I travel for work. I travel a lot. Over the last 20 plus years, I’ve logged several million air miles and have been incredibly fortunate to have been able to visit many of the world’s old-school brewing meccas, including Pilsen, Munich, London, and Brussels to name just a few.
What I have found in my travels is that everything starts as a copy of something else. From there, innovation occurs. Brewers make beer styles their own. They make it their own original.
Over the past three years I have begun venturing out to emerging craft beer markets such as Tijuana, Ensenada, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, San Jose, Panama City, and Buenos Aires — and as I have explored, my senses have been opened to a world of new possibilities.
Interestingly, brewing ingredient decisions are largely made based on availability and price point, which in conjunction with local microorganisms—and in many geographies, the terroir of the brewing ingredients that are available to them—have led to brewers making an homage to the beer styles that they love with an amazing, localized twist.
As a result, what you might expect is some of the best that you have ever tasted. For me, this includes absolutely amazing IPAs and Stouts from Mexico, some of the best Pilsners that I have ever tasted from Panama, and an absolutely mind-blowing range of sours and wood aged beers from Brazil.
Behind it all, of course, are the amazing women and men that are changing how their local communities, and in several instances their countries, think and feel about beer. Much like the US craft beer market was 20 years ago, they are the pioneers, the innovators in a vast market of cheap, domestic lager.
My wish for you is that you can explore and enjoy the world of craft beer beyond your borders. And when you do, please be sure to seek out the brewers, the innovators, that are making it happen in their local market, and thank them for what they do.