“We Have to Fear for Craft Beer”: Breweries and Brexit

Article featured on Restamag.com

With the vote back in June 2016 for Britain to leave the European Union, the nation has been facing many economic and political hurdles that have rocked the entire country’s metaphorical boat through the past 2 and a half years.

However, on the smaller end, what about our beloved past time and hobby: craft beers and microbreweries? Profound legal strife aside, Brexit has harsh implication on imports and exports within the UK.

Consider the following: given that many of the raw materials necessary to facilitate microbreweries in the UK are imported from the rest of the E.U. (i.e., Hops from the USA, Yeast from France, etc.), the rising cost of importation combined with the sharp fall of the GBP suggest that our smaller companies will be lost in the current. Furthermore, larger conglomerates can bulk purchase their items thus swaying the market away from the little guys even further.

Drinking in London is expensive, but taking pictures isn’t!

In our global economy, these independent brewers will be forced to charge more for their product. With drinkers being asked to pay far more than £10.00/case, the question is being posed: will drinkers pay the price to support local? Or will the mass-produced, less expensive option run true?

Even deeper is the question of whether or not these microbreweries will sacrifice the quality of those hops and malt for more sustainable, local options at the cost of compromising the quality of the brew. There is an ongoing cost to the weight of Brexit, and the question of how much of the beer culture will be lost through the process.

Pubs, notorious for squeezing the pockets of breweries for higher profits, were already a source of concern for Brewers, who’s tight margins are all the more cinched. However, this was not the only big hurdle for small brewing companies. A quick flashback to 2016, we can remember the unusual summer that compromised the hops harvest, the key ingredient to our favorite craft beers. Yet, the current consumer demand is effervescent: the more hops, the better.

The culmination of all of these factors (Brexit, fall of GBP value, hops shortage) is demanding something new from consumers and brewers alike. Consumer’s favorite “hop”-y beers are going to come at a higher cost for our British craft beer lovers, and the tight margins for quality ingredients leave very little room for profit among brewers.

On the flipside, farmers located all across the US and E.U. can benefit strongly from their lack luster harvests as hop contracts surge in price and smaller breweries make a mad dash to harness as many ingredients as possible throughout the brewing season.

 So, what are we looking forward to in the years to come of Brexit? Here, at the beginning of 2019, we’re hopeful for decent hops harvests in late-June to early-July. We’re also less likely to be seeing up and coming English microbreweries while the GBP continues to fluctuate, and we’re going to be seeing a lot less of our favorite English microbrews (unless we’re planning to shell out the quid!)

Cheers and Happy (Hopeful) Brewing!

Milwaukee’s Breweries: A Local Guide

Article featured on Restamag.com

Milwaukee, home of the big names in beer (such as: Miller, Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz), is arguably the go to for the top shelf American Midwest brewery experience. Milwaukee’s history traces over 175 years of brewing (and drinking) some of America’s finest beers. There is no wonder that this old city has earned itself the badge of honor: ‘Brew City’!

However, with all these big names that we wear so proudly, I’d like to take it up a notch for my beer sommeliers who are looking to try some real craft brews from this time-honored city. If you’re tired of the Sprecher and Miller Brewery Tours, I’ve decided to list 5 of my own favorite breweries and microbreweries in the Milwaukee Metropolitan area that you just might want to make a pit stop at… or take a pub crawl through them all!

Try one, or try them all!

5. Big Head Brewing Co. (Website: https://bigheadbrewingco.com/)

Walking into Big Head Brewing Company, you’re going to love the industrial style tasting roomand their ever-rotating menu. A rotating menu, you say? That means if you don’t find something you love on the first visit, the return value is worth it! Settle back with a classic ale over a quick game of cornhole or spice it up and try Big Head’s War Head sour brew for a nostalgic kick back to your school days.  You’ll find Big Head in Wauwatosa, on the outskirt of the Milwaukee County area.

4. Black Husky Brewing (Website: http://www.blackhuskybrewing.com/)

Next, Black Husky Brewing holds a special place in my heart. Located in the Riverwest neighborhood on the East Side of Milwaukee, Black Husky was originally from the greater northern Wisconsin which is evident from the woodsy décor of their Milwaukee taproom. With each of the brews named after the huskies that the Wisconsin family had as companions, this brewery will constantly make you feel like one of the pack. My recommendation? If you have the chance, grab Black Husky’s Dogfather, an American Pale Ale, and settle into their patio seating for a nice end-of-day pint!

3. Urban Harvest Brewery (Website: https://www.urbanharvestbrewing.com/)

Moving closer to the southside of Milwaukee, if you’re looking for a diverse taste of small-batch beers, look no further than Urban Harvest Brewery. Urban Harvest boasts of fresh, handcrafted brews and it certainly shows! With a spacious and rustic style taproom,this brewery is bound to keep you coming to try every one of their seasonal and rotating beers. Take a sip of Urban Harvest’s year-round American Amber, Olde Towne Amber on a Saturday nightfor a gentle finish while watching the Mojo Dojo Comedy Show.

2. Lakefront Brewery (Website: http://www.lakefrontbrewery.com/)

The true soul of Milwaukee is Lakefront Brewery. Naming many of its brews after the surrounding neighborhoods (Check out their amber lager: Riverwest Stein), you can find this brewery situated perfectly on the river in downtown Milwaukee. Lakefront is beyond a classic in the Milwaukee area, so if you only have time to stop at one brewery: Lakefront takes the cheese. Speaking of cheese, be sure to stop down on a Monday for half off cheese curds with your hops!

1. Milwaukee Brewing Co. (Website: https://mkebrewing.com/)

As obvious as it might seem, no list would be perfectly complete without a solid mention of Milwaukee Brewing Company. With a philosophy that stays true to its roots, MKE Brewing uses local ingredients to keep their environment sustainable and fuel some of the most quality brews that Milwaukee can offer. You can find their breweries on both 2nd and 9th Street in downtown Milwaukee.

Not finding any one brewery speaking to you? Try ‘Milwaukee Ale House’

Located on the river, heart of Milwaukee on Water Street, come here if you’d like to try a variety. You’ll find some of the above listed breweries, in addition to some other Wisconsin classics!

Cheers and Happy Brewing!