A Different View From London

A couple of days ago, I posted a piece on All About Beer wherein I mentioned with some alarm the ubiquity of American-style beers in London.  I specifically name-checked The Kernel, and yesterday one of the brewers, Toby Munn, left a really thoughtful comment on the blog.  With his permission, I'm reprinting it in full.


I commented on your All About Beer page, but I like repeating myself. This is just regarding point 1. These are all valid points, and your concern over the health of British cask beer is not insignificant. But, I would like to point out that, although there are a few breweries and a few beers that are attracting headlines, there are still a huge amount of beers produced that are quintessentially British.

This is just my tiny little opinion, but I happen to think that the influx of outside influence is good for traditional beers and breweries. I think that the younger/newer drinkers are bringing with them a different, critical look to beers. On the one hand, traditional brewers are concerned that newer drinkers are just after a 'grapefruit hit' in their beers, and concerned with only IBUs and intensity of flavours. In the short term, this may be true, sadly. Long term, I think that these newer drinkers will understand more about the technicalities about what makes beer great, and the subtleties that makes beer great. To reference a post that I think is perhaps relevant, and almost certainly true.  [Note: Toby added that link, not me.]

I think that the introduction of these different styles and new flavours is only a good thing. These modern drinkers will have a fuller and more rounded view and opinion of beers, and are more critical in general. If we are to follow trends of the US, we will see that producers of truly great beer are in demand. This, I think, will happen here in the UK, and elsewhere. Actually, it is evident already.

The problem with many indigenous beers, whether in Britain, Germany, or, especially, Belgium, is that, after years and years of little progression, the only point of difference has been price point, and the only change has been a deterioration in standard. There are many traditional beers and breweries that are truly awful. And there are many that have stuck to their principals and are outstanding. I think with the newer drinkers, armed with more discerning taste buds, will raise the expectation of what good beer should be, irrespective of style, and make our tiny little world of beer a better place. Other opinions are, of course, available.

When you came to Britain in 2011, I am sure that you found many beers that were dreadful. Just because it is served from a cask does not make it good. Similarly, just because a beer is doused in Mosaic is no guarantee that it is any good.

Your concern for traditional styles is valid. It is not insignificant. But I believe that your concern will be proved to be moot.