A question for users from other countries: Are you surprised at the US's beer culture?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by cmiller4642, May 10, 2018.

  1. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    And don’t forget the Egyptians!

    A little closer to modernity, don’t forget all of the homebrewers of Colonial America. There were thousands upon thousands of those brewers.

    Cheers!
     
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  2. kinopio

    kinopio Aspirant (256) Apr 30, 2009 Massachusetts

    When I travel outside of the US I sometimes wish people were less aware of American craft beer. For instance, when I am at a bar in Tokyo I don't want to drink US beer even if it is from a brewery I can't get in Boston. In Japan I want to drink Japanese beer(or sake, whiskey etc).

    I was at a fairly small craft beer fest in Oslo last year. Almost every brewery had a New England IPA. On average they weren't very good. Even if they had been good I work down the street from Trillium so I can drink world class NE IPA all the time. I wanted beer that was unique to the country I was in.
     
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  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Walt Disney was right: "It's a small world after all!"

    Cheers to Walt!!
     
  4. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,075) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    Maybe Disney can open a chain of Craft Epcot Cafes so you can drink your way through the world's IPAs (and eat each country's pulled pork slider and/or burger) without ever having to leave your hometown!
     
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  5. Lahey

    Lahey Disciple (358) Nov 12, 2016 Michigan

    Imagine the size of the lap belts on that ride...
     
  6. zid

    zid Champion (899) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    I heard @jesskidden did...
    but he'll probably correct me with some documentation proving that it wasn't actually Zeus.
     
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  7. zid

    zid Champion (899) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    When I took a tour of Anchor, and the tour-guide told the story of the brewery, he stated that Anchor brewed the first craft beer - their porter. At first, I was surprised/confused by that statement (do they not consider Anchor Steam a "craft beer"), but once it sunk in, I realized what they were getting at.
     
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  8. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,634) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    The term craft, which is Germanic in origin, gains meaning or new meaning and/or importance in the Industrial Age created by the British industrial revolution, when mechanization began to replace hand made. It was also the widespread adoption of the IR which indirectly eventually spawned in Britain the otherwise meaningless term “real ale.” All beer, including what is now called “real ale” is real.

    Yes, some folks visited the U.K. and learned what flavorful beer can be and wanted to recreate that. Also, some visited Germany and Austria, some visited Belgium, etc and wanted to recreate what they found/drank there. So there is not a single ethnocentric source for the influences that triggered things in the US.

    Those “re-creators” in the US were in a context created by the Industrial Revolution as it worked it’s way out in the United States. Just as “real ale” is a unique expression of a reaction against industrialization, so too “craft beer” is a unique expression of a reaction to industrialization. In addition, those “re-creators” in the US have moved beyond simply doing and/or improving their re-creations to trying to extend or to create, successfully or unsuccessfully, something new and/or different from the original.

    What we are seeing internationally is, rightly or wrongly, a broadening of the term “craft” to mean “flavorful beer that is not produced on an industrial scale, in a factory or by a large, international company.” (Much as “real ale” has been extended to mean brewed, packaged, cared for, and dispensed in a particular way.)

    To say that only British beers and brewing led to what has happened in the US is not only incomplete, it is, knowingly or unknowingly, disrespectful of the brewing traditions of other nations (e.g. Germany). To say that “craft” or “real” in the context of beer and brewing are meaningless terms is to ignore some or much of what has happened.
     
    #168 drtth, May 17, 2018
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
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  9. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,011) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    Those are some well crafted thoughts. At first I was resistant to the term "craft beer" but now I've come to accept is as simply describing what is in a way that's generally understood.
     
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  10. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,478) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    I'm going the opposite way, myself. At this point it seems pretty clear that it has ushered in the same sort of parochialism that we bemoaned about concerning the European beer cultures during the 80s and 90s.
     
  11. marquis

    marquis Crusader (759) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    But things made on an industrial scale are at least as good as hand made. They just lack individuality. I have some lovely wineglasses which cost me an arm and a leg but are they better made than those from a supermarket ?
    I visit breweries from time to time. Even the 10 barrel plants are fully automated, the only "hands on " part of brewing seems to be removing the spent grain and cleaning. :slight_smile:
     
  12. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,011) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    I'm in too good a mood this morning to bemoan anything.
     
  13. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,634) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    What distinguishes different Dark Milds on cask from each other is their individuality, both different brands and even over different days of the life of the same cask. Are they better made than Stella or Budweiser? You have claimed many times that they are.
     
    #173 drtth, May 17, 2018
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  14. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,011) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    I'm not talking about how it's made, rather how it's described. Language is a living thing and words evolve into contemporary descriptors that may in fact be different from the original dictionary definition. I have beer drinking friends that do not know (or care) what the difference is between a Kolsch and a Pilsner but when you say craft beer they have an understanding of your meaning.
     
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  15. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,634) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I'd suggest that the word can indeed signal the parochialism but that if any different word had been chosen the parochialism would still be there just under a different flag.
     
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  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Tom, permit to say that there were also influences from American ‘craft’ beers as well. One example is Ballantine IPA which was brewed until it was discontinued in 1996.

    “It’s weird how completely Ballantine has vanished from the public record. As recently as the mid-1960s, it was one of the largest breweries in the country, and its IPA had been around for decades. There’s no doubt it influenced early craft brewers—indeed, Sierra Nevada’s super-popular “Chico” strain of yeast, used by tons of ale breweries now—is widely believed to be Ballantine’s. Although early craft breweries didn’t make IPAs like Newark’s finest, the similarity to beers like Anchor Foghorn and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot is surely not casual. If craft brewing had come along just a little sooner, Ballantine might well now be considered as the grandfather of craft brewing.”

    http://allaboutbeer.com/ballantine-ipa/

    Other examples would be the American Porters that were detailed in post #140.

    Cheers!
     
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  17. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,634) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Indeed, and both your observations reinforce my point that it didn’t all start just because a few Americans visited Breweries in the U.K. and both liked and copied what they saw there.
     
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  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    I suspect that everybody realizes that except for one particular BA.

    Cheers!
     
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  19. marquis

    marquis Crusader (759) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Yes, different brands are made differently so the products have individual characters.
    I have not claimed that they are better made than Budweiser (which has brewing skills second to none) but that they suit my palate infinitely better.
    Cask ale dispense allows beer to develop and reach its peak it dramatically improves it but cannot make a silk purse out of a pig's ear.
    But once a brewery reaches a certain size it is automated. And that size is very small.
     
  20. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,634) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I beg to differ. One of the first times you lectured/scolded me on this site was when I made a post on here saying that Budweiser was a high quality beer and you claimed it was not and took great pains to explain to me what quality really was, with the focus being on cask beers.
     
    #180 drtth, May 17, 2018
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
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  21. marquis

    marquis Crusader (759) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    I shall take your word for it although of course cask is not a sort of beer but a way of improving and serving it.
     
  22. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (713) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    @drtth @marquis

    Weighing in a bit late to the game. And just to clarify - this is just my observation. I'm not a beer / craft beer history expert by any means. And a) definitely all countries' beer scenes / beer cultures should be respected - I can't stand the "XYZ Country (usually USA on here) makes the best beer" comments. And b) no doubt the influences on the American craft pioneers are multi-layered and multi-faceted, and involve many sources of inspiration from multiple cultures.

    That all said - I think the one thing that's struck me in the 10 years I've lived in the USA, and the seven years on this site, is the extent to which UK styles (above all other countries') have been appropriated by the US scene. UK styles still make up the backbone of a lot of breweries' portfolios, even though most Americans wouldn't even think of them as British. And I'm generalizing here - of course there are certain breweries and styles that buck this trend - but for the most part Belgian/German styles remain (or at least are more likely to be) sacrosanct.

    If a US brewery makes a Kellerbier or a Helles, I'd say people would view that as a US brewery attempting a German style, and more often than not the brewery will look to make something that approximates how the beer would be made in Germany.

    Pale ales, stouts, porters, IPAs, brown ales, barleywines etc - people don't even think of them as British anymore (unless the brewery stipulates them as being an "English" variant), and US breweries have ran with those styles and altered them to the point that they would be unrecognisable to Brits from ~30-40 years ago. Just look at the American styles listed on BA - the majority have UK roots.

    Given that the craft scene originated as a reaction against mass produced crap light lager (German) - it's unsurprising that German styles weren't initially as popular. And the result has been that they (along with Belgian styles) are now regarded with more reverence on here, as for the most part they remain separate and distinct from Anglo-American styles

    As a Brit it's a bit frustrating. Someone starts a "Best Country For Beer (Except 'Murica Of Course)" thread, Germany and Belgium get way more love than the UK - purely because British styles are not considered British anymore.

    So in short I agree @drtth that it's short sighted for @marquis , sitting there in his thatched cottage, spaniels sitting by his union jack slipper-clad feet, while Land of Hope and Glory plays in the background, to say that the US craft scene is purely based on UK influence. But I do think that UK styles have had the biggest influence on styles that are now considered "American."
     
  23. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,634) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    The only FYI I'd add to your observations is that there do seem to be some regional differences in the strength of various influences in the US.

    For example, PA and in particular SE PA have a strong German brewing heritage, possibly stronger than most other regions of the US. The first lager beer brewed in the US was brewed In Philly. Two of the oldest breweries in the US (Yuengling and Straubs) that are still owned by members of the original German founding family do and have done lagers for years and years. There has long been a receptive market for lager beers here in PA.

    So, not surprisngly several of the PA "craft" beweries produce respectable, if not world class, lagers. (E.g., In my regular rotation of beers I have no fewer than 5 different high quality Pils beers that are brewed no more than 60 miles, if that far, from where I sit. They each scratch a slightly different itch for me but all are well made.)

    Edit: While my earlier comments may not reflect this sentiment, I personaly am willing to cut @marquis a bit of slack on this stuff. I suspect from some of his comments over the years, that I've spent more time in and around Nottingham and the UK than he has spent in and around Philadelphia and the US.
     
    #183 drtth, May 18, 2018
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    You do realize that American brewers have been making those sorts of beers for hundreds of years, right?

    For example one of George Washington’s favorite beers to drink while visiting Philadelphia (and even when home in Mt. Vernon) was a Porter brewed by Robert Hare in Philadelphia (founded in 1775 as the Robert Hare & J. Warren Peter Brewery).

    There were a number of American breweries that were producing IPAs in the 1800’s:

    · C.H. Evans Brewery (New York)

    · Frank Jones Brewery (New Hampshire)

    · Christian Feigenspan (New Jersey)

    · Ballantine (New Jersey)

    · Mathew Vassar (New York)

    · Etc.

    I previously posted about Ballantine IPA. This beer was first brewed 1878 and this beer brand was available until it was discontinued in 1996.

    This is not a 30-40 year timeline, it is a 200+ year timeline.

    Cheers!
     
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  25. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (713) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    Don't think I made a statement beyond saying the styles (today) wouldn't be recognisable to Brits from 30-40 years ago. Cheers! for patronising me though

    Which of those breweries are operating today and/or were operating in the 70's and 80's (aside from Ballantine)?
     
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  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    I was simply detailing American brewing history here.

    Cheers!
     
  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Tom, I think it is also worthwhile to point out that when David G. Yuengling (a German born brewer) opened his brewery in 1829 one of the beers that was part of his portfolio was an American Porter. The brewery was called Eagle Brewery then. That beer may have been branded as Eagle Porter back then similar to how the beer we can buy today is branded Yuengling Porter.

    Needless to say but he had to cater to his American customers of that time.

    George Washington was not alive in 1829 but if he was it would not surprise me to read that he enjoyed drinking Eagle (Yuengling) Porter as well.

    Cheers!
     
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