cold supply, they’ve lined up UK breweries including Thornbridge, Beavertown, Meantime, Sunny Republic, Marble, Summer Wine and Harbour plus Americans such as Anderson Valley Brewing, Coronado Brewing Company and Devilâs Canyon.
Bravo’s Anthony Williams, who will be handling sales in WA, says the strong UK lineup comes in part from the connections established by expat Brit Neil Barker: “Neil was obviously well aware of what’s been happening in Britain, with craft breweries embracing the ‘new world’ of flavour and creativity, but it’s been really exciting for me to discover that the ‘old world’ has reinvented itself in this way.
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