Brews from the Little Guys

If you ask my wife, she might tell you that our two sons led me astray (caused me to do something foolish) a few years ago. She and I frequently enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. But neither of us had ever developed a taste for (learned to enjoy) beer. That changed one Saturday afternoon a few years ago when the boys invited me to join them at a small pub (bar, most often used in British English) near where we live.

Around the world, beer is the third most popular drink after water and tea. It’s been around (existed) for thousands of years. The earliest chemical evidence of beer, from about 3200 BC, was found in western Iran. And the Code (laws) of Hammurabi, from Babylon (in modern Iraq) in about 1700 BC, included laws that regulate (control) beer and businesses that serve beer.

According the recent documentary movie Beer Wars, 78% of the beer drunk in the U.S. is made by only three companies – Coors, Millers, and Anheuser-Busch. It’s mass-produced (made in large quantities), like cars and many other things. So where does the other 22% come from? Most of it is imported, but about 5% comes from the little guys (small businesses), from what are known as (called) microbreweries.

A microbrewery is a brewery (a place where beer is made) that produces a limited (small) amount of beer, much less than the three large mass-producers. Some microbreweries are associated with restaurants. For example, most of the BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse locations in the U.S. include a brewery that produces the beer that is sold at that restaurant. A brewhouse or brewpub is a business that brews and sells beer on their premises (the building or property used by a business).

According to Wikipedia, the term microbrewery originated (began) in the U.K. in the late 1970s. And it spread to the U.S. a few years later. Microbreweries are also known as craft, artisan, or boutique breweries. Craftsmen and artisans are people who do skilled work and often make things with their hands. Boutique refers to a small shop that sells a particular type of product or products made by a specific company.

Not too long ago, the website GOOD published a map of the U.S. that shows the favorite craft beers from each state. Only one – Idaho – failed to nominate a favorite! Craft beers are becoming very popular in the U.S. and, if you read the comments about the map, craft beer drinkers are very passionate (have strong feelings) about their beers.

When I joined my sons that Saturday afternoon, this is the world they introduced me to — the world of imported and craft beers. They are both connoisseurs (someone who knows a lot about something) and frequently recommend new beers for me to try. I still don’t drink a lot of beer, but I’ll admit that I occasionally enjoy one, especially with them. And my wife doesn’t really seem to mind (care or is upset).

Someone is sure to ask if I have a favorite. It’s a hard question to answer, but if I have to pick one today, I’d probably say Chimay Bleue (Blue) from Belgium. It’s brewed by the monks (a community of religious men living together) of Scourmont Abbey, a Trappist monastery (a place where monks live) in the Belgian town of Chimay. They’ve been brewing and selling ale, or beer, since 1862 and making cheese for sale since 1876.

~ Warren Ediger – creator of Successful English, where you can find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo of The Red Shoot, a brewpub in England, used under Creative Commons license.


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24 Responses to Brews from the Little Guys

  1. Betty says:

    Thank you very much indeed, Warren, for this mouthwatering topic.

    I thought the picture of the pub looks familiar, then I realised it was a brewpub in England called The Red Shoot, no wonder!

    The outside of a countryside pub is always very peace and quiet during the day time, but a very busy pub in a city centre can give you a very different picture. I prefer the day time countryside pub to any pub at night.

    I think it is not a foolish thing to accept your sons’ invitation to a pub and to the tasty beer, Warren. But it would be foolish to introduce a pub and the tasty beer to your sons.

    By the way, I use beer as a medicine to relieve stress occasionally – really, really occasionally, I don’t need stress relief that often. One of the ingredients in beer is hops, which has a beneficial effect if you use it appropriately.

    I will definitely come back to talk more about beer and pub if I have more time later, perhaps tomorrow?

  2. Elvis Johnny says:

    thank you warren for sharing us such a interesting story and experience of your.

    i actually didn’t quite familiar with brewpub until seeing your real essay.

    i thought i need to be looking for more of related topics of beer in China,

    and then share some more details for your.

  3. emiliano says:

    Nice photo Warren, also it´s an interesting topic for the young people.
    By my side I know nothing about this subject, as there is a long time since the last time I go to a bar and drink a cold beer.
    Here, living in a hot summer country people of my age used to drink a very cold beer at a bar and we called them “cañas”
    as being little long glasses the customs was to drink two or three rounds of beers every one of them was paid by a different
    There was usual also that the whole family were at a bar having the adults some beer and the children a coke or another
    refresh, all the drinks were accompanied by some appetizers like shrimp or some Spanish tortilla rations.

    These kind of food was called “tapas” and several cities of Spain were famous by their “tapas” always accompained by a nice
    cold beer or a good glass of wine.

    It was another time when going to a bar was cheaper than now.

    I don´t have any knowledge about any microbrewery here in this country, but I have not any reason or opinion about this
    It´s possible that they could exist but I know nothing with respect to this business.

    Thank you very much Warren, I think you and your wife may enjoy very much having a nice glass of good beer with your
    A glass of good wine is marvelous with a good meal, I think it´s the best, but a cold beer (caña) with a “tapa” can be a pleasure of the gods
    if you are with the family or some friends in a nice pub or bar.


  4. Hilario says:

    Dear ESL´s fellows: Let me introduce myself as another beer lover now quitted because of the bad quality of the massbrewery beer brands at least down here in Spain. I remember years ago when brewers´s facilities were located regionally, also they served a particular market zone and doing quite a good job. Suddenly mergers began and multinationals were doing take-overs, and then they were jeopardizing the authenticity of the beer product. It seemed sometimes as if marketing efforts were aimed to change consumer´s quality perceptions by means of mass advertising and other promotion resources. I suppose, here, we could also talk about macrobrewery in the sense that we have even much more of the unbalanced market repartition between the big guys and the little ones because more than 90% of the beer spanish market is dominated by also three big ones. On the other hand, this is a wine country in terms of beverage production but we don´t have any sort of microcellars doing a similar rol and the macros are also doing the same distortion on the authenticity of spanish wine, they winemake it accordingly to global consumption trends and they are loosing a lot of the good spanish wines features, aromas and bouquets. Anyway, what I find more interesting is Betty´s quotation about the beneficial effects of the hops as ingredient in brewing beer. I´ve heard that this natural floration is very good not only for fighting nervousness and stress but also for general mood (blood pressure control, digestive functions and so forth) and that it´s even better in terms of effectiveness when it is ingested by drinking beer instead of being taken in capsules.

  5. I’d like to add a brief historical note: The idea of a pub, or public house – a place where the town-people would gather to eat, drink, and talk – began in England. But it has grown rapidly in the U.S. in the last few years, along with the growth of microbreweries. According to Wikipedia, the first U.S. brewpub opened in 1982; there were five in 1986; and in 2006 there were almost 1,000 brewpubs in the U.S. In early American history, they were called brewery taverns.


  6. Suzanne says:

    Thank you Warren.

    When I read the message from Emiliano I had a good memory: tapas.
    Long ago, I went to visit my best friend who has lived in Spain, in Valencia. She worked there for a few years. She introduced me to the pleasures of eating tapas and I loved these appetizers.
    Sometimes I go to eat some tapas in a Spanish restaurant in Montreal. For sure I prefer a glass of wine with them, maybe a beer would be good too, but I am not a fan of beer.

    Have a good day everybody,


  7. Sanaz says:

    Very interesting!
    Now I found out why I like beer so much. It was in my blood from my ancient ancesters!!!!:)

  8. emiliano says:

    Suzanne, that´s right, may be one of the most typical characteristics of this country Spain that all our visitors love to know
    are “las tapas”.
    Nearly all the cities have their own areas of bars and tapas wich are different from other places or cities.

    Years ago, as Hilario said, every zone of the whole country have their own type of beer but now all are similar, five or six
    marks everywhere.
    I liked tapas with a glass of good wine as you said Suzanne.
    In Analucia, the south region of Spain, lot of people make their meals tasting some good tapas with a nice Manzanilla or
    Montilla, also an appropriate Jerez suits perfectly well to an incredible amount of different tapas or pinchos.
    (you may call them “tapas”or “pinchos” it depends the type of food or the place you are).
    Spanish tortilla is always called “a pincho” of, but if there are several fry fish, anchovies or prawns you may ask for
    “una racion de….” (a ration of….anchovies, mushrooms, or which ever good appetizers you may see.

    Good weather, sun, blue sky, easy way of living, not any hurry, to much to talk,…that is the best Spain.
    The Spain I love, the country that sure I would miss if we were out from here.

    It´s funny that even “Gwyneth Paltrow” the famous actress, who where living in Spain with a family near Toledo, said
    something about the nice tapas she could tasted when she was studying in Spain living with a spanish family.
    It seems that she and you have a very good memories about these kind of appetizers, yes they are very nice and even better
    the easy way of living among friends when lot of families and friends are in a bar talking and eating good tapas, pinchos y

    Warren, I like what you said about the Pubs in USA, it seems also nicer places to talk and have a good genuine jar of beer, but you
    need also some of the Spanish “tapas” to be the perfect place to spend a good time with the family or friends.

    Thank you Suzzane and Warren, good nice talking.


  9. emiliano says:

    Sorry friends, Andalucia…
    I have mistakes even writing my own language.


  10. Betty says:

    I am very fond of this topic because I love a glass of beer, especially when I travel on plane – must be because it is free on board of long haul flights.

    I do not drink regularly mainly because I have to drive quite often and I have to be a responsible driver and so drinking is not something I can do at any time. Another reason is that I learned that Chinese have a lower alcohol tolerance. I want to preserve my liver in order to live longer, or if I happen to donate my liver, I want it to be usable (sorry I hope I have not put people off by this revelation).

    Every time when I gathered with some English friends in England to have a glass of wine, I used to tell them I did not have the same liver as them and thus I should not drink as much as them. My friend argued that I needed to practice drinking more in order to be good at drinking. Of course I would not believe in her, there is one modern Chinese saying: ‘when someone else offer alcohol, you offer your life’.

    In order to write something here, I searched the internet to find out more about alcohol vs Chinese. The wikipedia has once again helped me solve my puzzle, in the ‘Alcohol tolerance’ it says:

    ‘An estimated one out of three people in East Asian countries have an alcohol flush reaction, a condition where the body cannot break down ingested alcohol completely because it lacks the genetically coded enzyme that performs this function in the bodies of drinkers with “European” tolerance levels. Flushing, or blushing, is associated with the erythema (reddening caused by dilation of capillaries) of the face, neck, and shoulder, after consumption of alcohol’.

    Interestingly, my friend was also right when she said I just needed to practice drinking more to be good at it, because, as the wikipedia pointed out:

    ‘The high alcohol tolerance in Europeans and some other ethnic groups has probably evolved as a consequence of centuries of exposure to alcohol in established agricultural societies’.


    Thank you very much indeed, Hilario, for further explaining the goodness of hops which is one of the ingredients in beer.

    I remember seeing hops in ‘Eden Project’ in Cornwall, England. Eden Project is an educational charity which transformed a disused clay mine in Cornwall into a rich, global garden where people can learn about nature and get inspiration about the world around them.

    Beer lovers would stop and admire this plant, I was one of this plant’s admirer.

    Cheers, my friends at Let’s drink to the success of our teachers’ effort in helping us improve our English faster.

  11. emiliano says:

    Very sorry again, reading my Spanish post I have seen another mistake……incredible.
    Raciones, not “raziones”……a big, too big orthographic mistake for a Spanish person like me.

    It´s sure I can´t teach any Spanish at all, sorry friends.

  12. Betty says:

    Thank you, Emiliano, thank you, Suzanne, I am so interested to read your comment about ‘las tapas’.

    I like trying famous foods around the world, las tapas is definitely on my list of must-try food now.

    Talking about must-try food, Forbes Magazine’s ‘Must-Try Foods Of The World’ article by Ruchika Tulshyan says:

    ’If you’re anywhere in Spain, you must try Manchego, an aged sheep’s milk cheese named for the La Mancha region, also home of Don Quixote. Manchego has an intense flavor, so enjoy it solo with bread, served with olives and meat or accompanied by a full-bodied red wine–a Rioja makes sense.

    Barcelona is part of Catalunya, a region in Spain that has a very distinct culture and cuisine. Must-haves include patatas bravas, crisp-fried potatoes with a secret sauce, and mel i mato, a curd cheese and honey dessert cooked in an earthenware pot. Even if you’re rushing on an overnight trip through Barcelona, don’t leave without sampling these two dishes!’

    Some said after consumption of alcohol, people start talking more, I have not been drinking at all, and I think my friends here have not been drinking either. But this topic about beer has made us talk more already.

    One of the best things about this website is: we don’t just learn English, we learn about things in the whole world.

    Thank you again, Warren, for guiding us to talk with English.

  13. Tania says:

    Hi! I have not known that around the world , beer is the third most popular drink after water and tea.
    Yes, I enjoy a glass of cold beer in the summer time. But my favorite drink is the mineral water.
    A curiosity for me: its origin was found in Iran and Iraq BC.

    Best wishes,


  14. Tania says:

    Hi! Thanks to English Cafe 229 we know the words and their pronunciation: to brew beer, brewer (beer maker), brewery(the place where the beer is made), brewery taverns.
    And now new words: microbrewery, brewhouse, brewpub. How can I memorize so many words?…
    I like this phrase “little guys” for small businesses.
    Thank you for the meaning of the word “mass-produced”

  15. Tania says:

    Hi! We use the phrase “lex talionis” or “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” without to know or to remember from our History lessons that this is the Code of Hammurabi, Babylonian law code with 282 laws.
    Thank you, dear Warren, for the Code of Hammurabi , today on display in the Louvre , in Paris.

  16. emiliano says:

    Hi Tania, I have read that since nearly 10.000 B.C. beer was made by Elamitas (Iran) Egipts and Sumeriios ( Old Mesopotania, Irak), despite
    it was made by other different methods, but in essence the idea is similar just to use some kind of grains or fruits and fermenting them
    There is a lot of text written about beer and the different types of it, also how beer is called all round the world.

    As Betty said above, textually:

    “One of the best things about this website is: we don’t just learn English, we learn about things in the whole world”.

    By all means I think that´s true.


  17. Betty says:

    Today is Sunday 6th March 2011, I have decided to do something unusual.

    Instead of cooking breakfast, I searched this website to find answers to some questions I have in my mind all the time.

    Well, the list of questions is so long, it is better I don’t attempt to display it here. I am very pleased, however, to have found two old podcasts which provided some answers to my questions. More importantly, I enjoyed listening to these two inspirational podcasts very much.

    I hope to share them with you. Since it is material within this website, I hope it is within this website’s rule to post some links here, save me spending a very long time explaining how to find the two podcasts. They are:

    ESLPodcast 100 – An Interview with Dr. Jeff McQuillan

    SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: New Podcast Learning Guides

    After listening to the special announcement on 13 May 2006, I think those who still do not want to spend the money to buy the Learning Guides but want to improve their English faster should try to type the Learning Guides themselves if they have the time.

    I did copy type some UK news from UK TV teletext myself about 15 years ago to try to improve my English, when internet was not so cheaply available to me at that time.

    Now I am a bit more careful about how to manage my money and time, I will use money to buy some valuable time. I subscribed to be a Premium Member which I think it better value than Basic Member.

    I hope you can listen to the 2 old podcasts above to appreciate Jeff and Lucy’s voices 5 years ago, you will be very happy with the discovery.

    Please let me ask one of the many questions I want to ask Jeff and Lucy:

    How do you – Jeff and Lucy, preserve your voices? How do you keep them unchanged? After using one’s voice box so much, the voice tends to go lower, but it did not seem to have happened to you both, amazing!

    Please also let me ask my friends here two questions:

    Do you think Lucy should interview Jeff again to see if Jeff’s answer to her questions will be different 5 years later?

    I remember listening to Jeff interviewed Lucy before in one of the special video podcasts, do you think Jeff should interview Lucy again as well?

  18. sara says:

    Dear Warren,thanks for sharing it with us.I learned a lot from it.

  19. Peter says:

    There is a brewhouse here in is called beer market which has three houses in three different levels. We call them brewhouse here.
    The second house is a bar that you can drink draft beers and jig:)
    They are craft men, for sure.
    They beer they brew is the best
    I personlay like guineas ; it has substance
    Here ,there are some candian beer companies that mass-produce beers.
    They are cheaper but less popular.
    Beers are mostly imported.

  20. Peter says:

    I have turned the tables like all of them and picked up the Language, but there is one table left adamantly still,doesn’t nudge even a bit.
    It is like it is bolted down
    The bolted down table Is accent
    Any advise Warren.
    I have some beautiful song for u

    You can spend your whole life buildin’
    Something from nothin’
    One storm can come and blow it all away
    Build it anyway

    You can chase a dream
    That seems so out of reach
    And you know it might not ever come your way
    Dream it anyway

    God is great
    But sometimes life ain’t good
    And when I pray
    It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
    But I do it anyway
    I do it anyway

    This world’s gone crazy
    It’s hard to believe
    That tomorrow will be better than today
    Believe it anyway

    You can love someone with all your heart
    For all the right reasons
    In a moment they can choose to walk away
    Love ’em anyway

    God is great
    But sometimes life ain’t good
    And when I pray
    It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
    But I do it anyway
    Yeah – I do it anyway

    You can pour your soul out singing
    A song you believe in
    That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
    Sing it anyway
    Yea, sing it anyway
    Yeah, yeah!

    I sing
    I dream
    I love

  21. Tania says:

    Hi! Very, very nice lyrics, Peter.

  22. Valeri says:

    Don’t drink a lot of alcohol, friends. And even better don’t drink alcohol at all, because there is nothing good about it, and it destroys the cells of your brain. And you will be more useful for society if you have the full set of your brain cells 🙂 Our world needs intelligent people, at least a few of them

  23. Rodders says:

    Ah, I miss the pub culture of the Czech Republic. I didn’t really go to many in the states so I can’t say much, but CZ is great, and England perhaps even better (but I can’t say because I was only there for a few days). Valerie, chill out. Our world needs drunks to make the intelligent people seem so clever.

  24. Tania says:

    Hi! You are right, Valeri. Health before anything.

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