It was bound to happen: brewers were going to remember that a long, long time ago, people made beer using things other than hops to flavor the beer. NPR has caught up with some of those people and I’m personally really glad to see this trend coming. People have frequently made interesting things by using what’s around them and that has been one of the great qualities of travel: the opportunity to see how people innovated with what they had. The internet has compressed some of this-you can see many structures and art without going to to the city-and the convenience of modern transport has muddied other aspects: you can get food from places very far away and all but recreate signature dishes. In regards to brewing, some of you may not be aware that to capture the appropriate style for certain beers, brewers often doctor the water to replicate the appropriate conditions. In Portland, this means adding calcium to the water to get the appropriate mouthfeel for stouts.
To be fair, I don’t think this article is spotlighting a huge innovation so much as it is people reclaiming a good idea but I hope this good idea helps broaden the kinds of ales we get, as opposed to merely contributing to the ‘hops arms race’ that often plagues new beers, especially in the NW.