Strange Brew: The Day The BBC Went Beer

Strange Brew: the riff to 60s supergroup Cream’s opens BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme. And as the intro to Eric, Jack and Ginger’s timeless guitar anthem is replaced by the opening teaser quotes of what the programme will be about, the strange brew in question is not going to be tea; it is an altogether more significant half hour, signifying the day the BBC takes beer seriously.

On Sunday 23 March The Food Programme’s Dan Saladino gave over the whole of the 30 minutes of this long-running and respected food magazine programme to beer. More specifically, “Dan Saladino finds out why America’s brewing scene is a growing influence on British beer.”

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And obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be happily reporting it, the spotlight of the BBC falls on the side of the US brewing to show the innovations of craft brewing that are giving ideas to some of the microbreweries in the UK. This is where unsuspecting Radio 4 listeners get to hear about the barrel aged beers, the solera system micro-brews, the new hops, and the new styles of beers coming from America. Strange brews to most people, perhaps, but all part of what is described as the evolution of beer.

That this subject matter is being presented on The Food Programme is significant. It isn’t a trend magazine show about the hip new fads coming out of Hoxton, nor is it a populist TV Show full of celebrity chefs. The Food Programme is for people who are serious about their food and drink. And, while one 30-minute programme.cannot break any wine hegemony, craft beer’s very association with food is on the right track and feels like something of a triumph.

Strange brew? You tell me. Listen to the podcast.
BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme: The New Beer Frontier podcast