Jean Van Roy couldn’t have anticipated the answer he would get when he asked American brewers who had brought him distinctly American hops how much he should add to his boiling kettle.
Brewers of New American Beers have been heading to the east side of the Atlantic for more than two decades to taste traditionally brewed beers and learn how they are made. Call it the inspired visiting the inspiration.
The first portion of Amarillo hops he dropped in was already more than he’d usually use. He looked at perhaps 10-fold more in the remaining bags. Then he looked at the Americans. “How much?” he asked.
They didn’t hesitate, replying in unison: “All of it.”
If Roy didn’t already understand that these five American brewers who visited Belgium in March were different, he must have at that moment.
Brewers of New American Beers have been heading to the east side of the Atlantic for more than two decades to taste traditionally brewed beers and learn how they are made. Call it the inspired visiting the inspiration. Seldom, however, do they arrive with a large supply of their own beer and hand out samples to both brewers and consumers. Seldom do they end up with their photos accompanying stories on the front page of local newspapers, nor do they attract television crews who want to do interviews.
Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione came up with the idea for the trip as part of “research” for his next book, Extreme Brewing (due from Rockport Publishers in the fall). It wasn’t hard to talk Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing, Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing, Adam Avery of Avery Brewing and Rob Todd of Allagash Brewing into joining him on the trip.
“We look forward to sharing our beers with them,” Calagione said before going. “We’re not saying our stuff is better than yours or anything like that. We want to recognize they are the Mecca.”
Delivering the keynote speech at the Craft Brewers Conference in Seattle several weeks after returning, Calagione made another point, “We knew we weren’t just representing the five breweries present but everyone in this room as we turned more and more people on to the amazing beers being made all across this country.”
Earlier in the same speech, Calagione drew an analogy between the revolution in American beer than began in earnest in the 1980s and changes in music—taking his electric guitar and electric backing band onto a folk stage—that Bob Dylan sparked in the 1960s.