American beer is more than just mass produced lager. That was the message from the American Brewers Association, which held its first event in London last week as part of a move to develop UK export links.

Representatives from 11 American craft breweries attended, along with many in the industry who participated in beer and food matching exercises designed to encourage linking US beers with food occasions.

"Our Association works for US craft brewers who focus on creating beers with character," said vice president Bob Pease. "We want to dispel the myth that American beer is nothing but mass produced lager."

Some of the brewers, such as Rogue Ales, have already established distribution links within the UK, but Rogue hopes to extend its portfolio and listings in both off and on-trades.

Export manager Adam Lambert said that, while exports were currently only a small element of their sales, the UK was considered a key market for the future. "We have some beers listed in the UK off-trade but we want to expand the portfolio of our beers sold over here," he added.

The brewer displayed its medal winning 6.2% abv Rogue Smoke at the event, which was paired with a rack of Romney Marsh lamb and dauphinoise potatoes.

Eric Wallace, president of Left Hand Brewery in Colorado, said America's rising movement of craft brewing stemmed from the challenge of creating new flavours. He said they followed traditional styles from around the world, such as German Pilsner beers or Trappist ales, then added their own twist to the recipes.

Left Hand displayed its 9.5% abv Imperial stout at the event, which was paired with a chocolate and hazelnut tart. "The beer is modelled on the traditional Imperial Russian stouts and it is double mashed," said Wallace. "This gives it far more hop intensity."

Other beers on display included: the 8% abv Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre, Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale and the hefty 15.2% abv Sam Adams Triple Bock.