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Craft beer enjoys a boom in Europe as well as the US

craft-beer2American beer has changed.  It used to be known for rather bland lagers in cans or bottles from Budweiser, Miller and Coors.  Rice and corn feature among the ingredients, and real beer lovers rather turned up their noses.  But all that has changed.

An explosion in independently-run microbreweries producing lovingly-created, strong, pungent, flavour-rich ales has transformed the reputation of the product.  But it is not only traditional aficionados of ale who have been won over by this American revolution.  Somehow, beer from the United States has become not just widely respected, but achingly fashionable.

My own experience confirms this.  The British broke away from bland beers in pressurized aluminium barrels with their Campaign for Real Ale some 30-odd years ago.  Now ‘real’ or cask-conditioned ale is everywhere, and the other stuff has virtually disappeared.  A parallel, but different, thing has happened in America.  There were barely 50 breweries in 1980, whereas there are over 2,000 today.  Craft beers are the product of small, independent and traditional brewers.  These are often micro-breweries, and some of their products are to be found in many of London’s coolest bars.  They are often produced in kegs, and are known for high alcohol content and sometimes unusual flavours.  Not only are US beers sometimes stocked in the UK, but some UK brewers are copying their style with craft beers of their own.  Whether or not craft beers are tastier than British real ales can be argued.  What cannot be argued is that they are decidedly more hip.

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