The British Beer Company, a chain with locations throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire, is founded on the idea of the homey British pub, right down to the Fuller’s on draft and the fish and chips on the menu.
The model has worked well, but recent changes in Britain’s beer scene have caused founder Harry Gnong and director of operations Shane Egan to reconsider their offerings.
“I was in Edinburgh two months ago and noticed that people weren’t just drinking Old Speckled Hen,” says Egan, who runs the British Beer Company’s beer program. “The beer on tap there was as good as anything I’ve ever had. And I found it hilarious they were serving a New England style IPA.”
The British Beer Company has always had a solid beer list, something Gnong made sure of when he founded the first location in Plymouth in 1997. But the landscape has changed. There are now more than 2,000 breweries in the UK, up 64 percent in the last five years. In order to capture some of that bustling UK beer scene, the BBC is launching the Fab Four program (a nod to the Beatles), dedicating four taps at each location to some of these newer British brews.
The beers include a double IPA from Manchester, England’s Cloudwater Brewing Co., named one of the top five breweries in the world last year by the website Rate Beer, and Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie, a soured hoppy pale from Buxton Brewery, located in an old Roman bath town. Magic Rock Shredder is a wheat beer flavored with Seville oranges, tangerine juice, and coriander seed, while Partizan Brewing’s Iced Tea Saison infuses lemon, lime, and green tea. BBC locations will rotate in dozens of unique brews to complement the Fuller’s ESB and Boddington’s Pub Ale already on tap.
“I think the Brits got sick of drinking the same old pint of ale they were drinking,” says Egan. “If we’re a traditional British pub, we need to have traditional British beer, which is now craft beer.”
In order to accommodate the new beers, some domestic brews will be cut, a problem Egan doesn’t really see as one considering locations like the Worcester BBC already have 13 domestic IPAs on tap.
“I think we’ll have the best British beer in the country,” says Egan.Gary Dzen can be reached at email@example.com.