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Beer critic William Brand explains why the hoppin' Bay Area beer scene commands international respect

Most of the Belgians that come over here are looking for something strong and hoppy. So I'd try and find them something like Old Yeltsin — brewed by HopTown Brewing Company in Pleasanton — or a barley wine. There's a bar and grill called Schooner's in Antioch that makes a barley wine. It's quite strong — around 10 or 11 percent — and they age it for a year or two or three, and it's astounding. So I'd go with our own styles. There are also some American breweries that are doing a Belgian style. In the Bay Area one place for that is Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa — they do stunning stuff.
SFBG So you might say that Europeans understand American beer.
BRAND There's a lot of respect in Europe for American beer makers today. And there's no animosity at all. The thing about beer is that people are never snobby. People only become beer snobs when they don't know what they're talking about — or when they're talking about crappy beer. SFBG
Want more brew-haha? Contact William Brand at
21st Amendment Brewery
Drake's Brewing
Marin Brewing Company
Magnolia Brewery
HopTown Brewing Company
Russian River Brewing Company