American Craft Beer Driving Me Back To Imports...

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

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  1. rgordon

    rgordon Crusader (792) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Yes. Some Imperial IPAs from noted brewers make me cringe with alcohol and sweetness- just way out of any concept of balance. Maybe that's what they want? "Imperial' has about as much meaning to beer as "reserve" does to wine- well except for the alcohol part. In any case, I think that both terms are tossed about too easily.
  2. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I haven't read any other posts besides the first one (OP) so I'm not sure what everyone is saying about this. I do agree that most American renditions of the European styles are usually not "stylistically" accurate, though there are arguments to make for a few. I'm not a huge fan of the "hop craze" either, but I haven't noticed it getting in the way of American brewers making great other beers, and it also doesnt really influence what I drink. Another thing I should point out is that that while the "Top 250" list is fun to look at for entertainment, it's merely a reflection of our beer drinking tastes, not necessarily that those are the only beers that brewers are making. Most breweries standard lineups have most beers made "to style", and the few that don't seem to be either "love it or hate it" kind of deals.

    Edit: none of that came out the way I pictured it in my head. Hopefully it makes at least a tad bit of sense.
  3. TdLJg

    TdLJg Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2011 Connecticut

    Agreed. Sounds as if the OP lost some balance and focus in his selection of beers over the last few years.
  4. mtalley999

    mtalley999 Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2011 Maryland

    Not much else to say that hasn't been said about why the American craft brew scene is focused on hops. If you want to stay in business, sell what the consumer wants.

    I do wonder about all this talk of beers lacking balance. I don't think its a secret that many of the beers I hear being lambasted for the lack of balance aren't really supposed to be balanced to begin with. For many DIPA's and some IPA's I think the malt presence is there to tone down some of the hop profile to make them palatable, rather than provide balance. Those beers don't seem to be about all the flavors melding together in harmony, which is what I think of when I hear "balanced." They are brewed to melt your face with hops. Tough to do any face melting if your beer is balanced.
  5. bmony26

    bmony26 Initiate (183) May 2, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Port Huron Brewery in the Wisconsin Dells are making great beers that are true to their style. Their hefeweizen is amazing, in my opinion.
  6. marquis

    marquis Crusader (762) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    There seems to be an assumption that European styles are somehow static. They have in fact, at least in this country, been continually evolving and changing though some old favourites remain. I can buy a bitter just the same as I was drinking 50 years ago; equally I can buy any number of bitters quite unlike anything available at that time.We too are dusting off the record books!
    Hoppsbabo, LeperJim, zid and 2 others like this.
  7. Peter_Wolfe

    Peter_Wolfe Initiate (157) Jul 5, 2013 Oregon

    There are a lot of overly hoppy beers out there that are completely out of balance, OP is right about that. But the overall selection is so large that there are still a lot of malt forward or sessionable beers to be found. Really it's a fantastic time to be a beer drinker - possibly the best time in human history. Sure there are new hop varieties coming out every year, and breweries experimenting in every direction possible (flavored with moon rocks, aged inside a camel!), but there are still lots of tried-and-true balanced ales being made if you want a break from the hop firehose. I personally like both; I like a balanced sessionable beer some of the time, but other times I want to be beaten with hops until I can't feel my tongue anymore.

    Which imports are you drinking nowadays, OP?
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  8. rgordon

    rgordon Crusader (792) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Well, Heady Topper is to me a perfect "melding" of the in your face hops and a malt presence you notice. It is a delectable beer, smooth, easy to drink and also very hoppy/bitter. Not many accomplish this feat. There are many that run that more tropical hop profile that give you that bitter/tangy/mandarin orange marmalade, that are smooth and easy and are way more technically bitter than you might suppose. It really is a matter of taste. For me, the IPAs that I enjoy generally top out around 8%. Balance is what makes you want several.
    utopiajane and mtalley999 like this.
  9. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Zealot (515) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, this confuses me as well. I can't say I've ever had an American stout and thought "man, that's hoppy."

    As for Americans "going to far" I can understand the complaint for barrel-aging or beers made with cupcakes and beards, but not for something that just extends an existing style. Heady Topper for instance is no more "extreme" or "outrageous" or "irresponsible" than Rochefort 10. I'll never understand why some people find adding extra hops to beer so alarming while pouring in inverted sugar is A-OK.
    BrettHead, zid and herrburgess like this.
  10. StuartCarter

    StuartCarter Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2006 Alabama

    Victory Storm King
  11. mmmbirra

    mmmbirra Aspirant (208) Apr 19, 2009 Italy

    I remember the first time I had a fresh Yeti I thought "what are all these citrusy hops doing in my stout!?"
    I still think it's way too hoppy, not too bitter, but to me a citrusy nose doesn't fit in a 9.5% abv RIS.
  12. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    To each their own. There are some of us who wouldn't be all that interested in craft beer if it were not for the hoppy beers. That's why there are so many choices.
  13. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Zealot (512) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    Bingo! The OP's psychic or something.
    zid and alucard6679 like this.
  14. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (508) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Honestly, I don't think it's the evolution of his taste at all. I think it's the exact opposite. It's the Johnny-come-lately folks with little to no evolution in their beer tastes who are craving these out-of-style, over-hopped, alcohol bombs. From what I read and my own personal experience, after few years of chasing various "innovative" unbalanced beery messes, most beer advocates come back to appreciate the classic styles. The popularity of craft beer has been exploding so much lately that there are lot of "new" consumers seeking these out-of-style beers so the brewers are filling that need.

    As a more general statement, I think BA's have to keep in mind that a big reason brewers make these crazy beers is to garner attention, which clearly they are, even though their regular "flagships" are paying the bills. The crazy beers get over-represented on BA and the media, in general, because no one is going to post online or write newpaper articles about a brewer's new classic scotch ale or German pilsner. Examples....Rouge got a ton of nation-wide free press for their Maple Bacon Voodoo Donut beer, but they know Dead Guy keeps the lights on. Sam Adams gets press for Utopia's, but Boston Lager is their money-maker. Dogfishhead got a TV reality show for the outlandish beers they make, but it's the steady sales from 60-minute IPA that even allow them to consider doing all that other stuff.
  15. DamonP

    DamonP Initiate (0) Jun 13, 2013 Massachusetts

    Maybe double-hopped IS the new evolution of a uniquely American style. People in Europe will be buying it for the same reason that we Americans buy Belgians - for a specific regional taste.

    About time the US got its own thing rather than just imitating ancient European formulas.
    Murphey likes this.
  16. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,045) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    It's the same mentality behind the conflation of intensity of flavor with complexity. Somehow your palate is more evolved not if it can detect ever-more subtle nuances of flavor, but rather if it can stand up to a full-on hop assault or the beer equivalent of bourbon-infused brownie batter.
    BuckeyeSlim, patto1ro, rozzom and 6 others like this.
  17. rgordon

    rgordon Crusader (792) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I Really like this. Thank you.
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  18. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (261) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    As of now my fridge is mainly full of hefes, pilsners and relatively tame pale ales; I also have a four pack of Double Jack (bottled on the 4th, you have no idea how giddy I was) and a four pack of Narwhal. All of it brewed right here in the USA, and all of it excellent. So OP, while I do definitely see what you're saying, I never feel as though my options are limited when it comes to quality American craft beer.

    And for the record there are also plenty of outstanding readily available imports that I never neglect for too long, cheers : )
  19. Jules11788

    Jules11788 Initiate (0) Feb 15, 2011 California

    Maybe the area where you live just has shitty distro. I can go to a multitude of liquor stores or even the Total Wine by my house and find more than enough beers that aren't "hoppy" or bastardizations of their style. Don't blame it on the American craft beer industry, because there are plenty of "dark" beers out there to be had.
  20. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Zealot (502) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    The way beer is being brewed is evolving, make no mistake about it. The average craft beer on the shelf today isn't the same as what it was in the 90s. Whether you agree with the direction of it's evolution is entirely different matter. That's what I meant by my statement. The OP has a preference for more restrained or classical approaches to styles, but that preference isn't matching current trends or the direction craft beer is moving. I was never speaking ill of his palate.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  21. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Zealot (502) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Narwhal is tasting pretty amazing right now.
  22. Jonnyoutlaw

    Jonnyoutlaw Initiate (0) Sep 12, 2013 Kentucky

    While I do love my hoppy beers ie the IPA, double IPA etc. I will always love my imports, and to be honest the rest of the world I going through a craft phase on some level. England for instance is really pushing craft brewers, I think the one problem IMHO is that most imports are from larger distros which sometimes works against them. There are some newer and smaller "import" breweries that are killing it. For me an oldie but a good is the Sam Smiths TaddyCaster a traditional Yorkshire beer that goes down like water but has everything I want in a beer.
  23. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (717) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Are we the same person? See my thread above, although I think you worded it far better and more to the point than I did. Same as you, I got into craft beer a decade ago (ok, 9 years ago) and I've seen the same thing you have. Imperials, hops, and now pumpkin all over the liquor store. Like you, I also love many styles (I don't hate IPAs!) but there's no balance. I drift towards imports these days as well, or homebrews (for my English ale fix). The problem with the imports obviously being freshness. Some American breweries do some great basic styles, but they're the exception rather than the rule these days.
  24. lovethebelgians

    lovethebelgians Initiate (176) Apr 25, 2013 Illinois

    Couldn't agree with you more, that's why sometimes I just go in thinking I'm going to try something I haven't had yet and then instead I pick up some Hofbrau or Stephaner and I know I'm going to know the flavors and enjoy them so much, there's nothing like a good German or Belgian, they do it so well.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  25. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (261) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona


    Looking forward to cracking one open when I get home from work
  26. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (717) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I would actually argue the opposite. The more developed your palate becomes, the greater your ability to pick up complexity and subtlety in something such as a basic English bitter on cask. When I first got into craft it was....", 60 minute is pretty good.....but 90 minute, even better. What's this 120 minute!? WOW! Stone IPA, delicious, but Ruination, I need more HOPS."

    Many of the people I talk to who are getting into craft today immediately ask, "What's your favorite IPA?" It's like the guy who just discovered the gym for the first time, "Yeah but, how much do you bench?"
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  27. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Zealot (502) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Please see my reply to another guy above. Perhaps evolution was a poor choice of words.
  28. rgordon

    rgordon Crusader (792) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    "Which is better, more or less? MORE!!" Even the little kids on TV get it. Honestly though, as hackneyed as this subject is, it will continue to be bandied about and never resolved. I love German lagers, English ales, tons of US ipas, and on and on. One's subjective taste can overide critical perspective, usually does. Cheers all on a lovely Friday!
  29. StuartCarter

    StuartCarter Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2006 Alabama

    I don't understand why you refer to dark beers? English Bitter, Scottish 60, 70, and 80 Shilling, German Pils, Belgian Strong Golden are just a handful of tasty beers that are not malt or hop bombs, and that are not dark in colour.
  30. PghBeerAlien

    PghBeerAlien Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I was wondering when someone was going to mention this. I choose beers from the US 95% of the time mainly because I can depend on them being fresher. I guess this could be a complete non-issue if you go to a store with a huge turnover in import inventory.
    stevegoz likes this.
  31. BILF

    BILF Initiate (0) Jan 9, 2010 Israel

    When you look I look at photos on "Latest Haul', "Drinking Now", "Beer Porn" threads and can't access even one of the beers in the hundreds of photos (I don't trade) it makes me wish that someday I can make it to the USA to try those beers you are tired of. Hell, I'd give my left nut just to even smell some of those hoppy American craft beers.
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  32. dougfur

    dougfur Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2011 New York

    I guess I've never tasted a beer that was too hoppy. Too bitter, yes...but too much hop aroma? Too much hop taste? hmmm...
  33. Jonnyoutlaw

    Jonnyoutlaw Initiate (0) Sep 12, 2013 Kentucky

    I would say you are 100% correct in this and I agree as to choosing US beers at that high of a percentage. Luckily where I go there is a huge import turnover where I have yet to come across a flat or unsavory beer due to freshness, I also tend to stick with British beers though.
  34. Jules11788

    Jules11788 Initiate (0) Feb 15, 2011 California

    Because in the original post he refers to wanting "dark" beers. To quote:
    "...but my love is wheats, stouts, porters and some German and Belgians... The darker stuff."

    This is in the very first sentence of his post
    kwill likes this.
  35. OldPenguinHunter

    OldPenguinHunter Initiate (0) Oct 13, 2010 California

    I totally agree; I too, find myself wanting something more easy to drink, for the first time in ages I started picking up import pils, and German lagers, and Belgian wits just to get away from the either the over-hopped or over-done beers (I wanted an imperial porter, Southern Tier -not diabetes...) with that being said, I haven't given up on our beer scene for the long haul, I just need a breather from all the hops, booze, and acid...
  36. Leebo

    Leebo Initiate (180) Feb 7, 2013 Massachusetts

    So, to the OP, what breweries in your area have you tried and liked? Maybe some with some German background/ history?
  37. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (717) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Two things after reading this entire thread...

    1) To all those saying I'm sick of hop-bashing, did you read the original post? He doesn't JUST complain about hops.

    2) To all those saying there's a myriad of options beyond extreme/hoppy beers, have you traveled outside the US? Specifically, have you tried the best Europe has to offer (many of these options aren't available here)? Because the majority of the beers at the store/on draft do not match the quality of these breweries. You're left with commercial German imports that occasionally are fresh (Weihenstephaner, Jever...etc.) and the few and far between options of US brewers that brew true-to-style.

    As far as English ales....don't even get me started on cask in the US....
  38. Jonnyoutlaw

    Jonnyoutlaw Initiate (0) Sep 12, 2013 Kentucky

    Agreed 100% and German imports are the big ones we are really missing out on.
  39. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    You wonder, when he quotes something about Widmer, when that is decades old news.
  40. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,482) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Great insight. Right on the mark.
    Ranbot and OldPenguinHunter like this.
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