UK craft beer on a par with US counterparts despite starting later
UK craft beers are already on a par with their US counterparts despite their late start, according to a brewer who has swapped Oregon for Berkshire.
Kyle Larson, who has recently been appointed head brewer at Siren Craft Brew after spending many years at Double Mountain Brewery in Oregon, told OLN: “I think the craft brewing scene in the UK is only really behind in volume and customer knowledge and awareness.
“For instance, on the west coast of the US, where I lived my whole life before moving over for this role, most people will know who the local craft brewers are. But in my new job here in Finchampstead people don’t know what Siren is, even in the few restaurants we have been to, which is odd to me.
“My initial observations are that this is because Siren is making a different beer to what the public is used to. It is new and the public hasn’t been educated about craft beer yet.
“It reminds me of the US craft brew scene in the beginning,” Larson said. “It’s all about educating the consumer. I’m sure that the scene is a bit more advanced in London though, as any scene that is budding tends to be in metropolitan areas.
“I think the UK is maybe 10 to 15 years behind the west coast, but only in volume and consumer awareness. On the other hand, the beer UK craft breweries are putting out is on par with the most innovative breweries in the US.
“Innovation in flavour is coming from all over the world. The only thing that will change is that as craft brewing is accepted in more countries across the world, more innovation will be seen in new places. I don’t think one or the other country will be more innovative again in my lifetime, they will just be different.
“I’m not sure what the different challenges are in the US as opposed to the UK. I know that the US has many robust local brewing guilds that advocate for craft brewers on governmental matters, help educate the public, and promote craft brewing through media and events.
“These guilds are huge factors in influencing the growth of craft brewing in general,” he said.
Larson also noted that in the US the tax system tends to favour craft brewing where it is based on volume, although a number of states levied higher taxes at higher abv levels.
He added: “Craft brewers make flavourful products that tend to be more alcoholic than mass produced beer. I personally like a tax on volume: the more beer you make, the more money you make, the more tax you should pay.”
Siren Craft Brew was founded in 2012.