Centuries of Beer

From the Producer, David Page: Michael Ferguson is in England this week on a tour of pubs and breweries with other craft beer professionals. And my envy meter is off the charts.

I lived in London back in the mid ‘80s. When I first arrived there, I simply wasn’t into beer (didn't hate it, didn't love it, never really thought much about it). But my office in the NBC News bureau was on the second floor of a building on Tottenham Court Road ABOVE A PUB! And professional standards were different there than they had been back in the states. Drinking on the job wasn’t a problem. And since, because of the time difference between London and New York, we did much of our work between six pm and midnight, it just seemed natural to have a pint by your side while crashing a breaking news story for Nightly News. In fact, once a week someone would come up from the pub to collect all the glasses. This experience was my gateway into good beer. I didn't understand what a beer engine was but my default drink was a real ale that came out of one.

And as I travelled Europe in my job, my horizons widened. Germany. Belgium. Czechoslovakia. Again, everyday beers that were fabulous. And expected. The local mindset was, “Of course beer should taste this way.” Did this experience make me particularly knowledgeable about beer? Not at all. My education didn’t begin ‘til I met Michael years later. In fact, I regret the fact that I, like the locals, took the beers I was drinking for granted. I didn’t think about beer and food pairings, for example. At Oktoberfest I didn’t take the time to compare one beer against another – though I did my best to try them all. And somehow, while enjoying Belgian ales, I never ventured into sours, which have become some of my favorite beers on earth.

It’s fascinating to hear that European brewers are now taking their lead from American craft brewers, doing more with hops, daring to put a twist on traditional recipes, But from my perspective, dear Europeans, please don't stray too far. What you've done for centuries is just fine by me.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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