I get that people worry about the gradual Americanisation of our beer culture, I really do. The key thing to remember, for me at least, is that the beer landscape exists as it does today because of shifting, global influence over hundreds of years. These days, that influence occurs exponentially thanks to how connected we are through technology and social media. If a brewer in California releases a revolutionary beer, then the rest of the world will know about it within minutes.
As a city, London is about as multicultural as it gets and it will happily take influence from whatever inspires it. Its breweries are no different: take Howling Hops in Hackney Wick for example. In the tall tanks stacked behind the bar, you'll see beers such the Czech inspired Howling Pils and plenty of US influenced beers such as Pale Ale No. 1, and the insanely tropical and juicy West Coast Special IPA.
I've been really impressed with the Howling Hops range ever since they moved from the tiny brewery underneath The Cock Tavern on Hackney's Mare Street to their state of the art facility in Hackney Wick. West Coast Special IPA has been the stand out beer for me so far. Those juicy, tropical notes I described earlier are astonishingly bright and defined, with flavours of lychee, mango and passion fruit being the most prominent. At this beer's end is a gigantic wave of dank, piney bitterness - those West Coast credentials really hitting home. In fact I'd go as far as to say this is one of the best UK examples of the style I've tried.
But don't worry, beers like this aren't going to take our British beer heritage away from us - they're just going to sit alongside and enhance it. In fact Howling Hops' Ruby Red is a fantastic modern interpretation of a classic British beer, I insist you try this too.
Music Pairing: The Champs - Tequila
At our tasting events in store, I always like to pair the beers we serve with some great music. I decided it was high time I started doing this with these posts too. I can't think of a better track to pair with this beer than The Champs' 1958 Cuban Mambo inspired anthem, Tequila. Stick this on after a few West Coast Specials and I guarantee that you'll be dancing on a bar top, just like Peewee Herman.
You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And you can get Howling Hops' stunning West Coast IPA #2 delivered to your door via our new online shop.