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Good Beer Hunting

Sep 12, 2020

I’m Evan Rail, and you’re listening to the Good Beer Hunting podcast.

It’s September 2020, and the coronavirus pandemic is still raging on—and nowhere more obviously than in the United States, which has about 25% of the world’s reported cases, even though it is only home to about 4% of the world’s population. Because of that infection rate, for the first time in memory, U.S. citizens haven’t been able to travel to Europe, with almost all of the European Union countries currently closed to travelers coming from the United States. So when it comes to beer, what are we missing out on?

Although I’m originally from California, I’ve been living in Europe and writing about food and drink here for over 20 years. Normally, I’d spend a good part of my summer showing North American brewers and beer lovers around Prague, Czech Republic—my adopted hometown—or bumping into folks from back home at beer festivals and pubs in places like Brussels, Berlin, and Munich. I started thinking about what beer lovers really get out of a trip to Europe—what they’re missing out on, in other words, while the pandemic makes travel impossible, at least for now.

For this podcast I reached out to four friends in the U.S. who have spent quality time here in the Old World, including Joe Stange, managing editor of Craft Beer & Brewing magazine and the author of Good Beer Guide Belgium; and Annie Johnson, the 2013 American Homebrewers Association Homebrewer of the Year and a BJCP National Judge. I also talked to Aaron Johns, whose company, Taste Local Beer, used to run beer tours in Prague until he moved back to the West Coast a few years ago; and Good Beer Hunting’s own Jamaal Lemon, who toured across a bunch of European beer countries after winning a competition for bloggers from World of Beer in 2016.

I wanted to ask these folks what they missed about beer in Europe, and what they thought was valuable about their time here. I wanted to know what they learned and what they thought beer fans might miss out on if they just read an article or watched a video from Europe instead of traveling there themselves. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I wanted to know why this situation sucks.