American Craft Beer Driving Me Back To Imports...

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

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  1. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,545) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    If you really think that the commercial beer options are too limited the other thing you can do is homebrew what you want. For example, I am homebrewing an Oatmeal Stout as I type this message. Homebrewing is really not that difficult and it provides you with the opportunity to obtain the type(s) of beer that you specifically like.

  2. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Dont worry, that atrocity will go away in another 6 to 8 weeks.
    Jonnyoutlaw likes this.
  3. Sokool

    Sokool Initiate (0) Jan 31, 2013 Washington

    I love hoppy/extreme American beer... but if you think that the top 250 beers list and your beer store's shelves are filled with off-balanced and overhopped atrocities, you should just do your part to make things better: Give poor ratings to beers you don't like, and then don't buy them again!
    tronester and Jonnyoutlaw like this.
  4. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (701) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Beer Trader

    From the Op's perspective I would say rather than Olive Garden losing popularity (definitely a good thing) it would be more like a sushi restaurant opening up, who dip their chu-toro in hot sauce and deep fry it to try and "evolve" the dish. I imagine most of Japan would disagree with this being a good stage of evolution.
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  5. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Zealot (503) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    I would say that's a better analogy overall, but it implies that there aren't gems among these extreme interpretations of classic beer styles. Just like there are chefs that take traditional techniques and inject their very own personal sensibilities into their work to create something new and magical, there are brewer equivalents. Have you ever had anything from Alpine? Nelson is a work of art. Ever have anything from Alan Sprints? I doubt he would have been invited by some great breweries in Belgium for collaborations if they thought his work was the equivalent of some Guy Fieri abomination.

    Since you bring up Japan, what do you think of ramen? The ramen of today isn't the same as what it was years ago, yet you have countless people lining up at restaurants in Japan at today's most heralded shops.

    There's a way to pay homage to the greats and tradition while still pushing the craft forward. This is the case with most anything really.
  6. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,193) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    I think my frustration (and maybe same with OP) is that there are just too many hoppy, and not that well made, craft options taking up space and wastin our money, making it hard to track down the better tasting and better brewed ones. For every Sierra Nevada keillerweise that is a well crafted German style Heff. You'll have 10+ other poor attempts by American craft brewers that you could try and dislike and waste money on.
    cran852 and yemenmocha like this.
  7. yemenmocha

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

    One subtle but big point that seems to be lost in here is the oversimplistic and naïve viewpoint that brewers are *only* responding to demand. They also try to be in front of any perceived trends, expand the trends, redirect the trends, and even create them. It's not just a simple response on their part. Consumers are not the only ones to blame here.
    herrburgess likes this.
  8. gory4d

    gory4d Defender (680) Apr 14, 2007 Texas
    Beer Trader

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  9. yemenmocha

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

    Fully agree. Not sure what you think here, but it's also as if they've given up or don't bother to try and produce traditional examples to rival the best imported versions. Relatively speaking, there aren't many doppelbocks that rival the best of what is imported from Germany. There aren't serious Celebrator rivals... because Americans can't brew them. Instead they can brew a birch doppelbock, or a lapsang souchong tea doppelbock, or a maple syrup doppelbock, or coffee doppelbock, or cherry doppelbock, or Jack Daniels doppelbock, etc. I am not making up these examples - these are what we have to put up with from American brewers. The only surprising thing here, to me, is that there aren't more people like the OP who find themselves returning or sticking to the best available imports.
    TongoRad, rozzom and gory4d like this.
  10. LeperJim

    LeperJim Savant (975) Feb 10, 2008 Ohio
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    This level of stimulating beer conversation couldn't have happened 30 years ago.

    I would like to reflect, and give thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit, vision and daring creativity that compelled so many fellow citizens to risk it all and start brewing their own small batches of quality ale. Why did, and do they do it? No doubt to build a career doing what they love, and to hopefully find success at the same time. We BA's are the happy recipients of this endeavor that provides us with ambrosia that comes in soooooooo many flavors. Readily available and relatively inexpensive.

    I love all the choices and I don't mind when breweries throw curve balls at us and stir things up! Bring on the Double Triple IPAs! I wonder what a Quad DIPA is like? I'm also glad some of you BA's dive in and try the Maple-Donut-Baloney-Sandwich-Kiwi-Peach-Whatever! It's great reading!

    Ultimately, we the market will always drive what is mostly being supplied...but the genius craft brewers gotta come up with it first. : ) Going with my last two Lake Erie Monsters tonight. By now they've probably evolved into something akin to a lovely Barleywine.
  11. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,226) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Premium Member

    I agree with this. You don't have to look far to find great American beers that aren't hoppy.

    Remember: Buy American; the job you save may be your own. (Or, instead of your job it could also be the life of your local brewery.)
  12. Ivegotmule

    Ivegotmule Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2012 North Carolina

    Yeah... I like big beers. I guess I must be the problem. The only part that bugs me is American craft breweries are not staying true to the style statement. They aren't trying to. That's why it's American imperial IPA and American imperial stout.
    Stokes_ likes this.
  13. 1fJef

    1fJef Initiate (0) May 4, 2013 Maryland

    Beer is for sure a trend.....NOT
  14. StuartCarter

    StuartCarter Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2006 Alabama

    You are, of course, correct. I missed that completely. Derp.
  15. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (701) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Beer Trader

    I do agree with you. There should be evolution in beer, as there should be in most things. In my opinion though, the people looking to push the evolution should be able to get to grips with base styles, before they think about taking anything to the next level.

    To yemenmocha's point - try and learn how to brew an amazing doppelbock before thinking about a variant. If you can perfect the base beer, then you will naturally have a better idea of what kind of variation or evolutionary step will work, and what won't. Be thoughtful about it (I hate to be a fanboy, but Hill Farmstead comes to mind as a brewery that seems to really be thoughtful in their approach to brewing - not everything they do works, but the vast majority does).

    As I mentioned in a similar thread the other day, I love double IPAs and beers that have seen barrel treatment as much as the next beer geek, but for every example that really works, there are probably five that are:

    a) crap
    b) from a brewery that hasn't been able to perfect a classic style

    To answer your questions. I've never tried Alpine, but I'd love to at some point (I don't trade and I haven't been to that part of California). I've had some HoTD beers, and while they don't tend to brew my favourite styles, I can see why they are typically held in high regards. As for ramen, I love the stuff but can't claim to be an expert on its evolution :slight_smile:
    yemenmocha and herrburgess like this.
  16. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    First post and you're already sucking your own feet?
  17. RobM77

    RobM77 Initiate (153) Feb 14, 2013 Illinois

    but, you can't blame the American Craft Brewers for that - they brew in response to what is wanted and what will sell. The taste of the American Craft Brew drinker is heavily focused on hops (right now). For that you are right. If most craft beer drinkers didn't like it, they wouldn't be creaming themselves rating the stuff 4.5 to 5.0 on BA. Think brewers read the ratings? I don't think Sculpin would be $15 a 6 pack and Hopslam $18 a 6 pack if they didn't read this stuff.
  18. BeerWizard

    BeerWizard Aspirant (287) Dec 22, 2012 Colorado

    What's the point of replicating imports? I mean I like those styles and think they are fine products but see no problem with American craft pushing the envelope to do something different with them. Then again I don't mind hops or high abv, either.
    LeperJim likes this.
  19. tronester

    tronester Meyvn (1,082) Nov 25, 2006 Oklahoma

    I have this problem most so with English Style Ales. It is nearly impossible to get a session bitter or mild in the US that tastes like one from the UK (and has the correct gravity).
  20. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (724) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I agree, however, even more people cream themselves over light beer. But many years ago Sam Adams made a simple amber lager, Sierra Nevada made a hoppy pale ale, and Anchor made a steamed beer that began pushing the envelope of what we know as beer in America. People began buying these, not just because they were different, but because they were GOOD.

    I would argue brewers should begin doing the OPPOSITE of what people want (in your example hops) in order to stand out in the crowd. If brewers actually made solid examples of basic styles (for example, a Helles lager that actually tastes like one from Munich) maybe beer geeks would turn towards them.
  21. ChestSplitter

    ChestSplitter Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2011 Mississippi

    This conversation reminds me of a line I first heard back in the American beer dark ages of the 1980s: Europeans would trash the mass-produced American offerings, saying they tasted like "dish water." I never got the reference back then, but some of the stuff you can get from American craft breweries now is so hopped/citrusy/BITTER that dish water, which contains dish soap, is actually the first thing that comes to mind.

    That being said, I can hardly think of anything more subjective than the taste of beer, and when I criticize the taste of any beer, for whatever reason, I would hope that is never taken as criticism of those who happen to like said beer. I know plenty of people who are proud "hopheads," and many of them have forgotten more about beer than I know. I'm pretty sure I'll never be one, but I'm glad to live in a country where we have access to delicious beer of all sorts from all over the world.
  22. Hoptopher

    Hoptopher Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2013 Tennessee

    It's funny how some some people get so worked up over mundane details to statements posted that are nothing more than opinions, when it would be so much easier to just put down the phone or tablet or step away from the computer and grab a hopped up, or malty, or balanced, or micro, or macro, import, or whatever beer and just enjoy their evening. #perfectworld

    P.S. the hash tag thing was just a joke.#notthatfunny
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,545) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    “If brewers actually made solid examples of basic styles (for example, a Helles lager that actually tastes like one from Munich) maybe beer geeks would turn towards them.”

    There are US craft breweries that make Munich Helles beer like the ones from Munich: Victory Lager, Sly Fox Golden Helles. These are excellent beers but they just do not ‘resonate’ with the BA crowd. I personally drink these beers (as do some others) but most folks are going to buy Victory Hop Devil, Victory Headwaters Pale Ale, etc. before they are going to drink these Helles beers.

    It is not the lack of availability to these kinds of beers. It is the lack of what the majority of US craft beer drinkers want to drink.

    I appreciate that you have an ‘expanded’ palate since I have that palate too but the reality is that a beer like a Munich Helles is not what the majority of US craft beer drinkers want. Look at it this way, more good Helles beers for us!

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  24. victory4me

    victory4me Zealot (547) Oct 16, 2004 Pennsylvania

    There's a time and a place for everything.

    I love an over the top hopped beer often, but just as often I crave the well balanced authentic beers you speak of. In the last year Sly Fox has become one of my favorite breweries and I can't stand their IPA/DIPA options. Royal Weiss is as good an authentic style hefeweizen as I've had. Their Grissette walks the line perfectly between a wit beer and a saison. You can count on one hand the number of American breweries making a better Oktoberfest. Pikeland Pils is a rather hoppier pils, but extremely clean, dry, and true to style. Their Helles Golden Lager is my favorite of all Helles Lagers. All these options are low in alcohol (between 4.6 and 5.6%) and their six packs are priced affordably: all under $8.

    I highly recommend you seek them out if you ever find yourself in SE PA.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  25. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (724) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I hope to try Sly Fox's attempt someday, I've heard good things. Victory Lager is a fine beer, but it doesn't hold up to the Helles I've had IN Munich. For example, if Germans wanted a stellar IPA, I'm sure they could find some fine examples. But the "good examples" won't compare to say, a fresh Heady Topper. I think if more A+ examples of a Helles like I had in Munich were here in the US, more US beer geeks would enjoy this style. Would it be as popular as IPAs, probably not. But I can't say that until Amerian brewers brew better examples.

    And if you enjoy the hell out of Victory's and Sly Fox's, more power to you. I also enjoy Victory Lager, and you're right, more for us!
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,545) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Victory4me stated: “Their Helles Golden Lager is my favorite of all Helles Lagers.” I agree 100% that Sly Fox makes an OUTSTANDING Munich Helles. US craft breweries can indeed make the ‘equal’ of what is brewed in Munich. A properly made Munich Helles is indeed a beer of beauty. It just is not a beer style that is going to be popular with the majority of US craft beer drinkers.

    victory4me likes this.
  27. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,367) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I can not get my hands on Sly Fox Helles in NJ/NY, and it's not for lack of trying; don't tell me I'm going to have to trade with PA?!!:wink: (nah- I'll just have my sister bring some up around Thanksgiving time). I really do want to try that one. I'm not so crazy about Victory Lager, though, but it's been a few years and I've heard that they reformulated it so maybe I should give it another shot. The last time I had it, it was lacking in malt character as well as more expensive than the Munich examples.

    I should be able to get Sly Fox O'fest this weekend, and am looking forward to trying it. That one hasn't been easy to find, either.

    Mostly, though- it seems that the best PA lagers are kept pretty local, so maybe that's why they don't get much traction.
    victory4me likes this.
  28. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,044) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    But what about what is brewed *and* drunk in Munich?
  29. victory4me

    victory4me Zealot (547) Oct 16, 2004 Pennsylvania

    This is a great post and I wrote mine before I read this, which coincidentally made a lot of the same points.

    Well done!
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,545) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    “I'm not so crazy about Victory Lager, though, but it's been a few years and I've heard that they reformulated it…”

    Michael, Victory has indeed reformulated Victory Lager. It is one of my ‘go to’ beers on draft when I go to a Phillies game. While I enjoy drinking Victory Lager, Sly Fox Munich Helles is my personal favorite.

    Needless to say but I am a huge fan Sly Fox Oktoberfest beer. It was my favorite Oktoberfest beer of 2012 (both domestic and imported) and so far it is my favorite of 2013.

    As Victory4me stated, Sly Fox makes a number of great beers. My wife is a HUGE fan of the Rauchbier that they make plus there are many other tasty beers available on draft at the brewpub (and tasting room at the production brewery) that are not otherwise available.

    Maybe you should come down to visit your sister and make a ‘side trip’ to either Pottstown or Phoenixville.


    TongoRad likes this.
  31. LeperJim

    LeperJim Savant (975) Feb 10, 2008 Ohio
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    What are you? Some kind of nut?

    : )

    I'm following your instructions right now. Stepping away from the iPad. Ale. Evening. Briliant idea. Peace.
  32. kgotcher

    kgotcher Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2005 Colorado

    I don't disagree. And i like to keep lots of imports on my usual rotation. I appreciate the attention to malts that get lost in American style beers which tend to be dry and highly hopped. Nothing wrong with that but definitely different from traditional styles across the pond. Give me a nice british ale, maibock or double bock any day. Much love for the malt.
  33. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (526) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Styles haven't remained the same for hundreds of years. The classic British styles only attained their current forms after WW II. Styles have always changed and evolved. The rate of change may have varied, but styles have never remained static.
  34. fx20736

    fx20736 Meyvn (1,026) Mar 7, 2009 New York

    I am not a hop head.
    IPAs bore me.
    I like balanced beers with noticeable bitterness but not bitterness that is overpowering.
    I have found many beers that I like
    I have zero interest in trying the trendy hyped beers

    p.s. I used to like super hot spicy foods that were like eating hot lava. Now I like good tasting food that when appropriate contains enough heat to make the dish interesting and flavorful.
    BuckeyeSlim likes this.
  35. Blueribbon666

    Blueribbon666 Zealot (596) Jul 4, 2008 Ohio

    Great post. I've developed a taste for IPAs that I didn't have when I joined in 2008, mostly through trial and error as with any style looking for what I found to be the most palatable within the given style. Like you, I lean towards the darker stuff & have always been amazed @ the sometimes overwhelming groupie-like status IPAs & the almighty hop receive from the brewer on down to the drinker. I've softened & the amount of variety out there has been great compared to years ago. But I think the worst by-product of the American craft take over is the squeezing out of the imports to the point that the only imports on the shelves are owned by the big conglomerates which are homogenized clones of each other & in fact made even more so to appeal to the AAL dominated landscape in the states. I'm glad there are still places that keep the selection a bit more balanced, but much like record stores, ya gotta find 'em. This of course is more a retail issue than a brewer issue, but for the retailers, demand is everything.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  36. yemenmocha

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

    Good insight, especially about the big IPA's squeezing shelf space so there's reduced variety of imports. The "just drink what you like, quit complaining, and STFU" line that I sometimes hear around here really misses the mark. People can't just drink and let drink - their purchases affect what others can and cannot buy.
  37. BulletsOverHamburgers

    BulletsOverHamburgers Initiate (0) Jul 9, 2013 Virginia

    You don't have to drink the hoppy, high gravity beers if you don't like them. Plenty of balanced, old-world styles brewed in the US you can choose from, what with our 2,000+ microbreweries. I do understand your point, though. Imports rock :slight_smile:
  38. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,044) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    You mean I'm not supposed to be happy that while I can no longer find Franziskaner at my local grocery store, I can now choose from Widmer or Sweetwater Hefeweizen instead. And while Spaten lager is also gone, I now have NB Shift and Lagunitas "Czech" pils. More choices are better, right?
    TongoRad and yemenmocha like this.
  39. yemenmocha

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

    Yeah, or being able to choose local over imported is supposed to be an improvement.
  40. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2006 New York

    What I take issue with is not a lack of options, but the attitude. Hopheadedness is viewed by many American beer geeks as something to "work your way up to" or to which you should aspire, which is a narrow-minded viewpoint. I find it irritating when people insist that the natural evolution of the craft beer drinker is for everyone to eventually transform into a hophead. People seem to believe that you're not "enlightened" and haven't reached the pinnacle of becoming a beer lover unless you're infatuated with ultra hoppy beers. "Oh don't worry, you'll get there one day, your palate just isn't developed yet". No, you're wrong, I've been drinking craft beer for long enough to know that I prefer pretty much every other style of beer over extra double imperial IPAs etc. There are many other beers out there besides IPAs, and not everyone is destine to evolve into a hophead.
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