Why distribute your craft beer all the way across an ocean when you can just produce or license it over there? An interesting question now that U.S. craft breweries are being approached by the growing, thirsty demand for American craft beer outside the states.
Devils Backbone Brewing Co., for one, has jumped at the chance, forming a relationship with JD Wetherspoon pub to launch American IPA, the first of the brewery’s beers to be sold outside of the United States. The beer is an original Devils Backbone recipe showcasing American hops, but brewed especially for the English palate. The inaugural batch was crafted by Devils Backbone Brewmaster Jason Oliver at Banks’s Brewery in Wolverhampton, England, and will release on tap at 930-plus Wetherspoon pub locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland on Oct. 1.
The beer features a mix of English and classic American hops, which give it a bright, snappy, hop character. The English hop varieties, East Kent Goldings and Admiral, provide the underlying bitterness and flavor while the American varieties, added late in the process, fill out the flavor profile and give the beer a West Coast style citrus-pine nose.
Working at Banks’s allowed Oliver to try some different brewing methods. The beer is made using a single-infusion mash of Pale Ale malt and fermented in open vats, which is significantly different from Devils Backbone’s traditionally Germanic approach at home in the United States.
Devils Backbone American IPA will be served exclusively at all Wetherspoon locations throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. The beer will be offered on draft, rather than as a cask, which improves the sharpness of the hop flavors. Devils Backbone was impressed with their new retail partner’s commitment to selection and freshness. “We visited quite a few Wetherspoon pubs and I was struck by the number of options offered to consumers, even in the country pubs, and by the knowledgeable managers we met who really cared about the quality of the beverages they were serving,” explained COO Hayes Humphreys. “We’re confident that our beer will be well tended to.”
Devils Backbone Brewing is the largest craft brewery in Virginia, operating two breweries in central Virginia. Basecamp, which opened in 2008, is the company’s original brewpub and restaurant in Nelson County. The Outpost is a modern production brewery outside of Lexington. The company produces approximately 20 beer styles commercially, with many more experimental styles in production at Basecamp.
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