One smaller feature comes courtesy of the Boston Globe, where a character called Gary Dzen writes a beer column called 99 Bottles. He picked up on a 'Top 25 Beer Cities' series by Zane Lamprey.
Zane Lamprey? Who he? Gary Dzen notes Lamprey is...
...host of television shows "Three Sheets”, “Drinking Made Easy”, and “Have Fork, Will Travel” [and] has made a career out of traveling and drinking. So he's more than qualified to come up with a list of the world's best beer-drinking cities.My mate who sent me Dzen's piece sent an accompanying note along the lines that he wasn't sure about London being worth a Top Ten place. I decided to dig a bit further and went to Lamprey's site, where each of his 25 selections gets a couple of paragraphs.
His Top Ten goes like this:
10. London, England
9. Boston, Mass
8. Denver, Colo.
7. San Diego, Calif.
6. Asheville, N.C.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
4. Portland, Oregon
3. Dublin, Ireland
2. Brussels, Belgium
1. Munich, Germany
Now, I'm not much for top tens or lists. They're subjective, even when they're on aggregating ratings fora like RateBeer or Beer Advocate. Still, London as a Top Ten World Beer City sounds like somebody is paying attention. Then I read Lamprey's citation. It goes like this
Having a pint in a pub is just as much a part of the English lifestyle as much as caring about the goings on of the Royal Family. The city is home to some of the oldest pubs in the world, where beer has always been present. Finding a pub in London with ale on draft is easier than finding a a red phone booth. There are dozens of breweries in London too. At the turn of the millennia, there were not as many options for local beer, but in the last decade that has changed. But it’s not all about large companies like it has been in recent years.I have a theory about Americans and British Beer. I think that, generally speaking, they're fascinated by our pubs and traditions, less so by our beer, and have a bit of a sanitised Disney view of our beer culture. Lamprey's piece doesn't really disabuse that. It's curious. Little kernels of understanding mixed up with some Mary Poppins nostalgia about telephone boxes, the Royal Family (bless 'em) and Shakespeare, and I imagine some CAMRA die-hards would be spluttering into their mild over his view of their role in the craft brew scene, although he's not entirely wrong. Like I said, kernels of understanding.
The craft brewing scene has gotten a nice boost from CAMRA, a growing group of revolutionaries pushing their Campaign for Real Ales (beers that have not been filtered or pasteurized), who celebrate and educate along the way. Although they appreciate their imports as well, there is a growing beer community and some sizable beer festivals which have garnered more interest in local beers. In the city where Shakespeare would once write and drink, then write about drinking, the only thing that’s changed is the quill.
Now, I suppose there's an argument that London isn't even the best beer city in the England, never mind tenth on the planet. I suppose we have to bear in mind this is for US consumption, and take some of Lamprey's views with a large pinch of salt. I posted a response on Lamprey's site about London (which was taken down). In it, I clarified some of his muddled history and suggested Dublin was hugely over-rated at Number 3. The Beer Nut would be better placed to comment on his views about that city, which contained this nugget...
It is the Dubliner’s love for beer, their strong culture around beer, and the sheer number of beer drinking songs that have come out of Dublin that have pushed it towards the top of this list.So, London as a Top Ten World Beer City, eh? Good news? Right or wrong? Whaddaya think..?