Wednesday 9 January 2019

Underneath the Arches

One of the staples of online beer forums is international visitors asking for local recommendations, and I normally try to help where I can. Something that always seems jarring to me, though, is the question a lot of American beer geeks ask: "which breweries should I visit"?

As a British punter, it's never really occurred to me that on visiting a new town in the UK or on the continent, my first goal should be to go and visit some breweries. Maybe if there's somewhere famous with an interesting tour then it might be worth it? Maybe if there's a tap room that's got a reputation in itself? But as a default first port of call for a regular punter, I'd assume that I'd be spending most of my drinking time in regular pubs and bars. That's where I can get a cross-section of the local craft scene under one roof, it's where I can find the local trad breweries' stuff sold in the best possible condition, it's generally where I'll find local life and local culture. Fermenting vessels look the same almost everywhere - pubs don't.

So I don't know. Is this an American thing? Or a general beer geek thing that I'm missing out on? And why? Does it work out for them? Do they find what they're looking for? Are they greeted by chatty brewers, eager to crack out a bottle from their personal stash and shoot the breeze for an hour with a bunch of bros in a Three Floyds caps? Or do they find themselves parked on a bench in a cold railway arch being served flights of thirds by disinterested hipsters, wondering what the hell's going on with the beer culture in this crazy country?