Small beer

The American-style "brewpub" may be the next restaurant fashion in Britain. A brewing company, a publican and a restaurateur have all independently told me that they are considering opening such establishments in Covent Garden, London. If it were to happen, we might see some very interesting brewpub beers. Not before time.

Once, all pubs made their own beer, and the revival of this practice, in the Seventies, was a British idea. Sad to say, the proliferation of British brewpubs - the Firkin chain and currently more than 100 others - has not brought us many really unusual beers. Perhaps because they represent a return to tradition, many British brewpubs offer only the old staples: a bitter, a strong ale, maybe a porter if you are lucky.

Across the US, brewpubs are currently opening at the astonishing rate of one a day. So are very small breweries without pubs attached. The words "brewpub" and "micro-brewery" have passed into the language, and are bandied about by the aware and trendy.

The new, small breweries of the US have been much more ambitious than ours. When his bosses in London would not allow him to make interesting beers, young British brewer Nick Funnell went to Philadelphia to work at the Dock Street pub, on Logan Square. He has since moved on, but while there he was able to develop an ever-changing menu of beers, and the pub never has fewer than a dozen of its own creations on tap.

These range from a Bohemian-style Pilsener to a Bavarian interpretation of that style (each using the hops of the country); a lightly chocolaty, Mexican-style, dark lager to a heavier, maltier, Germanic example; a juniper-and-rye beer to two wheat beers (one German-style, the other with Belgian spicings of Curacao and coriander); a mild ale in the English manner, to an "Irish red" ale, to an India Pale Ale. Along with the brews come beer-friendly dishes such as Maryland crab cakes and steak quesadillas.

In its interior, the Dock Street brewpub blends elements of a cocktail bar and Thirties cinema, with the stainless steel of the brewhouse shining proudly behind glass. Highly visible brewhouses, sometimes with their tanks ranged like the pipes of a church organ, are frequently a feature of American brewpubs. So are architectural flourishes, often post-modernist.

I would never want such extravaganzas to replace the British pub, but they would make an enjoyable supplement.

On the West Coast, brewer Dan Gordon and chef Dean Biersch raised a million dollars to fund their first brewpub five years ago. There are now five or six Gordon Biersch brewpubs, from San Francisco to Honolulu, and the founders recently sold a controlling stake for $20m. Each has its own style, but all have a minimalist streak of Bauhaus, especially in their stylised ironwork sheaves of barley.

Dishes such as Belgian endive and Gorgonzola cheese in a balsamic vinaigrette go well with the beers, though I still can't quite get used to the sight of slender young women washing down their diet-conscious salads with half- litres of Gordon Biersch's malty, Munich-style amber-red and dark brown lagers.

Will we ever have quite such stylish brewpubs? I doubt it, but at least we can raise one of the American small beers for Independence Day. A growing number of these are stocked by speciality beer shops, and high street retailers such as Oddbins.

St Stans A brewpub and micro-brewery in the town of Modesto, in St Stanislaus County, California. Among its products are a malty Amber Altbier, in broadly the Dusseldorf style; the slightly roast Red Sky Ale: and a treaclier Dark Altbier.

Devil Mountain Gold Golden and Railroad Ales. These very fruity brews were originally made in a brewpub at an old railway station near Devil Mountain in California. This gave rise to a larger brewery in the Californian town of Benicia (where Jack London wrote and Gentleman Jim Corbett fought). Now, they are being made in a yet larger brewery in Cincinnati.

Pete's Wicked A range of brews developed by a home-brewer, Pete Slosberg, again in California. These were first made in a tiny brewery in Palo Alto, California, but have also moved to a bigger brewery in the Midwest. Pete's Wicked Lager has a flowery, hop character. Pete's Wicked Ale is smooth and darkish. The Red has a very good malt character. Also try the Summer Brew, with its light touch of lemon flavouring.

Samuel Adams The best known small beers in the US. Created at a tiny brewery in Boston, then reproduced at several larger breweries throughout the country. Samuel Adams Boston Lager is splendidly aromatic and hoppy. Samuel Adams Honey Porter is smooth and toasty. Try the latter with chocolate brownies for a treat on the 4th of July.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

    Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

    Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

    Day In a Page

    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions
    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions