American Craft Beer Driving Me Back To Imports...

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Nurb, Sep 13, 2013.

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  1. Nurb

    Nurb Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2004 California

    Let me start by saying I like all styles, I have a favorite beer in each one, but my love is wheats, stouts, porters and some German and Belgians... The darker stuff. Problem is that more and more of them are being hopped out of style.

    I got into craft beer well over 10 years ago when more and more microbrewers started popping up, and there was a wide variety available that was juuust starting to expand beyond local markets, and it was good stuff, I enjoyed trying everything out there and developed a taste for my favorite styles.

    As time went on, the hop trend really became the focus of American craft beer, and that's when they started dominating the shelf space at local sellers and things have only escalated in the last couple years to the point many treat hops like they're making/eating hot sauce and cramming in as much as possible. Most do it just to have an IPA or Double IPA just because they realize they "have" to and they taste bland or awful. Things have changed so much, a Double IPA from 5 years ago would be considered just an IPA today. Anyone bringing this up would be told "your taste just isn't refined", "amature beer drinker", or even "You just can't handle real beer" :rolling_eyes:

    "Imperial" is a label put on just about everything now... javas, wheats, Irish ales, oatmeals, Scotish ales, special bitters, barley wines, etc... or a brewer will over-hop a belgian and just call it a "quad", and when I try beer thinking I'm getting a stout, I'm getting an improperly hopped Imperial that the brewer didn't consider out of balance.

    I've learned in the years browsing BA that if a beer has a particularly high rating, it will be because hops is the dominate part of it. Just look at the top 250 list, only one oatmeal stout that isn't a russian imperial espresso smoked barrel whatever, and it's an import! No balance to the list at all. You'd think the only thing that matters is novelty, IBU and ABV.

    Now I'm drifting back to imports because the styles are more balanced and well, more 'true' to their style, and I'm a little disappointed at that because the market is so wonky right now with focus on hops and alcohol content.

    I'll also quote part of an article:
  2. Danny1217

    Danny1217 Champion (852) Jul 15, 2011 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Plenty of American brewers make good interpretations of European styles. You're right in a lot of ways though.

    Try Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss for a good hefe, Founders Dirty Bastard for a good Scotch Ale, Anderson Valley Barney Flats' for a good oatmeal stout, and Ommegang Three Philosophers for a good quad.
  3. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (485) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    I can appreciate your respect for tradition and balance, but I can't help but think that what's happening with you is your taste for beer isn't evolving at the same pace that craft beer in the US is, which is fine. As a consumer, only you can decide what products best fits your tastes.
  4. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (485) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Judging by the dude's join date, I suspect he doesn't need any recommendations and is aware of the options out there.
  5. FEUO

    FEUO Disciple (327) Jul 24, 2012 Ontario (Canada)

    More for me! Thanks!
    MichPaul, russpowell and WeymouthMike like this.
  6. Danny1217

    Danny1217 Champion (852) Jul 15, 2011 Florida
    Beer Trader

    I didn't look at his join date, but I guess you're right. I just felt the need to point out that plenty of people are making good interpretations of European styles
  7. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Agree with OP, however I never really left the imports camp. Still mostly enjoy the best German examples available and many have freshness dating too. Also love Belgians. And I don't think American craft brewers come close to the best German & Belgian examples, contrary to what some will say here.

    The extremism in American craft beer is a good analogy with the hot sauce, as you indicated. :sunglasses:
    Tut, mrk829, plbirder and 13 others like this.
  8. Murphey

    Murphey Initiate (0) May 9, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I think it is just a natural progression of tastes. Obviously, the people voting up the beers in the "top" lists like them. But, it stands to reason some people won't.

    Its funny. . .I used to love many styles, but I find myself drinking hoppy beers almost exclusively - I'm drinking a "Pliny the Elder" homebrew as I type this (talk about hop!).

    Anyway, I'm just saying, there is nothing wrong with you going the direction of imports. But, there isn't anything wrong with the people that embrace the hop-evolution, either.
  9. the_trystero

    the_trystero Disciple (367) Mar 19, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    At the same pace or in the same direction? IMHO, fuck the direction.
    Neary likes this.
  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,105) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “Now I'm drifting back to imports because the styles are more balanced and well, more 'true' to their style, and I'm a little disappointed at that because the market is so wonky right now with focus on hops and alcohol content.”

    Yes, buying imported beer is a genuine option and one that I would recommend to you. We are very fortunate in America that we have lots of choices: US craft brewed beers, imported beers, and yes even American Macro beers.

    Every beer drinker needs to decide what beers they like and thank goodness we have the option to buy what we want!

    Now, there is no doubt that the BA community is ‘fond’ of beers that are BIG: BIG in hops, BIG in alcohol, BIG in Barrel Aging, BIG is lots of things. Having stated that, the vast majority of the beers that US craft breweries are making are not exactly of that ilk. Let’s consider Sierra Nevada Brewery: their flagship beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale which is a tasty beer but it is not extreme by contemporary standards. New Belgium’s flagship beer is Fat Tire which is a ‘nice’ amber ale; absolutely by no means an extreme beer. The flagship beer of Boston Brewery (Sam Adams) is Boston Lager which is a ‘nice’ Amber Lager. And on and on and on.

    So my suggestion to Nurb is that there is a tremendous selection of US craft brewed beers which are not “being hopped out of style”. Feel free to buy those US craft beers or by all means purchase import beers that you like.

    It is all good!

    JimKal, ONovoMexicano, kwill and 3 others like this.
  11. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (485) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Maybe a little bit of both? Change is inevitable so once we accept that one simple fact, it's a lot easier to avoid frustration if things don't evolve the way we want them to. I'll tell you this, though. I'm glad I'm not drinking Folgers anymore! haha
  12. christracy76

    christracy76 Initiate (0) Feb 3, 2012 Ohio

    OP makes a great point about the hop additions lately. It seems like the more bitter, hoppier the better. I don't see the draw in Enjoy By... or Arrogant Bastard as they both taste like potpori. I am personally a much bigger fan of the malty beers but do enjoy a good IPA or Pale Ale as well. Dirty Bastard is one of my favorites...on the other hand, Devil Dancer is another of my favs...but I cant stand the hefeweisens...Drink what you like but don't be afraid to try something new (brewery wise)
    craigo19, Bung and Hoppsbabo like this.
  13. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (485) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader


    We tend to take the options we have available to us for granted. One trip to a place that can be considered a craft beer wasteland is all it takes to appreciate even the pedestrian selection at the local grocery store.
    boddhitree and christracy76 like this.
  14. christracy76

    christracy76 Initiate (0) Feb 3, 2012 Ohio

    Also, hoppy is a trend...give it a few years and im sure it will change to malty as
  15. fritts211

    fritts211 Aspirant (210) Feb 19, 2011 Tennessee
    Beer Trader

    I really like hot sauce.

    Make of that what you will.
  16. BoomKentucky

    BoomKentucky Aspirant (225) Mar 22, 2013 Kentucky

    I am not being driving away. I just have to look harder, but I do agree people are making way too many hoppy beers.
    Hop_juice likes this.
  17. the_trystero

    the_trystero Disciple (367) Mar 19, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    Bring it on!
    BedetheVenerable likes this.
  18. Mikecap

    Mikecap Champion (848) May 18, 2012 Rhode Island
    Beer Trader

    This is a good topic and good thread. Hoppiness is for sure a trend, as much as I love hops, I've had some "imperial" IPAs that are just beyond balance and thought. Heady Topper is a great use of hops IMO, but I've had some bad "imperial" IPAs. I also agree with the OP on the use of the dreaded "imperial." Many of my non-BA friends ask me what "imperial" means, and my typical answer is that yes, it is more hops, more malt, more alcohol, but often times it is a marketing ploy to make you buy said beer.
  19. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (811) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    I like your hot sauce analogy. While I rate hoppy American beer it's usually a bit overkill for me. I find that things which are rich in flavour exhaust quickly.
  20. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,431) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    It's a big tent with a little something for everyone. That's a good thing, especially compared to where we were 20 or 30 years ago.
    stevegoz, frazbri and drtth like this.
  21. BedetheVenerable

    BedetheVenerable Meyvn (1,023) Sep 5, 2008 Missouri

    While I think your argument is a bit over-stated, I also agree with you in many ways, at least in principle. I've recently began drinking a lot of 'everyday' craft beers (simple porters, stouts, wheats, pale ales, etc) that are more reminiscent of beers I drank when first getting into craft. It doesn't have to be 11% and 205 theoretical IBUs to be good. Some of those over-the-top beers are PHENOMENAL (as anyone who's tried KH, fresh Double Crooked Tree, or a properly aged Avery Beast will tell you) but I yearn for the day when fresh, authentic American craft versions of Munich dunkels, English bitters, Bavarian weizens, etc are commonplace.
    JrGtr and Eriktheipaman like this.
  22. Nurb

    Nurb Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2004 California

    Well that's the thing, styles are styles because people like them and stuck to them for hundreds of years, so I don't really share the opinion that taste needs to evolve because of how things lean for 5-6 years :grinning:

    And I appreciate all reccomendations because that's how I learn about new options, saving me time on just browsing blind

    I guess the main concern would be the amount of options available at the shops, IPAs and other imperials take up so much shelf space that alternatives are more difficult often times :slight_smile:
  23. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (485) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    One thing that I do that keeps me somewhat grounded is limiting the extreme and limited stuff to Friday or Saturday night. The rest of the week, I drink simple daily drinkers. It helps on multiple levels, one being I don't get too tired of any one particular style.
  24. creal92

    creal92 Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2013 Kentucky

    Obviously the majority of craft beer drinkers enjoy hoppy beers, or breweries wouldn't keep coming out with them. Get over it. I'm tired of people complaining on here about there being so many hoppy beers in the U.S. craft beer scene and then acting like there are NO other options. Please stop doing this. There are plenty of beers out there from U.S. craft breweries which are not hop bombs. Yes, you may have to look a bit harder, but you are on BEERADVOCATE so I'm sure you have time to look.

    Also what the hell do you mean by "driving me back to imports"? At the stores I do my beer shopping there has always been an option to buy an import and sometimes I do because I enjoy them. I don't limit myself to only buying from U.S. breweries or only from imported breweries based on overgeneralizations, like you seem to do.

    Lastly, here is a link to a thread created 2 weeks which had 5 pages of responses and the OP had the same exact thinking as you. Instead of creating another useless thread to stir up another shitstorm you could use the search function and post your opinions there.
    jman005, Whimpers, Dracarys and 2 others like this.
  25. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (485) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    I dig what you're saying and agree to a certain extent. I'm very much interested in understanding styles in their truest forms, yet, I can quickly get bored if things were to remain stagnant. Maybe it's just my personality, but there's only so much of any one thing that I can take. I can't even stick to one type of cuisine every night (I try to rotate the dishes I cook every night and prepare dishes that can range anywhere from Thai to Continental).

    Also, there are instances when evolution can be a good thing. Can you imagine if Sizzler or Olive Garden were still the juggernauts that they were? If you were served Maxwell House coffee at your favorite restaurant? Can you imagine having to put on a 70s style leisure suit for a night out?
    stevegoz likes this.
  26. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (485) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Relax, dude. I'll take this thread over another Pliny vs Heady thread any day.
    TEKNISHE, Mersh, AlcahueteJ and 5 others like this.
  27. creal92

    creal92 Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2013 Kentucky

    Funny thing is there isn't a Pliny Vs Heady thread on the first 10 pages in Beer Talk at the moment. There is already a thread about this same exact topic that was made very recently and had many opinions/responses. All I'm saying is why couldn't OP take his thoughts there instead of making another thread trying to seperate the U.S. craft beer community into this hoppy vs non hoppy bullshit?
    jman005 likes this.
  28. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,244) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Find a beer store where you can order things you like by the case. PA has a case law so most of what I buy is by the case. In the basement I have about 5 cases total of various beers with shelf lives ranging from 3 mos to 5 years depending on the beer. The 9 bottles I have left of Victory's White Monkey (from the spring) are not particularly hoppy and will be gone in about two years. The 12 bottle case of RR Temptation is mostly gone about 9 mos after buying it (at one a month it was a treat). The Loose Cannon IPA bottled late last month will be gone in about 2 weeks.
  29. LeperJim

    LeperJim Champion (882) Feb 10, 2008 Ohio
    Supporter Subscriber

    Beware: Giant sentence and abusive comma use follows.

    In my poor humble opinion, it is possible, in this age of amazing ale, to enjoy the myriad of ale choices available to those of us who are lucky enough to live in a civilized nation, lucky enough to fill our fridges, cellars, and dark dungeons with nothing but great American craft beer and inspiring import beer, all beer that we love, and yet beer that is NOT necessarily found on ANY of the top ranked lists on BA. That is how good it is to love great ale ~ and be alive right now.
    Bsetz, drh88, Mothergoose03 and 2 others like this.
  30. xShoWTeKx

    xShoWTeKx Devotee (404) Jan 21, 2013 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I completely agree with the OP, I absolutely love hops when I want my fix I reach for something hoppy end of story...... What I don't want is when I'm feeling some malty goodness to try something that is hop bombed to the point of it not even fitting close to the intended style. If the brewers want to make a hop bomb at least label it as such like an IPA or whatever not a 90 IBU imperial stout because you want to balance out the malt, that is not the point of a stout, the whole point is to be malt forward and imbalanced.
    the_trystero likes this.
  31. willbm3

    willbm3 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    I agree. I really started loving IPAs and Pales but I've just gotten sick of the constant bombardment of hops. Since this spring I've really focused on exploring other styles of American and European beers. Lots of pilsners, stouts, bitters, saisons, hefs, octoberfests, even some rauchbiers. Really just trying to stay away from the hops
    BuckeyeSlim and Andrew041180 like this.
  32. bifrost17

    bifrost17 Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2011 Washington

    That sucks.
  33. joelwlcx

    joelwlcx Initiate (198) Apr 23, 2007 Minnesota

    Oh great, another "This beer is too hoppy" thread...

    Brewers gonna brew, haters gonna hate.
    Bsetz, Whimpers, Dracarys and 2 others like this.
  34. WiscoBrewsco

    WiscoBrewsco Aspirant (286) Dec 7, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    You aren't drinking the right beers then because there are tons of fantastic stouts and porters out there with little to no hop presence at all. Especially you being from Illinois I mean look no further than BCBS for a stout with no hop flavor at all. And of course it makes sense that big imperial stouts and DIPA's will dominate the top 250 list. A bigger beer with more ingredients and complexities is gonna have more flavor. Simple as that. If you don't like that about them then you probably are better off sticking to imports that follow all the old purity laws and keep the beer nice and safe and mellow
    ONovoMexicano likes this.
  35. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Defender (602) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Hmm...I never left "imports."
  36. isturbo1984

    isturbo1984 Initiate (0) May 25, 2013 Washington

    Good read. I agree on many points. I just made a thread in fact about a cae of beers that was so hoppy, i thought it had gone bad., or maybe it did. the point is, idunno, lol.
  37. LeperJim

    LeperJim Champion (882) Feb 10, 2008 Ohio
    Supporter Subscriber

    Bingo! The beer tent is dammed big these days!

    : )
  38. Derranged

    Derranged Devotee (479) Mar 7, 2010 New York

    Careful now. Some BA's would take a bullet for hops as it seems.

    I agree that American craft goes a bit overboard with the hops.
    Schwantz likes this.
  39. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    Brewers are going to brew beer that sells. Right now hoppy beers are hot so imagine that, breweries are all cranking out hoppy beers.

    All you have to do is spend a little more time and you'll find whatever styles you seek. But as others have said, I've never left imports, I drink whatever from wherever.
    Jonny_go_Lately and Schwantz like this.
  40. ChesterHop

    ChesterHop Initiate (0) Sep 14, 2010 Connecticut

    It doesn't get any better than American craft beer these days...long live the hop!
    Fluteswell and runfoodrun like this.
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