I haven’t written much recently, but one thing which came to mind from my trip to Canada is the relatively extensive differences in what craft beer is available.

It really is amazing the sort of cultural differences you do and do not notice when abroad in a place such as Canada, if for not for its occasional flags and British-Monarchist anthems. There are British influences in Vancouver which seem hard to place but clearly existent, and there are some more blatant britishisms in Victoria, but at the end of the day either place can be easily navigated by an American.

But a beer list in either place at an establishment with a reasonable taplist is indistinguishable.

In conversation with a man in his early thirties at a bar, it was quipped that no beer could exceed eight percent. Anyone familiar with many craft beer scenes (San Diego especially) will know that in the US this is simply not true. But across borders I was simply not familiar with the somewhat-british influence on beer. Perhaps there are rules I’m not aware of, but in most bars a series of relatively low ABV IPAs as well as northwest style IPAs were accompanied by a wide variety of ESBs, Browns, and irish-style stouts. Notably absent were barrel aged anything or double IPAs.

There are certainly cross border import-export difficulties which account for some of the lack of familiarity, but a good part of it seems cultural. I would never have thought of this had I not been. It really does go to show that no matter how much one claims to have the sympathies of some other part of the nation or world in mind, much is missed or not quite understood until you are there.

When googling this disparity a common topic discussed was Canadian beer being stronger (ie Molsons vs Budweiser) but my takeaway on the craft scene was opposite. Ultimately me being there gave me an interesting picture of the Canadian craft beer scene that before visiting, online, I might have thought to be either purely stereotypical, or had quite possibly straight out incorrect.

Assumptions like this can be difficult to verify even in a world of tremendous connectivity. Oftentimes it’s all too easy to presume that our intuitive understanding is correct or that things you might expect (more British style beer in a commonwealth country) are based purely on stereotype and have no grounding.