As anyone who has studied beer will tell you, there's not a lot of company amongst the lofty "beer countries" of the world. Most beer textbooks will make mention of Germany, Belgium, the UK, and then the way the US and other countries have taken or modified those styles. Historically, it wasn't at all uncommon to walk into a well-stocked import section and see nothing but beers from these core countries.
But in case you didn't notice, things in the beer world have been changing, with an emphasis on "world." Countries that have never been known for their brewing history are suddenly hotbeds of beer innovation. Younger generations are bucking trends and opening up microbreweries deep in the heart of wine or liquor cultures. And the kicker about all of this is that at an increasing rate, they're really good.
So we hit the road to sample some wares, polled some industry experts whose job it is to be ahead of the curve on all things beer, and checked any preconceived notions to come up with a group of countries that can be considered the draft class of the next wave of global beer culture.
Even though it's host to a booming beer culture that has begun to attract international attention, Spain has yet to be welcomed into the inner circle of beer recognition. But with the way things are going, chances are it won’t stay that way for long. After getting off to a slower start in the late '80s, the past five years have seen a boom of epic proportions for Spanish beer. "Microcervecerías" have popped up from city centers in Cataluña, Madrid, and everywhere in between to the tune of over 200 for the country. It doesn't hurt that a surge in sales has followed as young people there veer away from drinking wine and toward beer. These days, it's not at all uncommon for popular brewers from around the world to swing through for collaborations with the country's top brewmasters.
What to try: Albero, Cervesa del Montseny, Edge Brewing