For Good Beer Hunting, I tackled this little notion: What compels companies and breweries to tweak the flavor of finished beer? Whether for educational or taste-elevating purposes, breweries and companies are constantly inventing new techniques and tools to help consumers reshape and reimagine their beer. A pint doesn’t always sit at the finish line of flavor. In fact, sometimes, it’s perched on the starting blocks—ready to race in unexpected directions. Interested in reading more?
For Good Beer Hunting, I take a deep dive into how American brewers are tapping into Belgian farming traditions to create compelling beers that distinctly speak of the land. It’s really interesting! I swear!
The last decade has witnessed a steady about-face in public perception of sometimes challenging, often misunderstood wild beers. They’ve gone from outcasts to lust objects, bottles of Cantillon revered as the high art of beer connoisseurship. Consumers now worship at the altar of Brettanomyces, flocking to festivals such as Crooked Stave’s What the Funk!?, Upland Brewing’s Sour Wild Funk Fest, and the Funk Collective Sour and Wild Beer Festival, which takes places in Charleston, South Carolina, this summer.
How did this ancient tradition take American take taste buds by storm? I tackle the topic for Good Beer Hunting.
Back in high school, I’d obsessively flip through my local record store’s racks for the freshest indie-rock darling, something to jingle-jangle my teenager ears just right. Fast-forward a few decades, and my obsession is now beer shops’ fridges, rustling through their cool, illuminated recesses for the fresh new thing.
That’s how, on a recent winter afternoon at Brooklyn’s Covenhoven, my gaze locked on a few foreigners clad in uncommon garb. Germany’s subtly smoky Schlenkerla Helles and Birrificio Italiano’s generously hopped Tipopils were canned, cold imports wearing American beer’s trendiest armor.
I palmed the cans, seeking the packaging information with an archaeologist’s fervor. Perhaps this was another case of contract brewing, Evil Twin or Omnipollo hiring breweries to pump out Stateside product. Schlenkerla’s label explained that the beer was brewed in Bamberg, Germany, and canned in Connecticut, while Tipopils’s label proclaimed the beer was brewed in Italy and canned fresh in Oxford, Connecticut. That city is the headquarters of their shared importer, B. United International.
Brewed overseas. Packaged stateside. Distributed on the double. These were aluminum unicorns, a dream made real by B. United. “The beers are brewed where they’re supposed to be brewed but have the freshness of a locally brewed beer,” says B. United packaging manager Ben Neidhart.
Lately, there's been a strange phenomenon: Folks have been feeding me loads of beer, then letting me talk on the radio. Fools, I know, but all in good fun. If you're craving my voice and thoughts, you can listen to me on Good Beer Hunting's latest podcast, as well as Beer Sessions Radio. On Beer Sessions, we talk extensively to Rockmill Brewery's Matthew Barbee, who runs one of the country's finest farm-focused breweries.