German craft beer

Discussion in 'Germany' started by einhorn, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    I know I'll be roasted for saying this, but freshness in beer is grossly overrated. I've had lots of wonderful German, Belgium and British bottled beers in the USA and they tasted identical to the counterparts in Germany. It seems that if they're imported via Reefer Containers, they hold their freshness quite well. I've never tasted a German beer I brought to the USA vs. one I bought in the USA, but I doubt I'd be able to taste much difference. 2nd, I just a year old bottle of my own homebrew and it tasted exactly the way it did when it was 6 weekds old. It was a 4.5% Porter, in my cellar and spent a warmish summer their too, unpasteurized, bottle conditioned, and no detriment to its flavor. So what's this BS about freshness? As long as it's not been heat or light flashed for extended periods of time, it's grossly overrated.

    Damn, who's got that much money or time off? I don't. I'm a free-lance teacher; if I don't work, I don't eat, so I can't fly off and can't afford to travel to the ends of Europe. Good for you, you had generous vaction time. Wish we are all so damn lucky. Still doesn't mean I wanna do non-stop traveling to simply buy a bottle of beer.

    I don't disagree at all that experiencing the beer in "the environs of pub/tavern/beergarden cultures that were developed, and carefully protected, over centuries" is crucial to understanding how/where these styles came from, but God I also hate tourist. In my local backyard of FFM, we got the Korean/Chinese/Japanese/American (it's funny but the Americans are now the best behaved of that bunch) tourist overrunning the Äppler (Apfelweinlokale) and it sucks. So there's good and bad to both sides.

    Let's give a concrete example... I went to Edinborough to drink some Scotch beers, and it was great. Lovely cask ale pubs serving a Wee Heavy or 80-/ was sublime. I enjoyed the locals I could observe and was able to talk with. Can I get any of those beers in Germany? Hell no. Can you get them in the USA? Hell yeah. Is anyone even trying to make a similar style in Germany. :mad: Hell no. In America... I think so. Is it as good? Maybe. Are some taking those styles and innovating off them? I bet someone is.

    I want great beer, I want variety, I want convenience of buying it, and, I want innovation instead of the same tired stuff at every place I visit. What place does that describe best?
     
  2. Scott,

    Just like drtth I live in the land of “milk and honey”: Pennsylvania (specifically Southeastern Pennsylvania – Philly area). By the way, did you like my reference to “honey”!?! Sidenote: I think a honey milk stout is a great idea!!

    I will freely admit that I am spoiled in the aspects of: lots of quality, fresh, diverse beers available to me both US craft brewed and imported. As you and I have discussed in the past, imported German beer styles (other than Doppelbocks) can be a ‘hit or miss’ experience based upon how those beers were treated in transport. For example, a fresh & not beat up Weihenstephan Hefeweizen is a beer of beauty! An old or beat up (in transport) Weihenstephan Hefeweizen is a major disappointment.

    While US craft brewed versions of beer styles such as : “Pils, Dunkel, Kellerbier, Weizen, Bock, Maerzen, Rauchbier, Schwarzbier, Koelsch, Alt, or Gose; Flemish Red, Wit, Gueuze, Quad/Tripel/Dubbel, or Belgian Strong Ale; Mild, session pale, or cask anything; Bohemian Pils, Czech black beer, or low alcohol European style lager” could be argued are not the number 1 beers (in a subjective beer evaluation) I am perfectly happy drinking a number 2 or number 3 beer.”

    Fully recognizing my ‘advantage’ of living in SEPA and my easy availability to quality craft breweries like Sly Fox, Stoudt’s, Troegs, Victory, etc. (plus a plethora of high quality brewpubs), I can easily obtain high quality versions of the beer styles you mention above with a choice of differing breweries/brewpubs version of a given style. For example, there is a number of high quality Munich Helles beers brewed within a 20 minute drive for me. If I have a hankering for a quality Munich Helles I have a choice of where to go (or what to buy at the beer store).

    For those Americans who don’t live in SEPA, there are widely (some nationally) distributed US craft brewed versions of the beer styles you mention which are good to very good. Some of my opinions:

    · Pils: I have a strong preference for the SEPA German style Pilsners but I enjoy drinking Sam Adams Noble Pils (I had one this week), Sierra Nevada Summerfest, etc.
    · Kellerbier: Southampton Keller Pils which is widely distributed on the East Coast (plus Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas)
    · Czech Black Beer: Shiner Bohemian Black Lager which won a gold medal for the Bohemian Style Schwartzbier at the recent European Star beer contest)
    · Belgian Style beers: Ommegang, Allagash, Unibroue make very good beers. Ommegang won numerous medals at the recent European Star contest (4 medals in total; I think).
    · Weizen: Sierra Nevada Kellerweis is very good and available nationally. There are a lot of quality Hefeweizen beers in SEPA: Sly Fox Royal Weiss, Stoudt’s Heifer-in-Wheat, Victory Sunrise Wheat, Troegs DreamWeaver Wheat, etc.
    · Wit: Allagash Wit. Full Pint won a gold medal at the latest GABF but that is a PA beer.
    · Maerzen: There are lots of good quality US craft brewed Maerzens available. My favorite is Sly Fox but Shiner made a very good Oktoberfest beer this year (they won gold at the GABF).
    · Etc.

    I have not been to every part of the US but more and more there are quality US craft brewed beers of numerous beer styles. None of these beers may represent the epitome of a given beer style but they are high quality beers nonetheless.

    Prost!

    Jack
     
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  3. steveh

    steveh Champion (765) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    A shining example of the ignorance I expose:
    http://beeradvocate.com/community/t...people-think-of-them.57456/page-2#post-765591

    Edit: I shouldn't be using this member as an example of the type of beer drinker who believes German beer is not worthy of high status, he seems to enjoy a well-crafted brew and is just pointing out a similar impression as I was. But yes, that impression is out there.
     
  4. I have to ask, when was the last time you were here? You see, I, too, heard all the talk (much of it here on BA) about U.S. brewers making and serving "cask" ale and authentic German lagers. So I spent considerable time and money seeking these things out. When I found them, there was one problem: they are not authentic cask ales/German lagers. Perhaps you're like Jack -- and apparently 1000s of other BAs -- and are satisfied with what you receive when you're expecting a nice pint of cask ale/German pils and what you get is an overhopped, unfiltered interpretation/imitation usually made with (in part at least) inferior American 2-row malt (this applies to both the cask ale and the German pils, BTW). I'm not, nor will I ever pretend to be.
     
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  5. Oh yea, and if you do manage to find a decent example of, say, a Franconian Kellerbier such as Brooklyn's Gold Standard, enjoy paying $19.95 for a 64 oz growler of the stuff. Hell, at least the unfiltered aspect is authentic... ;)
     
  6. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    If price is a problem, then don't live in Germany and not live in a tiny town in Franken; otherwise, like me, you arder online, and then please don't order ANYTHING on Biershop Bayern. Check out those prices, and those don't count shipping. Makes your growler sound like a cheap deal.

    Another thing about price, did you factor the costs for each of your trips you took when you lived/worked in Germany as part of the per bottle cost? It's why I homebrew and rarely drink German beers. Either they suck (Fernsehbiere) or are expensive via internet. My last order to Biershop Bayern was out of desperation brought about losing 2 beers due to infection and having drunk all my own.
     
  7. Scott, I have said it before and I will say it again: you do indeed have exceptional tastes!

    So, I am ‘lucky’ in that given my location I can obtain genuine English cask ale. My favorite is Yards ESA on cask. This beer is made with Thomas Fawcett Pale Malt and English Hops. Sly Fox also makes a nice English Bitter Ale:

    “Chester County Bitter
    A cask only beer brewed to be poured exclusively from firkins, either via gravity from the bar top or through a beer engine. This traditional British ale is authentic cask conditioned beer with a smooth malt profile balanced by a subtle hop presence. Dry -hopping in the cask produces an enticing hop aroma in this quaffable session ale.”

    As we have corresponded before I have a choice of German style Pilsners that are brewed exclusively with imported Pilsner malt. I cannot provide the specific information on the maltster (I would guess Weyermann) but it is 100% German Pilsner malt:

    “Sly Fox Pikeland Pils
    Gold Medal GABF 2007, 2000 | Bronze Medal, GABF 2003
    A Northern German style Pilsner brewed with imported German Pils malt and hopped with German and Czech hops. Light in body, light straw in color and dry.”

    “Victory Prima Pils
    COMPOSITION
    Malts: 2 row German pilsner malt
    Hops: German and Czech whole flowers”

    Etc.


    Cheers!
     
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  8. mjtierney2

    mjtierney2 Savant (465) Germany Jul 31, 2011

    I have agreed with much of what you said to this point, but I have to take exception here. If you live near FFM, you are about 1 hour (-ish) from me. Here in Heidelberg, Weihenstephaner's Hefeweizen, Schneider's Tap 7 (and sometimes Tap 1), many Andechs varieties, Rothaus, Alpirsbacher and others (Distelhäuser?) are readily available. I just picked up a 20er of Hofbräu Original (sorry Stahlsturm) for €13,99. Besides, a trip to Maruhn's for you is not too far away. An €8,00 train ticket has to be cheaper than the internet pricing.

    That said, I do sometimes hate going to my local bottle shop, which essentially consists of a Wheat Beer aisle and a Light Lager aisle (Pils/Helles/Export), with only a Kellerbier or Dunkel or Czech Pils here and there to round things out. I hate that the only Alt I get is Diebels. I hate that the Belgian aisle is in Belgium. There's no question that in terms of variety offered at any random local beer store, the US is far and away better than Germany, but you can find good beer cheap without working too hard.
     
  9. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    To herrburgess:
    I wanted to mention something you didn't quite touch on. YOU do have a point about going to the original place to experience a native food/drink is a must, but it's as much an experience external to the actual product as it to the product itself.Take a French cheese as an example. Sampling it in a small town in its origin in a small bistro is far different from sampling same cheese bought in Whole Foods. Even if they taste identical, all the atmospherics, the surrounding people and what you eat/drink with affect the taste.

    Even my same homebrew tastes different on separate days, depending on what I ate before, the time of day, or who knows what, and it was never shipped across continents.

    Anyway, I agree with you that one should experience products in their natural habitat, but that's a treat, an unusual occurrence, a lucky thing. I wish more people would come to Germany to try the beers form tiny, family owned brewers, but it ain't gonna happen for most. It still doesn't de-value the great strides made by the craft beer industry in America. Yes, there's terrible hype momentarily about some craft beers and they're overpriced. Nonetheless, it doesn't invalidate the good examples being brewed in America.
    Cheers Herrburgess
     
  10. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    I agree with all you say, except that to get the beers herrburgess was talking about, the best Märzens, Kellerbier, etc., you pretty much have to dive into Franken or other parts of Bayern.

    I love Mahruns too, but it gets real expensive when I drop 150 Euro every other month on beer, plus I gotta drive 45 mins to get there. Gas is 2x as expensive here as in the USA (that's for non-EU readers). I'm not taking the train and schlepping 4 cases of beer on the S-bahn, U-bahn and... gotta drive.
     
  11. The RHG today is the German Beer Tax Law (Deutschen Biersteuergesetz), which has rules for top fermented, specials, and the bottom fermented beers. Adjuncts are allowed for beers to be exported. This law is for beers brewed in Germany for sale in Germany, as I understand it. Other beers can be imported that do no follow these rules. I have had Belgian beer at a beer fest in Mainz, but that was a rare thing.

    Gose is an exception, see number 7.

    Scroll down to the RHG Today section. From Ron Pattinson
    http://www.europeanbeerguide.net/reinheit.htm
     
  12. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    That's exactly right. Nobody is bound by the RHG anymore unless they claim so on their product. Of course, the mere rumour that a brewery is NOT adhering to it means immediate commercial suicide in Germany. For good or ill, it's so ingrained in German minds that it'll take many more generations to ween us off that.

    Personally, I think the RHG is part of the Bavarian tradition and Bavarian breweries should obey it for that reason. The rest of Germany was only subjected to it after a rather shady deal between the crowns of Bavaria and Prussia in those murky days following a massive ass kicking of the French Empire that ultimately lead to the German Empire. In hindsight one has to wonder how things had turned out if the French had better officers but that's another story... Anyways, the RHG has no place in the rest of Germany and I don't see why a brewery in Leipzig or Dortmund should feel bound by it.
     
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  13. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    So you admit that German brewers are outstanding even within what you perceive limitations and your only complaint is that you can't get any of it conveniently in Frankfurt ? Maybe you need to get out of your big city more often :)
     
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  14. einhorn

    einhorn Savant (405) California Nov 3, 2005

    While in full agreement with your comments Stahl, it still boggles my mind why everyone is OK with creating various Frankenstein-radlers with a clean conscience and nobody bats an eye at dragonfruit & pils or cola & hefeweizen.
     
  15. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    Us Bavarians have to drive as well when we want to get the good stuff. Well, unless I want Plank which is in convenient walking distance :D And our gas is more like 3 times the US price. Of course, our cars are a LOT more fuel effective as well so that makes good of some of it again.
     
  16. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    I consider them gateways drugs I guess. Radlers have been around since time immemorial, serving mostly as girl and kid drinks before they advanced to actual real beer. Hell, my own wife didn't drink any beer when she came to Bavaria, she started on Radler and eventually moved up.
     
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  17. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    Did I ever say some German brewers weren't outstanding? My point has always been variety is the spice of life, and drinking the same ol' - same ol' gets downright boring, especially once you've seen the world outside one's little Kaff. No matter how good the local swill is, it's boring to drink it year in and year out without possibilities for something else. Isn't that why the folks of the DDR ran over the border to go shopping the first chance they got in 1989? Seeing Germans in a USA bottle shop or in a pub with a selection of 300 beers is kinda like how the communist-country consumers first looked when they saw the choices in a western supermarket/department store. Isn't that why the Trabi failed once more choice was offered? The good quality stuff will stand the test of competition, which is why Germans still have their own beer to be proud of. That's also the reason for the Brauereiausterben, for younger folks who are now offered choices in the drink selection (beer, vs. mixed drinks/cocktails) are shunning beer. Why? The quality of what's offered from Fernsehbiere is piss-poor, making alternatives quite attractive.

    Choice and variety is always good, which is again why the USA is as close to beer Nirvana as we may ever get. The HYPE of the craft beer craze will fade and normality will eventually set it to a slower, steadier growth. Right now, the fevered prices and demands are long-term unsustainable and will go back to the mean prices, but that's just part of any boom. Things go crazy first and then settle into a new normal. Everyone chill and have a homebrew.

    Also, why aren't the best German beers available in Getränkemarkts? Why MUST I leave the city to get a decent German beer? Or why aren't they available in REWE? I think it's due to A) ignorance of the consumer B) the ineptness of marketing their beers to a base wider than their Kaff, and C) Conglomerates won't allow the little guys shelf space.
     
  18. Diesels yes, gasoline not so much, when you compare models in the same size/segment. You need to remember that the Germans and Japanese sell here also. Even the US companies have had to increase the fuel economy of the cars and trucks.

    The fleet in Germany is smaller in the size of the car, but I am always amazed at the increased amount of SUVs and luxury cars I see each time I go back. One must really want to make a statement to drive on of those there.
     
  19. Boddhitree: Here is the answer to all die Leiden des jungen Lehrers. Move to southeast PA. ;) Cheers!
     
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  20. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    Nope :p

    The folks of the DDR had 1 brewery making 2 kinds of beer, both Lagers for 16 million people. Comparing that with the situation in the West is quite the stretch, innit ? :) Seeing Germans in a US bottle shop... Well, most Germans wouldn't even set fot in a US bottle shop because they still think that all US beer is nigh undrinkable, right ? :D

    The reasons for the "Brauereisterben" are (in that order):
    1.) Young people being to lazy to pick up a craft and rather work 8 to 4 and then punch out and go home.
    2.) The EU, regulating small business to death
    Young folks have ALWAYS had mixed drinks first. It has ever been the ambition of youth to distance themselves from the ways of their elders. Eventally they'll find back to the good stuff, just like I did.

    Now you're getting downright absurd :) While I have had too many good US beers to fall into the trap of my fellow country men, a lot of the stuff I've had was rather limpwristed impersonations of the real thing. Again, there are exceptions but to call the situation a Nirvana o_O

    Because the good stuff is brewed in smaller batches and they can sell what they make in their Kaff. They have no need to search for you as their customer, they are just fine. So get off your high horse of entitlement. The consumer is only king until there are more consumers than there's beer :p
     
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  21. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    All he needs to do is move 100 miles east and he'll be almost in Bamberg... :D
     
  22. I gave up on that mission a few threads ago ;)
     
  23. Scott, I have two words for you: Merry Christmas!

    I hope that you find three BIG bottles of Schlenkerla Marzen under your tree tomorrow.

    Prost!

    Jack
     
  24. Thanks, Jack. Merry Christmas to you and yours...from the land of malt and hops to the land of milk and honey ;). Prost! Scott
     
  25. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    It's called SCOTCH beer for a reason. Because it's scottish. You cannot recreate something scottish outside Scotland nor can you recreate something indiginously Czech outside Czechia. Or any other indiginous place for that matter. You will always end up with a weak, second hand impersonation that will leave you craving the real thing that much more. I would hope that eventually people would understand that and stop trying to imitate what they can never properly achieve anyways and start coming up with ideas on their own. Develop an identity dammit. :)
     
  26. steveh

    steveh Champion (765) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Unfortunately, that identity was mostly swill for so very long. I'm happy that U.S. micros have taken on their own challenges to recreate (in more than one definition) the classic styles from around the globe -- some I appreciate, others I don't, but I'm still happy for their availability.

    I'm also lucky enough to have a few breweries close by that can recreate reasonable facsimiles of German-style beers and I am quick to recognize them over the ones that can't!
     
  27. einhorn

    einhorn Savant (405) California Nov 3, 2005

    Interesting comment - and possibly the crux of the (perceived) problem. Americans have no defined beer culture of certain styles except the pale adjunct lager, so they are forced to look elsewhere for beer styles (I always found it unusual that guys were homebrewing Mexican style lagers and including corn in the recipe). The upside of the equation (and maybe where the true difference can be found) is that the American CONSUMER accepts this fact, and is OK with US brewers re-creating foreign styles, at least for the most part. Hard to say that about the German beer drinker, for sure.
     
  28. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    I'm trying to challenge a change here. Quit brewing beer like the Japanese build cars. Research your history and your many possibilities and come up with something that is American :)
     
  29. einhorn

    einhorn Savant (405) California Nov 3, 2005

    I wish there were more possibilities to expand on "old" American brewing styles, I just do not believe there are many to be had. Probably the reason why the American brewing scene leans so heavy on the British and German styles.

    I turn the sword around and say that I wish the Germans would lean more on their (long and rich) history and quit relying on their own Japanese car/non-German/Czech style that dominates the market.
     
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  30. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    You think all the bases have already been covered ? Then I guess the future is mix drinks...

    Unfortunately home car building is infinitely more complex than home brewing so I'm afraid there's not much hope there. I'm the wrong person for that anyways, I drive an Italian car (Alfa Romeo 156) :D
     
  31. einhorn

    einhorn Savant (405) California Nov 3, 2005

    Once again, Google is your friend.

    Maybe I am wrong - found this article online. Judging by the beers on the shelves of our local stores, I guess we are brewing and drinking A LOT of truly American styles.

    Now if the Germans can just get past that Pilsner thing...:D
     
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  32. grantcty

    grantcty Aficionado (235) Minnesota Feb 17, 2008

    So adding more hops to a beer makes it a "new" or "American" style? Hopped up pale ales, brown ales, amber ale (I don't really see how this is even a "style" given all the variations that you find) and barleywines are nothing new and many of these beers were brewed in England long ago. I guess maybe the only 'style' I can see is the extreme ale, whatever the hell that is since Americans love the extreme.

    Regardless of whether the beers listed in the link are American styles or not, I couldn't disagree more with Stahlsturm's point about developing our "own" styles and not trying to brew styles from other countries. The United States is a nation of immigrants who brought brewing traditions from their home country to their new home. It makes sense that the German immigrants continued to brew the styles they were accustomed to brewing back home and the local community had a taste for. The same goes for immigrant brewers from the British Isles. What would cause them to change and why should brewers in the US not brew those styles?

    I don't know what new styles or beers we're supposed have developed. I'm happy I have access to beers from brewers who do a pretty damn good job with lagers (New Glarus and August Schell). Maybe they're not up to the same quality as what Stahlsturm has access to in Germany, but I enjoy drinking them, even if they're not 'American' styles.

    Sorry for the rant. I mostly lurk in the German forums, but found Stahlsturm's assertion a bit much.
     
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  33. “So adding more hops to a beer makes it a "new" or "American" style?” I would argue that it isn’t so much the “more” part as much as the American hops part (but “more” is used as well). Let’s consider Pale Ales as an example. A typical English style Pale Ale will be hoped with British hops for late hoping (e.g., East Kent Goldings, Fuggles). An American style Pale Ale will typically be generously late hopped with American aroma hops (e.g., Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe, etc.). The American aroma hops provide a drastically different flavor to the beers.

    An American beer style not mentioned is California Common (e.g., Anchor Steam Beer). This beer is a hybrid: a beer brewed with a lager yeast at ale type fermentation temperatures.

    There are other beer styles somewhat unique to America; for example Cream Ale. The Cream Ale style was something that the Ale breweries in the US ‘invented’ to compete with the ‘new fangled’ lager beers being brewed in America in the late 1800’s.

    Cheers!
     
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  34. LBerges

    LBerges Aficionado (160) Germany Feb 14, 2010

    The owner of Radeberger is the Oetker family, the Schörghuber family holds the majority at Paulaner and Schneider is ,well, the Schneider family.
    Now - Why ist Radeberger not independant?
     
  35. LBerges

    LBerges Aficionado (160) Germany Feb 14, 2010

    Agreed (2), but the big brewers have a problem. Most of them have a "competence" in just one style (Pils, Weizen), and if they try a new style criticism is often scorching. There is room for a new style in Germany (like IPA). If IPA will be a success, its a chance for smaller breweries.
     
  36. LBerges

    LBerges Aficionado (160) Germany Feb 14, 2010

    What is the difference between an American Craft brewery and a Bavarian/Franconian craft brewery?

    The American brewery started 10 years ago and has made 25 or more styles since then.The name of the company is familiar now to all beer enthusiasts in U.S. Their beers have funny names and colourfuls labels.

    A craft brewery in Bavaria is 200 or even 500 years old and brewed just one style all the time (maybe a Festbier for the parish fair). The beer is available in the village and two pubs nearby.The name of the village is Stublang, Wattendorf, Geisfeld, Wiesen or Uehlfeld. The brewer has never heard the term "craft beer" and he does not care.
     
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  37. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

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  38. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    Slapping "American" in front of any given style does not constitute the creation of a new style.
     
  39. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

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