I haven’t turned this blog in to a historical discussion on the emergence of democracy and the revolt of British colonial rule in 18th century America. This year’s pre GBBF event for the British Guild of Beer Writers & The Brewers Association was a showcase of American craft beer, in cans. The basement of the Porterhouse, Covent Garden started to fill up slowly, apparently I had stumbled upon one of the ‘must-attend’ events in the beer writers social calendar. Whispers of 150 to 200 attendees circulated the room as people networked, forging new contacts and greeting old friends.
Beer cans don’t usually tend to conjure up thoughts of quality beer. I’d imagine you’re probably picturing a can of bland mass produced lager or the super strength socially unacceptable park bench breakfast. However, swathes of American micro brewers are now championing tinnies and stocked the basement bar of the Porterhouse generously with their wares. According to the handy pamphlets being distributed, cans are not only environmentally friendly due to their recyclable qualities, but also because they’re lighter and use less energy for shipping. They are safer too as they don’t shatter like glass and I quote ‘Empty cans can’t be hurled like missiles onto the playing field or concert stage’. They did of course omit the obvious grenade approach which could be adopted with a full can.
The first beer I chose was Mana Wheat from the Maui Brewing company. To my surprise this can of beer tasted like Lilt. In the dimly lit room it wasn’t easy reading the tasting notes, although after the initial shock of tinned fruit on the palate I held the tasting notes up to the light. Suddenly the reason behind the totally tropical taste was clear ‘American-style wheat beer infused with Maui Gold Pineapple’. I made a note to be more careful when ordering for the rest of the night and thankfully managed to try some stunners. LA Perouse White also from Maui was more what I’d been hoping for, classic Belgian style wheat with subtle coriander notes. Oskar Blues Brewery Mama’s Little Yella Pils was superb, with its rich malt backbone supporting the Saaz hops I could easily have believed this was Czech.
Another benefit of the aluminium cans is that they also maintain the quality and freshness of the beer. The protection from UV means the beer won’t become lightstruck, which is particularly important for hop led beers. Despite the pun, Modus Hoperandi IPA from Ska Brewing was a great exponent of the UV shielded packaging, a fresh piney aroma poured out of my glass and an upfront citrus hop punch hit my palate. This beer had great balance with a caramel malt and slight sweetness reminiscent of some one of my favourite beers the Kernel Brewery IPAs.
The most talked about beer of the night was Back in Black from 21st Amendment Brewing Company bringing us almost back to where we started as the brewer describes this beer as a ‘declaration of independence from the tyranny of the expected’. It was smooth, chocolaty and very drinkable, but to my tastes there wasn’t quite enough of a citrus punch for a Black IPA.
I had a great evening, and The Brewers Association put a fantastic showcase together, although I have to admit I was already converted. UK Brewer Brewdog have been putting their flagship Punk IPA in a four pack for some time now, aside from the odd production issue in the past, I believe the can is a far closer reproduction of the draught keg beer than the bottles ever will be. If you still aren’t convinced about canned craft beer then I’ll leave you with one final thought to do the trick…