The term 'craft beer' was actually born in England, but the craft beer movement seems fairly American. After all, the movement was about splitting from old ways and rebellion is a fairly American activity. Andre Agassi, 1776 and ripped jeans, right.
And, given our data set, we're going to mostly find that data about America. Then again, there are smartphone users in all parts of the English-speaking world. And so you can actually find something out about the spread of craft beer from looking at check-ins around the world.
Like check out the Northern Hemisphere. These are areas with more than 50+ check-ins for any type of Imperial or Double Imperial Pale Ale. The craft movement is not necessarily about IPAs alone, but the beer does serve as a decent demarcation point between older styles and bigger companies.
I find the lack of check-ins in southeastern Europe a little surprising, but it's not an area that's flush with cash. Check the prices at your local package store -- in Hungary, you can get a half-liter of domestic beer for the equivalent of a $1.50 in America. Imports are only thirty cents more. Put a bomber of Black Butte XXV from Deschutes for $16.99 on the shelf and see how many people pony up. Otherwise, you've got your Americas, your Englands, Germanies and Frances.
Out east you have some surprises, perhaps. Japan has a burgeoning craft scene, just take a look at Baird and Tammamura atop the country's leaderboard. Hong Kong probably gets some imports from England and Japan, and some business travelers with smart phones en route to and from the Northwestern hemisphere.
Let's go south.
Australia is no surprise. Like Hong Kong, there's a strong connection with England, and beer has a long history in that country. Looks like craft beer is following suit. (Get me a Millennium Falcon IPA, if just for the bottle.)
Going into this, I admit I was prepared to anoint New Zealand the surprise of the southern hemisphere, but that's not fair. There's a similar connection to England, and there are actually a good amount of craft brewers that get distro into America. I've thoroughly enjoyed Epic, Yeastie Boys and 8 Wired in Hawaii and California, and Epic's best (Hop Zombie) has the name and the eight-win score of a California IPA.
Look at the leaderboard, though, and you get a sense of a robust craft scene. Add on top of this the fact that New Zealand is a hops clearing house for off-season beers in the northern hemisphere, and it's no surprise that New Zealand's red on this map. Here's a great paragraph from that piece, pointing out why the Kiwis are so great at hops-growing:
New Zealand’s particular advantage is its continued development of unique varieties in a hop-disease-free environment. This also enables the production of organic hops, with the world’s largest organic hop garden being located at Tapawera. Research is also being carried out into the health benefits of hops. Nelson’s southern hemisphere position means the industry can supply the northern hemisphere in its off-season, with eighty percent of New Zealand’s hops being exported.9
So yeah, no surprise there. Big fan of Nelson hops.
So how about Brazil?
They're succeeding despite expensive hops. It turns out there was an extensive German migration to the country -- centered around a city called Blumenau -- and that set the underpinnings for the current craft explosion. With their unique take on beers, Brazil is attracting attention from the northern hemisphere. It may not be *because* their hops is expensive that the scene is taking off, but certainly that has led the local craft breweries to look at unique local fruit, wood, and nuts to flavor their beers. Check one of the better local stores' online presence for a sense of what you can find, or our Brazilian leaderboards for a sense of the best of Brazil.
But, really, check out Brazil.
Thanks to *Brazilian* wiki commons user Missionary for the header image.