British Hops are unique – Goldings and Fuggles can combine to produce great cask-conditioned beer. However modern craft beer is often built on the US ‘big four’: Amarillo, Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe – along with Southern-Hemisphere favourites like Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin.
This leaves problems for craft brewers in the UK – on the one-hand they celebrate local beer, but they themselves struggle to get the flavour they want out of locally grown hops. In the long-run, Bramling Cross, Ernest, Endeavour and Jester (and their daughter varieties) may generate the kind of interesting flavour profiles which brewers are after – there could even be a shift in taste towards more drinkable session beers which use British hops. In the short-term what is a brewer to do though? Cloudwater and Magic Rock deserve respect for using UK extract (of Pilgrim and Target respectively) early on in the boil for alpha.
Sure – brewers can buy bitterness from CTZ or Herkules more cheaply, but buying British means that UK hop growers can stay alive to fight another day. Buying UK alpha hops is an easy way for craft brewers to support their local farmers, and ensure that our breeding programs survive to support the next generation of craft brewers.