World Beer

How to curate the best world beer offer

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image (c): Jana Post - www.forestwines.com
Image (c): Jana Post - www.forestwines.com

Related tags: Craft beer, Beer, Us

The growing UK appetite for new beer experiences shows no sign of abating any time soon, and in an effort to keep customers beating a path to your door, Jane Peyton suggests a few brews from around the globe that you might consider for your must-stock list

Beer is the world’s favourite alcoholic drink and the third most often consumed drink after water and tea.

It is a lingua franca that connects people and that is one of the reasons I am invited to host beer-tasting evenings for international corporations to help bond the employees from different countries.

The most popular format is the United Nations of beer. Until a couple of years ago, my options were limited, so it was more like the United NATO of beer — Britain, Germany, Belgium and the US — but no longer. Now it is hard to choose such is the range of global beers available in the UK. Even countries like Italy and Spain, more usually associated with wine, are now producing beers that really excite the palate.

For many drinkers, the sight of beer bottles and cans standing to order in the bar fridge triggers the exploration neurotransmitter as their eyes wander down the lines searching for something new, out-of-the-ordinary, or an old favourite.

So what should publicans interested in expanding their range of world beers look for? What is hot, what is not, what are the new essentials, and what are the stalwarts?

Stock a US brand

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black and Gunnamatta beer bottles
Yeastie Boys' Pot Kettle Black and Gunnamatta beer bottles

Modern beer-focused bars should have at least one US craft brand. One of the hottest names in US brewing is Firestone Walker, four-time winner of the mid-sized brewer of the year award at the Great American Beer Festival. As Stu McKinlay, creative director of Yeastie Boys Brewery (more on them later), says: “I’m a massive fan of Firestone Walker and I think they make the most drinkable New World pale ales on earth. More delicate and British-inspired than the in-your-face stuff we expect from the US West Coast.”

Easy Jack is Firestone Walker’s session IPA and drinkers rhapsodize about it. Session IPAs are fast becoming a prerequisite on the bar, so Easy Jack ticks three boxes — world beer, popular style and red-hot brewery.

A steadfast performer is Samuel Adams Boston lager from the US. This style of beer is also known as Vienna or Amber lager and is crisp and incisive on the palate with caramel and citrus flavour. Shepherd Neame brew it under licence in Faversham.

Brand manager Samantha Catford says: “Samuel Adams Boston Lager is the world’s leading craft beer. Boston Lager should be the first name on any beer list where pubs and bars are looking for both credibility and drinkability from world beers.”

nitro cut
Wake Up Dead Nitro

And what about dark beers from the US? Look no further than Left Hand Brewing, specialists in porter and stout. Its Milk Stout Nitro is America’s number-one-selling stout. As Sharona Selby, the company’s European representative explains: “It really is a knockout. Customers love it for its super smooth soft roastiness and creamy mocha flavours. It has a gorgeous balance.

“Look out too for our Wake Up Dead Nitro. It’s an Imperial Russian Stout and we find that people exploring porters and stouts want the full array and will buy a beer at 10.2% ABV for sharing and then post on social media about where they drank it.”

Sure shot

Arguably the most amusing name for a brewery is Yeastie Boys. This New Zealand company now spans two hemispheres because its beers are brewed in the city of Wellington – where it was founded – and also in Aberdeen (at BrewDog). The company crowdfunded for the investment needed to set up in Britain and reached its target in an astonishing 30 minutes.

Yeastie Boys’ McKinlay visits BrewDog regularly to brew the company’s three top-selling beers, which are Gunnamatta Tea Leaf IPA, Pot Kettle Black South Pacific Porter, and Digital IPA. Gunnamatta is the brewhouse’s worldwide best-seller and contains Earl Grey tea. For fans of aromatic beers with a luscious tropical fruit character, this beer is it.

Yeastie Boys beers and other Kiwi breweries such as Tuatara, Renaissance, 8 Wired, and Three Boys are marketed in Britain through the New Zealand Craft Beer Collective. There is a real buzz around these brewers and their beers earn high scores on rating and review apps such as UnTappd.

Here come the Belgians

Classic beers from Belgium are a must in a comprehensive beer menu. Duvel, the legendary Belgian Strong Pale Ale with its pear, honey, clove character and a dry palate is a full-bodied wonder. Brand manager Matthew Willson of Duvel Moortgat makes the case for stocking the beer.

Duvel
Duvel Bottle and Glass

“Increasing consumer interest and margin opportunity to be found in the speciality beer category has seen a plethora of new brands entering the UK market, resulting in increased ranges and sub-categorisation,” he says. “In this busy category, Duvel stands out for its quality, quirkiness, individuality and style, a signpost brand inviting the consumers to the category.”

Another quintessential Belgian-style is fruit beer. One of the best known brands, Liefman’s Kriek Brut, is a mouth-watering sour and sweet beer brewed with fresh Morello cherries. The acidity of this beer, plus its intense flavour, makes it a beautiful match with savoury food — game in particular — and bitter-sweet puddings, such as sumptuous rich chocolate desserts.

Saison is a popular style to include in the world-beer fridge. With its bone-dry palate, spicy and citrus character, it too is superb with food, in particular seafood, and charcuterie. Saison Dupont is the best-known brand, but if you want to include a beer from a country that is increasingly considered to be ‘the next big thing’ then choose Low Gravity Saison by Italy’s Brewfist. It contains New Zealand hops so it has a fruitier flavour than the classic Belgian versions.

German classics

No world beer list would be complete without Germany. The nation is one of the leading purveyors of wheat beers.

Wheat beers are one of the most versatile styles for matching with food and can go where other beers might struggle, for example, with egg dishes and fragrant south-east Asian food.  The venerable Schneider Weisse is the specialist with a range of sub-styles including a non-alcohol version. Another widely recognised brand is Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier — brewed in the world’s oldest working brewery, which has archives dating back to 1040.

Availability improving

Schneider Weisse
Schneider Weisse

New on the craft beer distribution scene in Britain is Brewave Ltd. The company specialises in brands from countries such as Hungary, Croatia, and Austria, hitherto unavailable in the UK.

Brewave’s managing director Jeno Zsembery (who ran craft beer-focused pubs in London for years) has this advice for publicans keen to spruce up their world beer list: “Craft beer drinkers have the world at their fingertips through smart phone apps, so they know what brands from overseas have a buzz around them. They are constantly looking for something innovative in the beer world, especially from breweries that win awards.”

Zsembery recommends Affen König from Austria’s Brew Age Brewery — this beer won the Double IPA award at London’s Craft Beer Rising 2016. Another brewery with winning credentials is Hopfanatic (RateBeer — best brewery in Hungary) and their porter, Fekete Erdo' ' (translates as Black Forest), which is aged with forest fruits.

Last word goes to Yeastie Boys’ McKinlay, who concludes: “There is a lot of growth to come in the next decade in business terms but, most importantly, in quality and availability.

“There are a lot of exciting things going on here in the UK, with access to all the best beer in the world.”

Meanwhile, the Publican's Morning Advertiser ​will host the first ever Future Trends: Beer and Cider event at the LSO St Lukes on Old Street in London this 22 June.

For a full agenda and booking details visit www.FutureTrendsBeerandCider.co.uk

Related topics: Beer

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