There has always been a “special relationship” between the US and the UK – in everything from politics to music, and most recently, to beer. Good beer. Musically-speaking, the influence moved to the west in several waves. From the first British Invasion (think The Beatles and The Rolling Stones), to the second (on to The Police and Wham!), to perhaps even the third (Amy Winehouse and Adele), Americans have long had a love affair with British musical genius. Iconic bands like Led Zeppelin influenced entire genres of American music and culture…70’s hard rock, 80’s heavy metal, and everything to follow.
As for influences in the other direction, Led Zeppelin’s lead singer Robert Plant, one of the most significant singers in the history of rock, credits American rock n’ roll (Elvis) and the blues as his inspiration. This taste (pardon the pun) for American culture, specifically that of the Deep South continued on to the next generation in his soccer-player-turned-musician-turned-brewmaster son, Logan Plant. Influenced not only by his father, but through the U.S. tours with his former band in Brooklyn, NY, Logan found what he now believes to be his true calling…craft beer. He has since brought his love of American flavor back to London, turning his home-brewing hobby into the popular Beavertown Brewery and Duke’s Brew & Que barbeque joint, leading the way in London’s craft beer renaissance.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Logan during the recent Craft Brewer’s Conference, hosted annually by the craft beer industry’s biggest champions, the Brewers Association. I caught wind that he was in town through his brewing collaboration with Dogfish Head and Dieu Du Ciel on Twitter (nerd alert, I know). I actually felt a bit like a beer groupie, recognizing him from the brewing pictures. Logan was, in fact, the first person I saw at the conference. Without collecting myself long enough to think of a cooler opening line, shouted “Hey Logan!” across the room. Smooth. He handled it in stride, despite the early hour, and the many late night parties hosted around town the night before (hey, it is a beer conference, after all!).
Thanks to Logan for sitting down to chat with The Booze Bin about Beavertown, the U.K. craft beer movement, his inspirations and his dad’s favorite beer. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation.
“There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west” ~Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven
Why did you choose to collaborate with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head?
“Looking west to our inspirations, particularly my inspirations with America itself in food and beer, Dogfish Head is a key player. Their ethos and the way they push their recipes, and just their whole thinking top to toe; they seem like a really good, organic company making great beers.”
Newfound Art Form
How did you find the transition from music to beer?
“They have a lot in common actually. [Beer] is an art. Brewing is an expression, as was being a singer in a band. It’s really similar. To be able to pour your own beer, serve people, and for them to be turned on and give you feedback…and, most of the time, enjoy it …it’s a really good feeling.”
Source of Inspiration
Which other brewers do you admire?
“We make a porter (Smog Rocket, his flagship smoked porter), and I found inspiration from one of the first to make this style, Stone Brewing Co., as well as other American craft breweries, like Bear Republic, Flying Dog and New Belgium.”
Who’s Drinking Craft Beer in the UK?
Logan thought there was a “wide demographic” of people “really into their craft beer, who have some disposable cash and want to buy things they’re passionately into – things that stimulate them with flavors.” He continued to say, “The scene in London is very happening at the moment, so there are a lot of people jumping on that. We were actually recently voted one of the best new breweries in London [by The Telegraph].”
For more on the raging London craft beer scene, check out this recent article in The New York Times.
The Voice of Beavertown
Do you believe in social media?
“It’s a massive part of what we do and it’s great to keep people informed. It’s almost like a story. Every day in a brewery is like a story, and it is fascinating stuff, I think.”
What is Your Death Row Beer?
After reflecting for a while, he replied “the beer that I always go back to when I go home is a very simple, traditional English best bitter. It’s brewed in the Midlands where I’m from. We brew a certain way, keeping quite a bit of sweetness in there. It’s quite hoppy, but there’s this sweet, hoppy thing going on. It’s like drinking honey. It is delicious!” Influence or not, I guess we all want to come home for our final sip.
I ended my interview just as smoothly as it began. So, what’s your Dad’s favorite beer?
“Banks’s Best Bitter” he replied, without missing a beat. I guess the only thing better than your son becoming a professional soccer player, or following in your footsteps, is for him to find his calling making really good beer.
Stay tuned for more beer musings as we continue our special Booze Bin Craft Beer series over the next few months.