I have been in the USA for just over a year now. I have found many good IPAs, and many good stouts. Brown beers, or rather beers resembling the sort of beer I could easily find back home (in the UK) are somewhat harder to come by. When I do come by them, many don’t live up to what I was drinking for over 10 years of my life.
This makes me think that brown beer, or rather an English Bitter in this case, is something I (and possibly many others) take for granted. It is one of those styles that most breweries have in some shape or form, and more often than not, it will be their best seller.
There’s a good reason for this. A well balanced bitter is often the choice of a drinker who wants to spend a long session enjoying a beer or two over a few hours. A number of 4% bitters is going to be much more palatable than the same number of 7% stouts or IPAs. For those of a certain age, whose early beer drinking days were formulated on a limited selection of “boring brown beers”, returning to them on occasion can provide comfort, and also a reference point for the wide range of other beers available today.
As for English Bitter style beers in the US, I think the problem is one of dispense. Whilst lagers and IPAs are suited to being dispensed by keg, I think beers like English bitters (and to a lesser degree stouts) are much better dispensed on cask. As I’m now some distance from the nearest bar that serves cask, I guess I’ll just have to make do.
At least there’s the option of Fuller’s London Pride in bottles…