Has American Craft Beer exceeded European Beer.

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BreakingBad, Nov 19, 2012.


Has American Craft beer surpassed European beer?

  1. Yes

  2. No

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  1. RochefortChris

    RochefortChris Meyvn (1,257) Oct 2, 2012 North Carolina
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    One has to remember that America very few original beer styles it can call its own. (I'm referring to the official BJCP style guidelines) That being said, it can be concluded that American craft breweries are essentially making European style beer. Some of the few major differences are Europeans don't imperialize everything and don't age their beers in liquor barrels. Pretty much what I'm saying is America is on par with Europe because its brewing European style beers because everyone got tired of drinking piss in a can from places like BMC and Pabst. The only beer style America has going for it in terms of surpassing Europe is an American IPA and all its variants. Yes there are some brrweries like Rogue and Dogfish Head that fool around with odd types of beer but on the grand scale of things, America is only on par with Europe due to its quality reproduction (for the most part) of European style beers.
    cpinto6 likes this.
  2. epk

    epk Initiate (148) Jun 10, 2008 New Jersey

    And even harder to hide them in crisp clean Lagers and Pilsners as compared to an estery ale of the same abv.

    And also, on the sentiment that the U.S. can't produce high quality Belgian-style ales (in reference to the comment mentioning trappist ales), I'd say Ommegang does quite well - though I suppose they aren't wholly American anymore.
  3. Mavajo

    Mavajo Zealot (572) Feb 10, 2007 Georgia

    Obnoxious much? I said exactly what I meant. Instead of trying to correct a statement that wasn't wrong, try working on your reading comprehension.
  4. epk

    epk Initiate (148) Jun 10, 2008 New Jersey

    Go Cali Common! Does Adjunct Lager count for us? By sheer volume we must make the best adjunct lagers eva!
  5. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (389) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    If the main yardstick employed to demonstrate American predominance is in the realm of big beers I can't say I'm that enthusiastic about American predominance, which sucks, because I put on my stars-and-stripes jumpsuit to read this thread.

    The reference above to the UK's many, many flavorful low-ABV brews increasingly sounds like paradise to me.
  6. Daemose

    Daemose Devotee (426) Oct 3, 2011 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Jester King kicks Europe's collective ass.
  7. Jeffo

    Jeffo Poo-Bah (2,761) Sep 7, 2008 Netherlands

    This topic comes up every now and then and often turns into a chest thumping party.

    On the one hand, American's are generally more experimental and they do some things really well. Hoppy beers and barrel aging come to mind. I really appreciate this and seek them out often. Sure, there some some very traditional and perhaps "boring" breweries in the USA, but the "crazy shit" usually comes from the US. Either there, or the De Molen, Struise, Mikkeller trio over here.

    On the other hand, Europeans still do the traditional styles better. A Czech pils is great, triples and lambics are better in Belgium, ballanced low ABV beers are better in the UK, and wheat beer is way better in Germany.

    Right now, the most innovative regions are the USA and Scandinavia, though the later was indeed influenced by the former. In the end, I would say the USA is more innovative, but Europe is still better with traditional styles. I appreciate all of it.

    cpinto6 and omnigrits like this.
  8. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,323) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    There is an implication in there I don't really think I can get behind- that there are flaws lurking in many favorite beers here. That adage does tend to get thrown around a lot, but I believe it was originally intended as a a warning to homebrewers. On a professional level I can't think of any highly regarded 'big and/or hoppy' beer that is regularly hiding flaws- or of one that is even capable of hiding flaws. Diacetyl, dms, infection, oxidation etc. are always apparent no matter the gravity or composition of the beer. And (I may be pretty selective with what I buy, fwiw) it is extremely rare that I encounter a flawed strong beer.
    luwak and Errto like this.
  9. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,353) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Now wholly owned by Moortgat.
  10. cinghialetwo

    cinghialetwo Initiate (0) Oct 20, 2012

    right, but i think we must try everything to develop the best beer. And if that must to taste and to declare the winner , I'm the first.
    For me there are a lot of winner.
    Sorry for my Cambridge's english.
    luwak likes this.
  11. pixieskid

    pixieskid Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2009 Germany

    Just saying that your statement of "trappist beers" is in fact wrong; trappist is not a style or type of beer; regardless of the country of origin.

    What you're saying is that in your opinion, the only thing worthwile/better than in the US in Belgium is lambic and beers produced by or for trappist monks? What about all of the quads and triples brewed by other great belgian brewers that dont happen to have a little logo that says a monk made it...

  12. herrburgess

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

    While not necessarily a flaw, I would say that heavily hopped beers hide the general inferiority of American 2-row malt. I'd also say the relative inferiority of US craft lagers is due to their use of American 2-row.
    DeutschesBier likes this.
  13. cinghialetwo

    cinghialetwo Initiate (0) Oct 20, 2012

    Sorry is come from middle age that monks produce beer
    I think monks have a little experience
  14. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,437) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    European beers we equal brewed traditionally:
    Imperial Stout
    Sweet Stout
    English Barley Wine

    Some of these styles have American style counterparts that the rest of the world can't even touch. Add barrel aging to the mix, and the gulf becomes huge.
    Styles we made our own and have no equal anywhere, Europe included

    American Saisons
    American Wild Ales
    American Lambic-inspired Fruit beers
    American Hoppy Pale, IPA, IIPA, and American Barley Wine
    Fruit and vegetable beers
    Russian Imperial Stout

    Our future includes equaling and surpassing Belgian lambic-style of all sorts including gueuze, surpassing Germany in Hefe and Pilsener, and now that sessionable beer is catching on, in a few years the best milds, bitters, pales will be on this side of the Atlantic.
    luwak and checktherhyme like this.
  15. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Initiate (183) Jul 1, 2009 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    It’s not a war. Better beer either side of the Atlantic, everybody wins.
    guillemiro and Wreckoncile like this.
  16. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,437) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Yes, it was only a "war" when we were losing:wink: I kid, I kid. Better beer everywhere indeed = everybody wins.
  17. Dope

    Dope Poo-Bah (2,384) Oct 5, 2010 Massachusetts

    I came in here to post this. Jack's Abby is a lager-only brewery and they have some amazing brews. Their worst beers are merely "good". In a very short time they've basically crapped on several different previous favorites in various styles (for me, anyway).

    tendermorsel likes this.
  18. BedetheVenerable

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

    I voted 'yes' above, but I must add a big caveat. In terms of sheer variety, inventiveness, and passion, America may have a bit of an edge nowadays. However, the best wild ales and saisons are still brewed in Belgium, the best session ales in England, and some of the best lagers in Germany. Also, there's a lot I don't like about the drinking culture in America as, say, opposed to that in England (from the few months I spent there, at least). Why either/or? Howzabout all of the above :slight_smile:
  19. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,353) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    What does Olde Mecklenburg use?

    When I was at Prost in Denver, the brewers had on the red Weyermann overalls, and there were supersacks of Weyermann malts in the brewery. After the 3rd Pils I said, yeah, that is really good. The Dunkel was too.
  20. herrburgess

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

    You have to have a special relationship with Weyermann to get the red overalls! Olde Meck uses primarily Weyermann. They recently began using Best Malz for their pils as well.

    EDIT: have to get out to Prost sooner rather than later. I highly suspect they belong on that (very) short list of U.S. brewers that do German styles right.
  21. lester619

    lester619 Zealot (530) Apr 17, 2009 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    By light years. I admit to a certain amount of ingorance when it comes to European beers. But if there was a run-of -the-mill, skunky German lager in a green bottle in front of me, I think I would go for a Coors Light.
    Skoallrebel likes this.
  22. dandano

    dandano Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2012 Virginia

    I found a craft beer store in Paris when I went this spring. Many French craft beers in addition to the expected Belgians. As in the U.S., some were okay, and one or two (Cuvee d'Oscar comes to mind) were very good. And here I was thinking there was no craft beer in France! Also, I have had at least one American Hefe from Devil's Backbone that was very good, although they don't sell that one in stores.

    I don't know who came up with the original question here, and I don't think anyone is "out in front," but there is *always* more to find out about beer brewing in any region.
  23. Mavajo

    Mavajo Zealot (572) Feb 10, 2007 Georgia

    I never said "trappist beer" was a style, so I don't know why you keep going on about that. You're not teaching me anything new here, kid.

    Yes, in general, I find the Belgian style beers brewed by the Trappist breweries to be a cut above the rest -- the one notable exception perhaps being St. Bernardus, although you can make a claim that they might as well be a "cousin" of the Trappist breweries, considering they used to brew for Westvleteren.
  24. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Zealot (579) Nov 6, 2007 California

    You must be drinking the wrong beers then. They aren't the majority, but there are plenty of pilsners, hefeweizens, and doppelbocks made in the US that rival anything in Germany.
  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,487) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    All of my local Pilsner craft breweries use imported German Pilsner Malt: Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Victory Prima Pils, Troegs Sunshine Pils, Stoudt’s Pils.

    Due to this ‘competition’ the local brewpubs use imported German Pilsner malt to make their Pilsners: Iron Hill, Manayunk, Triumph, etc.

    Victory is widely distributed to most US states (30 states?).

    Sam Adams Noble Pils is brewed with imported malt and is available in every US state:

    “Samuel Adams Noble Pils is brewed according to the Bohemian tradition. We start with a special Bohemian spring barley that has been crafted using old world, labor intensive techniques, called floor malting.”

    I suppose that I am lucky that I have lots of Pilsner choices that are not made from 2-row malt?


    P.S. I am doing a reply simply to 'add on' to this discussion.
    brewbetter likes this.
  26. cinghialetwo

    cinghialetwo Initiate (0) Oct 20, 2012

    it is impossible say "we are the best"
    Everybody can improve from the otthers. Someone , copy, someone develop new beers.I hope to taste a lot of beer, and I hope in future brewers try to improve the craft beer.
    Giovannilucano likes this.
  27. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Questions end in question marks.
  28. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,021) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Never mind that if you pour that German beer vigorously into a good glass you can dissipate all the skunkiness and have a more flavorful beverage than Coors Light will ever be.

    (I honestly can't think of any good reason to choose a Coors Light)
  29. herrburgess

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

    Would be interested to know the producers they use. Do you know from having toured the breweries?
  30. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Zealot (579) Nov 6, 2007 California

    I regret that I didn't try any of their beers when I was at GABF this year. But Chuckanut's lagers were outstanding and I know they use Weyermann. I work with their former head brewer and he has the red overalls. Lucky bastard. We use all Weyermann for our lagers as well. We started using the super sacks which are pretty awesome. I think I'm going to try to make a tent out of one.

    Things might change in the future as the demand for more flavorful malt grows in the US, but as long as our malting barley is mainly grown to be malted for adjunct lagers, that's going to be hard.
    herrburgess likes this.
  31. youbrewidrink

    youbrewidrink Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2009 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    What's with the" who's better" .There is great beer from both. Why does everything have to be a competition.
    nanobrew likes this.
  32. Vanlingleipa

    Vanlingleipa Disciple (394) May 19, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Just what we needed: another exercise in ethnocentricbeerism and another chance for people who don't know their ass from a butt plug to pontificate.

    Personally, I feel damn warm and fuzzy about living in a time where the wild tastiness of new American brewhouses is coming of age in an era where Europeans have preserved and still brew beer styles that have existed for centuries. And best of all, how American and European brewers seem committed to learning from each other.

    All we have to do is sit back, pop a top, and enjoy the view.
    luwak, TMoney2591, guillemiro and 2 others like this.
  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,487) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Of the four mentioned breweries I have only been to Stoudt’s and I had a conversation with one of the brewers. He mentioned they used imported German Pilsner Malt but made no mention of the maltster (and I didn’t ask).

    Victory doesn’t detail the maltster on their website:


    At Victory we believe that the very best ingredients are necessary in order to brew the very best beer. Here, German malted barley, a mix of European and American whole flower hops, 45 unique yeast strains (for our wide variety of beers), and the highest quality local water is blended to create our refined brews.

    Note: Victory is one of only a few breweries in the country that uses whole flower hops. While almost all other breweries used pelletized hops, Bill and Ron insist on using the whole-flower varieties. This unprocessed form of hops imparts better flavor and aroma to beer.”

    Sly Fox lists for the Pikeland Pils: A Northern German style Pilsner brewed with imported German Pils malt and hopped with German and Czech hops. Light in body, light straw in color and dry

    All that I could find on the Troegs website was mention of: “ …we bring in malt from Germany packed in bags and shipped in containers.”

    I know that Iron Hill, Manayunk, and Triumph utilize German Pilsner malt since it was detailed in their beer menus. I don’t recall if they made mention of the maltster.

    So, all I know is that German Pilsner malt is used but I don’t really know from which maltster.


    P.S. I would guess that Sam Adams uses Weyermann floor malted Bohemian Pilsner malt but that is only a guess.
  34. Aaron58

    Aaron58 Initiate (199) Dec 16, 2007 Massachusetts

    Its impossible to say whats "better", but I will say this. Im a retailer with what I consider a small, but very well seclected Craft beer selection. When I first started in this business in 2006, we had a large european selection. Always had Chimay, St. Bernardus, Carolous, Affligem, plus things like ommegang, unibroue and other very belgian inspired brews. In 2012, i have a significantly smaller amount of these types of beers based on what the customers are looking for. My entire selection is almost all domestic, and specifically local(MA). I feel as though people are drinking way more domestic than imported these days. Even the big stores in my area, some very well known for beer, I notice have a very slow turnover with Belgians, UK, and other euros
  35. Giovannilucano

    Giovannilucano Devotee (452) Feb 24, 2011 New Jersey

    This is a topic which can be very sensitive to both sides. Let me add my experience and thoughts to it.

    Despite me being an Italian, I do have the greatest respect for many American breweries, and I enjoy many great brews made here. At the same time, I also have love for many of the European beers, because I for one was raised in Italian tradition and this also lets me respect the German, Spanish, French, Austrian, and many more countries tradition.

    I cannot speak for any other Europeans or Americans who do live abroad, but I can say for one thing, that I personally love to be humble with my love for both American and European beer. I am THE Italian Beer avvocato and will carry this with me for a long time to come...

    And also there are those who do not believe in carrying tradition, and to me this is also respectable.

    Better ingredients? Tough one! Hmm my wife has traveled to Italy as well and comments very highly on the quality and freshness of Italian ingredients and the lifestyle of food culture. I for one have traveled to many states in America, living in some of the coolest places, and I have seen the emergence of slow food in many states, and this makes me happy. Whether you believe in Slow Food or not, we Italians have enjoyed this approach to food, and it is this approach to beer that we take in. We can follow tradition AND experiment at the same time!

    My good fellows and ladies, how ever you enjoy your beer, enjoy it with all your heart and passion! :grinning: I hope to make you guys and ladies happy with my passion!

    Salute, amici!
    luwak, cinghialetwo, MaxOhle and 2 others like this.
  36. Sarlacc83

    Sarlacc83 Crusader (752) Mar 2, 2008 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Until I can walk into my grocery store and get a beer as good as Trappistes Rochefort 10 for < $2 a bottle or a sour as good as Cantillon or 3F for <$5 per bottle (Yes, they are that cheap over in Belgium), then the answer is a resounding no.
    herrburgess likes this.
  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,487) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    This past weekend I had a pint of Smuttynose Vunderbar Pilsner. As you can read in the below description that beer is made with German malt. I thought it was an OK beer but not up to par with the other Pilsners I mentioned.

    “Made for taking a break from the Sturm und Drang of modern life, this elegantly refreshing pilsner was created with German malt balanced with the spicy tang of Czech Saaz hops. The bread and biscuit flavors of the grain are topped with the floral character of the Noble hop, which may just get you to shimmy into your favorite lederhosen, bust into a quick schuhplattler and loudly proclaim, “Das ist Vunderbar!”


    P.S. Smuttynose has a pretty good distributuon; something like 20 states.
  38. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,353) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    So, did they spell it phonetically so that it would be pronounced correctly? A German would pronounce that as Funderbar, BTW.
  39. lester619

    lester619 Zealot (530) Apr 17, 2009 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    I can think of a few, but point taken.
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,487) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    For those interested in beer competitions below is from the recent World Beer Cup 2012 fact sheet:

    “Breweries from the following 21 countries won awards in 2012 (awards won):
    Argentina (2)
    Australia (4)
    Austria (3)
    Belgium (8)
    Bolivia (1)
    Canada (13)
    China (1)
    Czech Republic (2)
    Denmark (1)
    Germany (23)
    Haiti (1)
    Iceland (1)
    Italy (2)
    Japan (4)
    Lithuania (2)
    Malta (1)
    Mexico (1)
    Netherlands (3)
    Russian Federation
    United Kingdom (2)
    USA (208)”

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