I always enjoy the British and American Ale round of the World Beer Championships, because it’s great to see how American efforts compare to their British cousins within the same style. What emerges is an interesting snap shot of the import ale market: traditional, session ales that one would expect from the Old World, along with more experimental, perhaps American-influenced ales. And, on the domestic front, a continuation of the ascent to the summit of Mount Hop-Olympus for some, but fortunately tempered by a more mature sense of balance on the way up.
Look at the Scottish Ale category, for instance. Of the top four beers, two were from the United States and two from Scotland. Samuel Adams Scottish Ale (93 points) and Oscar Blues Brewery’s Old Chub Scottish Ale (94 points) were both distinctively American in their malt and hop profiles, but not overly hopped and finely balanced like their tartan-clad mates, Traquair House Ale (94 points) and the Orkney Brewery’s Red MacGregor Ale (93 points). And, on the adventuresome edge, the exotically flavorful Innis & Gunn Brewing Co.’s Oak Aged Beer Original (90 points), also from Scotland, takes a page out of U.K. brewing history, with maybe a nod to the U.S. craft brewers obsession de jour, barrel-aged beers.
Other notables from both sides of the Atlantic included Goose Island IPA (94 points), Eugene City Brewery Track Town Triple Jump Pale Ale (93 points), Moorhouse’s Brewery Pendle Witches Brew (93 points), and Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA (a platinum medal at 96 points), Full Sail IPA (94 points), Moorhouse’s Brewery English Owd Ale (94 points), Rogue Ales Imperial Red Ale (94 points), and Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Nut Brown Ale (93 points).