Global Brew

Written by
Luke Oscilowski
February 16, 2017
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Take a whirlwind trip around the beer world with some top picks from different continents.

Would it surprise you to hear there’s such a thing as International Beer Day? For the past nine years, International Beer Day has very much been a thing. And it’s not necessarily as contrived as you might think. On the first Friday of August, the idea is simply for people to come together with friends and enjoy a beer together, celebrate the people who make it and the incredible diversity of the wider beer world.

Thanks to consolidation and rationalisation of breweries all across the world, beer has had a tough few decades. But it is all changing. The beer world is now more colourful, creative and cooperative than it has ever been, and that genuinely is worth celebrating. So here are a handful of picks to get you started this International Beer Day…

Australian flavour

The Australian beer scene is as healthy as it has ever been, with a large (and rapidly growing) number of breweries coupled with an overall increase in quality. If you were to choose just one beer to represent Australia on International Beer Day, it’s an impossible task. So perhaps it’s a good opportunity to give a Guernsey to a couple of the older hands of the Australian beer world. In that regard there is no match for the tale of Coopers and their more than 150 years of brewing. The Pale and Sparkling ales are untouchable icons but, if you want to go a little outside the norm, their Best Extra Stout is one of the South Australian brewer’s best. It’s also worth giving a nod to The Lord Nelson which, in 2016, celebrates 30 years of brewing and an astonishing 175 years of continuous operation as a pub in The Rocks in Sydney.

European style

Europe is a beer lover’s dream in which each country has its own specialty. The best way to explore such a diverse continent is with good food and good company, so gather around some of each and get cracking. Because everyone’s tastes are slightly different there are few rigid rules to beer and food matching, but here are some ideas to start exploring:

Bread, butter and Budejovicky Budvar – Pretty well every food seems to pair well with this beloved Czech lager, so start as simple as it gets and enjoy it with the freshest bread you can find, doused with a good layer of butter.

Wurst and Weihenstephan – The famous German sausage has probably been served up alongside beer from Weihenstephan – the world’s oldest brewery – for centuries, so why change a winning formula?

A pint for pudding – Chocolate and stout tend to go well together but, for something a bit out of the ordinary, try pouring a pint of Guinness then dropping in a scoop of ice cream to create a stout float.

Cheese and Chimay – Overindulgence goes hand in hand with the almost impossible complexity of Belgian beers, so a cheese course seems a good fit. As a general rule; the stronger the beer, the stronger the cheese.

American connection

The USA is credited by many with the recent revival of craft beer. While Europeans have always at least managed to hang on their traditions, for decades almost everywhere else in the world – America included – followed a path that led towards fewer but larger breweries producing largely generic beer. It is often cited that the release of Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale was the moment that broke the mold and opened thousands of eyes to what beer could be. The subsequent rise of hop dominant pale ales in the American beer scene morphed into the popularity of intensely hoppy IPAs but, nowadays, things are coming back a notch as Session IPAs – beers with big hop aroma and flavour but lower in alcohol – are gaining a larger following. More and more Australian brewers are getting behind this trend with their local interpretations, though it’s still rare to find American versions Down Under – if you do want a taste of what’s happening stateside, Speakeasy’s Session IPA is one to go for.

Asian influence

When you’re thinking about places at the forefront of excitement in the beer world, Asia is unlikely to be one of them. Big brand lagers are so utterly dominant across the Orient and subcontinent that it’s hard to imagine anyone daring to be different. But, as with so many other parts of the world, things are changing and you can get a good beer experience everywhere, from the almost peerless food and beer pairings of the izakaya in Tokyo to a beachfront brewpub in Nha Trang, pubs in the Philippines to breweries in Bangalore. But since few of these go beyond their local borders, for a taste of Asian brewing it’s light and clean lagers all the way; Asahi from Japan, Tiger from Singapore, Tsingtao from China, Kingfisher from India, Singha from Thailand – just take your pick.