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Beer, Craft Beer and Real Ale

To use the word beer is as vague as its origins. There are dozens of different beer styles that are used to categorise world beers into a structure based on flavour, ingredients, appearance and birthplace, to name just a few. The idea of beer styles is largely based on work by the late Michael Jackson, or the Beer Hunter, as he was more commonly known in the field. There is no set list of conditions that dictate which style a brew sits under, as different countries and different organisations have their own guidelines as to what makes a beer a certain style. A resurgence in beer styles since home brewing came back into fashion in the 1970’s has put the consumers faith back into a wider variety of styles using traditional methods to achieve new and exciting creations.

It is extremely difficult to pinpoint the first civilisation to produce beer. Sumerians and Babylonians are often credited with the conception of something similar back in the thousands BC, although more recent claims suggest Amazonian tribes from 10,000 BC were able to concoct a fermentation capable of intoxication. Beer, methods and the reasons we drink have changed dramatically since then, but its importance to those who brew and consume has remained integral.

Another notable change over time is the ingredients used for beer. What started as a creating a pulp from bread has developed over the years, adding spices and herbs in the Roman times and fruit such as lemons and elderberries in the Middle Ages, ends with modern ingredients we recognise now such as hops and grains. Legislations such as the Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Law) and Malt taxes have played a part in creating different styles across the world all for you to enjoy. As Benjamin Franklin once said ‘Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy’. Amen to that.

Craft Beer

The word craft is a verb meaning ‘to make or manufacture (an object, objects, product, etc.) with skill and careful attention to detail.’ This can definitely be said to be true with regards to the so called revolution that has swept the UK and worldwide brewing scene. A new era of smaller, independent microbreweries with a goal to deliver quality over quantity is in full swing here at Beers of Europe.

It is easy to forget breweries such as Brewdog started out as a two man business selling their craft beers at local markets as they have triumphed over the past decade to reach a point where they can barely even be called craft anymore. Microbreweries predominantly focus on using traditional brewing techniques and recipes to create complex brews with a unique and enhanced taste. Consumers began to leave behind the cheap premium brews in favour of more diverse products and that is reflected in our mission to provide a vast array of local, national and international brews you have never had before.

Along with the independent companies and flavours, the craft beer revolution brings new canning lines to the forefront of the take-over, with American Brewers such as Sierra Nevada, Uncommon Brewers and Firestone Walker being joined by our newest additions Hales, Two Beers and a London based brewery, Fourpure. However a threat has already amounted against craft brewing, with large companies paying millions buying out craft breweries in order to stay competitive in the modern markets. Meantime and Camden Town have both recently been purchased by SAB Miller and AB InBev respectively, with Meantime looking to be sold again to Asahi. However with more microbreweries than ever in the UK, and the strength of the craft scenes abroad, Beers of Europe will never be short of independent and high quality brews.

Real Ale

The term Real Ale was appropriately chosen by the Campaign for Real Ale or CAMRA in 1973, at the start of an on-going campaign, to educate the difference between commercially backed premium beers and traditional beers and brewers whose very livelihoods were under threat from the big brewers. CAMRA have grown enormously since then, and now have over 175,000 members and many consider their achievements among the most successful in Europe for a consumer movement and they have taken their issues all the way to the top in order to get their views heard. In addition, they support the breweries and pubs that are well-run and with over 200 UK branches, they are very well run themselves. However they acknowledge that the fight is far from over, with major campaigns to stop the impact the high tax have on our pubs still attracting attention, as well as never losing the core ideology to get as many people as possible trying new real ales and ciders.

There are certain parameters which determine whether ale is just ale, or if it is a real ale. The separation between the two comes after the beer has fermented. Whereas with most bottled beer the beer is syphoned from the yeast, and is often pasteurised to kill off any remaining yeast, real ale retains the yeast in the bottle to create a slow second fermentation which encourages a gentle carbonation. This creates a completely natural, live beer full of flavour that is worth campaigning for.

At Beers of Europe we stock a wide range of CAMRA backed Real Ales including St Austell and Teme Valley.

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