Monday, July 4, 2011

Useful News from Brugge and Clerkenwell.

What's it mean to be a new wave craft brewer in the global age? I don't know. Maybe ask the guys at Struise, the Belgians once made an American-style India pale ale specially for a pub in Sweden. Just to name an example.

Whatever you think of Struise beers--and plenty of geeks have been head-over-heels since first sip--the team behind them are obviously guys who think outside of the box. I'm not even talking about the beers themselves. I'm talking about things like opening the Struise webshop to reach customers directly, in an effort to undercut the eBay pirates who auction rare beers to desperate people at high prices.

Next up: A real brick-and-mortar Struise bottle shop in the heart of Bruges, complete with two taps for sampling the beers. According to the brewers' Facebook page, the idea is to serve all those beery travelers who'd love to visit the brewery but can't get out to Oostvleteren. More details later.

From Brugge to Clerkwenwell. From new wave craft brewer to new wave craft pub. Those who follow the British beer scene will already know about the Craft Beer Co., which opened last week in Clerkenwell. You can see its opening night draft list here (hat tip to the Babblebelt). It appears to add another world-class, internationally minded beer destination to the London scene.

I put internationally minded in italics because the draft list reminds me of some other places in other cities... like Moeder Lambic Fontainas in Brussels, ChurchKey in D.C., and we could think of lots of others if we tried. These are places with an eye toward artisanal beer as an international phenomenon, even as they keep their eyes on local strengths. Eventually I'll persuade you to stop blaming/thanking Americans for craft beer. Plenty of blame and credit to go around these days.

Best of all for pub crawlers: The Craft Beer Co. (82 Leather Lane) is easy strolling distance between Stonch's Gunmakers and Ye Olde Mitre. I suspect the hardest thing about trying to hit all three in a day, in whatever order, would be leaving the first and second ones.

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