American Craft Beer

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The fact that the US is producing quality craft beer isn’t really a secret, with many of London’s bars and restaurants stocking imports from all over the States.

The Americans have microbreweries in spades from Brooklyn Lager in NYC to the Alaskan Brewing Company. British innovators BrewDog have drawn inspiration from their American counterparts, focusing on a naturally produced beer packaged with an aggressive manifesto.

The emphasis on a more organic, flavour-orientated experience shouldn’t be confused with elitism. Brooklyn Lager, Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams can be found sitting next to one another in Wetherspoons. The demand for such excellent products is an exciting development in a market that can often seem uninspiring. One obstacle facing these American craft beers is the price, comparing unfavourably with the cost of a pint of British ale. But I wish to review three widely available imports, which display intrinsic quality and undoubted value for money.

Anchor Steam Beer 355ml £2.00(approx)

This brewery was established in 1896 in San Francisco. ‘Steam’ refers to beers produced on the west coast; it eventually became a colloquial term for beer in general. Their emphasis is placed on tradition, a handmade product that has continually evolved over many decades. What does it taste like? Anchor Steam is a fuller bodied beer with a dark amber appearance. It is bitter and mouth drying with stout-like notes and some coffee as it develops. This beer opens up later on as the chill fades. Like many quality beers, it’s better once it warms up. It becomes grassy and yeasty towards the end. Look out for Liberty Ale, produced by the same brewery.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 355ml £2.00(approx)

We are staying in California for the excellent Sierra Nevada. A product so natural that a layer of yeast can be found in most bottles; this occurs as a result of the bottle conditioning process, which produces natural carbonation. This is simply remarkable. Very fruity on the nose – apricot and peach. Big hops, very bitter and dry. Sierra Nevada has that beautifully distinctive off white head, which keeps you company until the end. It’s extremely malty with some sourness leading into a bitter development. It becomes floral and spicy as it warms and those distinctive hops offer a subtle pepperiness. Some honey and elderflower. Everybody should know about this.

Brooklyn Lager 355ml £1.75(approx)

A newbie, founded in 1987 operating out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They don’t come much more craft than these guys. A true microbrewery that offers a range of perennial and seasonal releases. The flagship (pictured) presents a lighter body, more lager than beer (as you would expect), although its profile does change over time, becoming more viscous. Brooklyn is bitter and sour, with a very subtle sweetness in the bass. The malt comes through later on in the development. An understated, excellent lager.

image: © www.jamesclay.co.uk