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Indigenous American styles

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by jmw, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    Hmm, I guess those are in some sense original, but:
    -Chicha generally doesn't seem to use barley as a fermentable. Although it's called "corn beer" because the process of producing it is similar to beer, I don't think it really falls in the same family.
    -I really don't think "pumpkin beer" should be its own style. We don't refer to stouts with vanilla added as a style separate from stouts; rather, whatever adjunct is used is accidental to the essential style of "stout." There is always a base beer for pumpkin beers that usually falls neatly into a previously-existing (and non-American) style, like brown ale or stout.*

    *Of course there are "styles" like framboise that rely on specific adjuncts, but really these are sub-styles of established styles (like lambic in the case of framboise) - hence the point above. Anyway, my goal in saying all of this is not to establish some rigid definition of "style," but rather just to show that even the "styles" you pointed out are really just variations on non-American styles.
     
  2. “You also need to remember that lots of English pale ales (i.e. pale ales made in England) use American hops, and have been since the 1800s at least. For example, Fullers were making a strong IPA in the 1890s using hops from Oregon.” It is my understanding that American hops (specifically Cluster hops) were indeed exported to Britain in the 1800s. These Cluster hops were principally used for bittering. The Pale Ales used English hops (East Kent Goldings, Fuggels, etc.) for the flavor/aroma additions. Which type of hops you use for bittering a Pale Ale has very little influence on how the beer tastes.

    “I think we need to draw a line at how far we look back when talking of who invented what, because eventually you'll go back to the first fermented grain drink sometime roughly 6000 years ago.” I personally avoided the word “invented” and instead used the word “innovation” in my post. Your point is well taken that beer was “invented” by the Egyptians/Sumerians/etc. I still think it is fair to discuss innovation as regards various modern day countries with respect to beer. I am of the opinion that beers like American Pale Ale, American style IPA, etc. are indeed innovative and I think TongoRad discussed this topic well in his post.

    Cheers!
     
  3. Was just sayin' is all.
    That bit wasn't a reply to you.
     
  4. You can make stout sound pretty dumb this way too. "Pah, those Brits think they're so great, all they did is burn their barley a little."
     
  5. jmw

    jmw Savant (430) North Carolina Feb 4, 2009

    Ah. I misunderstood. Yes I too hate that bubba-esque terminology, as if it is the answer to any question of American superiority.
    And the unimaginative, grunting, caveman-like chants of "yoo-ess-ay, yoo-ess-ay" during US men's national team football matches--hate that too.
     
  6. sarcastro

    sarcastro Savant (415) Michigan Sep 20, 2006

    What do styles do people consider unique and original? There are so many styles from Belgium, England, and Germany that are only slightly different than others. There needs to be a base line for unique and original if you want to get an answer to the original question.
     
  7. Very true, and they are all still distinct and memorable. Perhaps if more U.S. "craft" brewers understood this, they wouldn't feel the need to dump shit-tons of hops or other weird crap into their beer -- and, in turn, we wouldn't need to ask questions like the OP's.
     
    jmw likes this.
  8. sarcastro

    sarcastro Savant (415) Michigan Sep 20, 2006

    The shit ton of hops beers sell, otherwise they wouldnt keep making them. I see a wide range of styles when I go to the store. Hoppy beers are just one of them.
     
  9. Please elaborate on the memorable distinctions between "Quad" and "Belgian Strong Dark Ale" or "Belgian Pale Ale" and "Belgian Strong Pale Ale."

    Weird crap, you mean like the fruit, wild bugs, and crystallized sugar the Belgians add to their beers?
     
  10. What major changes have European brewers contributed since America has been an established country? The Native Americans didn't have beer and this is a country of immigrants who brought beer and beer styles with them from their home countries. So, since George Washington was president which country has been the most innovative as far as brewing is concerned?
     
  11. jmw

    jmw Savant (430) North Carolina Feb 4, 2009

    I think it really depends on how you define "innovation". Which is what we've been discussing for a while now. Try to keep up.
     
  12. Iv'e been keeping up fine. Use whichever definition of innovation you see fit, just explain.
     
  13. You mean like the differences between Rochefort 10 and Chimay Blue or Orval and Duvel?

    I was thinking more like these two examples from this year's "cask" festival in Atlanta (but there are countless other examples):
    • Strong stout with coffee, cocoa nibs, maple syrup, vanilla, wildflower honey and Mexican peppers. Aged on tequila-soaked charred American oak.
    • Imperial stout fermented with cream-filled, chocolate cupcakes.
    Again, you can put whatever you like in your beer, but to call these things innovative in the way that, as Tongo outlined above (and I unequivocally agreed with), American-style DIPAs have developed and been cultivated, is naive at best and completely laughable at worst. Similarly, for a brewer to simply try and replicate the process that has led to the development of a distinct American DIPA style (and which comprises the use of copious amounts of hops) in any number of other "styles" and achieve the same success is similarly naive -- and hardly "innovative."
     
  14. Chichi is the drink of the Andes. Corn is chewed, and the saliva breaks down the starch to fermentable sugars. The masticated pulp is spit into a jar, where it ferments. It is a "beer" since it is made from grain.

    It has been some time since I was into all the American Southwest stuff, but there was a drink called tiswin that was made from corn. There was also a drink made from the Saguaro cactus blossoms, but that would a wine.
     
  15. jmw

    jmw Savant (430) North Carolina Feb 4, 2009

    George Washington became President in 1789, roughly 300 years after initial European colonization. But taking whichever of those time periods that you choose, I'm assuming that you mean that beer production in the States went from zero to "some". That would be a 100% increase in production. Are you insinuating that is the same as innovation?
     
    Hoppsbabo likes this.
  16. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (490) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    The stay-tab can opener is an American innovation.

    First used by Falls City Brewing, IIRC.
     

  17. I'd like to hear an argument then.
     
  18. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (490) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    Any change is innovation. Even if it was done before but you didnt know about it.
     
    Reneejane likes this.
  19. I sleep with a horse blanket.
     
  20. Unimaginative, perhaps, but a little better behavior than the citizens of many other countries, including those in oh-so-sophisticated Western Europe, who sometimes respond to losses with fights, riots, assassinations and, in one case in South America, a war between the winning and losing country.

    In comparison, who exactly are the cavemen?
     
  21. Soccer... soccer games. ;) Other teams may play football - but the USMNT plays soccer! (so I've heard... finding actual visual evidence can be difficult to do here.)
     
  22. cavedave

    cavedave Champion (940) New York Mar 12, 2009

    Okay, I will give you those points, if you agree that there should be no designation for vegetable beer at all (since in USA pumpkin beer is overwhelmingly the largest representative of this supposed style), and that beer not containing hops, or made with wine yeast, or by lactic ferment, should not be considered beer (because if beer not made with barley should not be called beer then so shouldn't beer made only using other non-classic-definition beer ingredients?).
     
    Etan likes this.
  23. cavedave

    cavedave Champion (940) New York Mar 12, 2009

    Watch it, buddy.
     
    Hoppsbabo and 5thOhio like this.
  24. I think a lot of people are getting feisty here because there is argument over word semantics and connotations between USA English speakers and UK English speakers, and that's something that can go on for a while.

    Innovation is a funny word methinks. If you want to define it as something that has absolutely never been done before, then it is very difficult to be innovative. Even new technology like our smart phones are simply finding new ways for us to do the same things we've always done (talk, send letters, buy things, listen to music, etc)(Also, that claim is probably a big reach).

    If you want to limit "innovation" to just new styles - then you've got to look at beers like the Steam Beer, the Kentucky Common, Cream Ale and Bourbon Barrel-Aged Beers as the only real unique styles. I might throw in whatever style Sam Adams' Infinium is as well (Although there are similar beers, no brewer has created a beer like that using the long mash process that BBC and Weihenstephan did) - but then again that was a collab effort with the oldest brewery in the world...soooooooo maybe USA doesn't get full credit for that one.

    I'm a little surprised nobody has linked to this article yet from Draft http://draftmag.com/features/native-ales-yeast/

    Also, I'm pretty sure Mangalista Pig Porter is uniquely American as well (I know, you weren't counting the crazy beers) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16503/72900

    Edit: The more I think about it, I think it's absolutely improper to have this discussion and not include the "crazy" beers. That's where the American nnovative spirit exists. No, Americans didn't invent the Russian Imperial Stout, but they threw that style into bourbon barrels, they aged it on vanilla beans and they even made it taste like Creme Brulee. No, Americans didn't invent the Double IPA (we should all admit by now that beers like that have been brewed for centuries - even if they weren't called IIPA or DIPA or whatever - same with Black IPAs), nor did Americans invent the "Belgian IPA" - but these are still examples of American creativity. Look at a beer like the Sam Adams Double Agent (an "India Pale Lager") that fuses German and English styles in a distinctly American way.

    In this sense, a lack of a rich brewing tradition in the U.S. (I use that term comparatively - because as rich as it may be dating back to c. 1600, that's nothing compared to Old World brewing) has been a major benefit to the U.S. because it hasn't been constrained by dogmatic traditions (I'm not saying all Old World brewers are dogmatic and rigid in their approach, just that US brewers often are not).
     
    sjverla likes this.
  25. I've got to disagree here. Pumpkin Ale isn't just a brown ale or a stout with pumpkins and spices added. The pumpkins and spices are *essential* to a Pumpkin Ale. In addition to adding fermentable material in the mash, the pumpkins and spice provide a defining flavor of the style - as opposed to vanilla (or chocolate) in a stout that will serve to complement the traditional flavors of the style.
     
  26. No, I mean that I think you agreed with Sarcastro when he didn't actually agree with you. Yes, Rochefort 10 and Chimay Blue are different, but hardly worlds apart in style, there are plenty of DIPAs that are very distinct from one another. I think lots of people in this thread have a double standard for what counts as innovative in Europe vs. what should count as innovative here.

    I'll agree that cupcakes are stupid, but coffee, chocolate, maple, vanilla, honey, and plenty of other ingredients are all great in my book. Did anyone make coffee beer before Americans? How is adding coffee less innovative than adding sugar (i.e. Tripel)? Again, I think there's a huge double standard at work here.
     
  27. emsjf

    emsjf Initiate (0) Virginia Jan 3, 2012

    I'll just say that the breadth of America's contribution to beer in the last 25 years is more than any other country over any time period can claim.

    Also, ...'murica.
     
  28. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    Fine, I'll compromise. We'll call chicha an original American beer style but kick pumpkin ale off the list :D
     
    cavedave likes this.
  29. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    Are you serious?
     
  30. I wasn't agreeing with him.

    No one I have ever talked to in those places counts such things as "innovative."

    Before the Reinheitsgebot in Germany people were putting all manner of things into their beer so it would taste better after the wild yeasts and other bugs got to it. But again, they weren't parading their concoctions as "innovations," which is what the OP was asking about.
     
  31. emsjf

    emsjf Initiate (0) Virginia Jan 3, 2012

    Absolutely. For better or worse, the US scene is all about experimentation. The beer scene abroad has been largely about tradition, which has driven some styles into near extinction. You disagree?
     
  32. djsmith1174

    djsmith1174 Savant (480) Minnesota Aug 21, 2005

    'Merica has been successful in convincing a good portion of the world that they like their beer devoid of any actual flavor. We've succeeded in lacking any style.
     
    jmw likes this.
  33. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    "Innovative" or not, just about all of American experimentation consists of variations on British or Belgian styles of beer. It's logically absurd to say that the American contribution is greater than either of these countries, when the American contribution consists of interpretations of styles that come from these countries.
     
  34. No, I said nothing about production. I asked; Which country has been the most innovative as far as brewing is concerned since that time period? Pretty straight forward question.

    In my opinion the introduction mechanical refrigeration, automatic bottling lines, canning, combined with tweaks to other styles that American brewers have contributed have been the biggest improvements.
     
  35. emsjf

    emsjf Initiate (0) Virginia Jan 3, 2012

    If you wanna break it down that way, there are only two types of beer... so i guess we should thank Germany and Mesopotamia! The US-style beers are pretty out there, I think you may be a little jaded from being surrounded by it - not trying to be mean btw. Just ask American-styled breweries in Europe.
     
  36. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    I'm not sure what you mean.
     
  37. Before the adoption of the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot by the rest of (then) Germany, the brewers there were putting all manner of "experimental" stuff in their beers (google Braunschweiger Mumme for just one of hundreds of examples).
     
  38. emsjf

    emsjf Initiate (0) Virginia Jan 3, 2012

    Eh, it doesn't matter. I see the differences in beers, you see the similarities.
     
  39. Reneejane

    Reneejane Savant (415) Illinois Jan 15, 2004

    bah, nobody invents anything these days, they just stand on the shoulders of the greats. nothing is innovation, nobody is being creative, just a bunch of gloating copy cats...

    Or... you all could accept that variation on a theme is innovation.
     
    rlcoffey likes this.
  40. jmw

    jmw Savant (430) North Carolina Feb 4, 2009

    You can get the beginnings of one from marquis' post above below yours, and then take a look at the particulars of the recipes that Kristen England was writing about. Imperial IPAs are not an American invention, just the name.
     

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