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It may seem like a long time ago, but at one stage, beer did not have the best image and it certainly wasn’t seen as exciting. The two big stereotypes were beardy cask ale fans and lager louts, neither of which particularly represented the world of beer and certainly didn’t help to make it cool.
The last decade or so, however, beer has changed. There’s been a resurgence of interest in beer styles, brewing techniques, grains and hops. Sales of beer from the mega-brewers that were once pub staples have fallen sharply. Huge numbers of people choose beer as a first choice and they’re far more discerning than the stereotypes that went before them.
When interest in small, niche breweries picked up a few years ago, it was peculiar that people seemed very focussed on hops. Hops in beer are important; they add aroma, flavour, depth and act as a preservative, but the numbers of hop-forward beers seemed to explode. IBU ratings – a measure of bitterness – seemed to be dialled up to 99 and the beers with the ‘cool factor’ were all IPAs.
Since then, things have calmed down. Fewer breweries go out of their way to make super-hopped beers and the new, trendier styles are more relaxed; even IPAs have seen the addition of the ‘New England’ style, which is a made-up type of slightly sweeter, less bitterly hopped IPA.
This reduction of hop focus set us thinking about the subtleties of beer; overpowering a beer with hops makes it all about the hops and nothing about the rest of the brewing process. It’s akin to putting handfuls of chopped Naga Chilis into a curry – at that point the curry could be made of polystyrene because the only thing you can taste is the heat of the chili.
It’s no secret that Green’s use Belgian recipes for inspiration, as Belgium has a near unimaginable array of beer styles. The craft beer revolution was more understated in Belgium, as they’ve always kept the principles of craft beer and generally speaking, they don’t focus on hops in the same way as has been very popular elsewhere. Instead the focus is on brewing, the use of ingredients and the change in flavour by altering parts of the brewing process. Hops are used more as a way to highlight and accentuate certain characteristics in the beer.
If the rest of the world is coming round to the fact that hops aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of beer, are we about to see a focus on the rest of the ingredients of beer? Green’s have long been an advocate for throwing out the rule book that says “Step 1. Barley”, instead using Buckwheat, Sorghum, Millet, and even brown rice to vary the flavours of the final beer. Take a look at our brewing process from alternative grains https://www.glutenfreebeers.co.uk/our-brewing-process/ . If people are no longer hop-focussed, is it time to start to look a little further afield with your beer choices to find truly experimental styles? You could just discover how using different grains and bases affects flavour and leaves you with something truly remarkable. A good starting point would be Green’s Discovery, the first gluten free beer in Europe, produced from alternative grains https://www.glutenfreebeers.co.uk/shop/product/discovery/