Beer Hunters

Every week we see people traipsing through Belgium on the hunt for rare and weird beers. People are also willing to travel from one side of the US continent to the other, with the thought of a holy-grail, limited-release IPA, spurring them forward.

I fell victim to the mania myself recently, and set off with a few colleagues on a beer-road trip to Sweden, topping in a few cities along the way to promote the magazine, and discover some local beers.

So what did I learn? First of all, that craft beer in Hamburg, Copenhagen or Stockholm seems awfully like craft beer in London or New York: and when German beer-geeks try to show off their local beer scene, they offer German-made IPAs that are remarkably like American ones.

This brings me to my second lesson (although this was just a confirmation of something I already knew): newly minted beer geeks are more attracted to American beers than Belgian beers. This could be down to the seductive nature of American hops. But it’s certainly also because American brewers are pounding the pavement and telling their story. They’ve even nominated an American craft-beer ambassador to promote their beers in Europe.

So why not have a Belgian beer ambassador in Germany? Would that be too much of a stretch? Or at least a bit more engagement with foreign drinkers. Craft beer globalization is a fact and Belgians need to wake up, especially now that the Dutch are getting in on the action.