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. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,251) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Problem is its not just beer. You provide the counter to your own conclusion by pointing out that it is deeply imbeded in and is an expression of culture as well.
  2. 2melow

    2melow Initiate (0) Oct 15, 2009 Colorado

    I go to Europe several times a year for business and my German counterparts don't think what we drink is actually beer. The German purity laws are so ingrained most don't venture too far from their traditional brewing history. The Belgians on the other hand love what we are doing here in the US. I think they are much like the US with their experimentation. There are a lot of sleeper and unknown belgian beers out there.
  3. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,251) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Ah, if only the situation were so simple.
  4. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    It's worked pretty well for the purposes of creating the BA Top 100 lists...especially among the U.S. craft beers included therein. :wink:
    keithmurray and steveh like this.
  5. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    In fact if your German friends would take the trouble to do some research on German "brewing tradition" they would find that the German "purity laws" were forced upon them in the early 20th century;before this they were restricted to Bavaria. Many ancient beer styles were lost as they became illegal.One thing which they might find difficult to believe is the amount of rice used in German brewing- where do they think Adolphus Busch got his ideas from?
  6. RichardMNixon

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

    This is what I've found myself wondering. American craft beer knocks the socks off Beck's, Guiness, Heineken, et al. no contest, but as I'm sure it's near impossible to find DFH, Founders, Bell's, Stone, etc. in Europe, I find myself wondering about new breweries there in the same spirit that just don't make it to these shores.
  7. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Meyvn (1,126) Mar 1, 2009 California

    Each do their own style better. I'd say American brewers are pushing the envelope harder however.
  8. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    Technique-wise: not by a long shot. I do believe that persistent American flavor innovation will keep driving European brewers forward as well, which is nice, obviously.
  9. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,318) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Nothing like comparing the US craft beers to the industrial macro beers. Becks is now brewed in St. Louis Mo if you haven't seen that fact.
  10. Etan

    Etan Initiate (0) Jul 11, 2011 Wisconsin

    I agree with all of this. But then insofar as people have different goals (bottles at home vs. pub, high gravity vs. session, etc...), it makes no sense to compare them in the context of a competition. But I think you'll agree.
  11. RichardMNixon

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

    That's precisely my point. I don't want to compare Russian River to Stella Artois or even to St. Bernardus for that matter, I want to compare it to local Eurobrews that aren't any more available in the US than Pliny is in Belgium. Unfortunately I can't by the very nature of my quest.
  12. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,244) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Some of it relates to what they see from us, too. The most common imports they get from North America are Miller Genuine Draft and Corona. That probably doesn't help :stuck_out_tongue: - but you are right that they are a bit Deutsche-centric.
    It's kind of like asking random Americans what their favorite German beer is. I just about guarantee the most common answer you'll get is "Heineken."
    TongoRad likes this.
  13. drabmuh

    drabmuh Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2004 Maryland

    There are definitely examples of superior beers from Europe but the USA has figured this beer thing out mostly and if it continues to get better it will be hard to make the argument that the USA isn't the leader in quality beer.
    cavedave likes this.
  14. BigCheese

    BigCheese Defender (689) Jul 4, 2009 Massachusetts

    As a home brewer it actually takes real skill to only get a few good flavors in a 3.8% session beer.

    Hops are kinda like hot sauce, doesnt matter if you burnt your chicken or not it will still taste like franks red hot.
  15. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,138) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    Ok, so then tell me why no American brewer has come up with a German or Belgian style brew that is as good or better than the originators have and continue to produce? If the US has truly exceeded their European counterparts, I would have expected, at the very least, for that to have happened by this time.
  16. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (381) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    If the USA was conceived in liberty, why are so many of its brewers fixated upon taking Old World beer styles and imperializing them? I'd better check the index of my Tocqueville.
  17. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    You may want to check Harold Bloom's "Anxiety of Influence" as well!
  18. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (381) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts


    Indeed, beer in America is both politics and poetry.
    herrburgess likes this.
  19. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,251) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I can't tell you that, because there are some who brew at least some German styles in the US that are well above the average quality for that style when found in Germany or the US. Most German brewers of German styles are quite average and don't exceed their counterparts in Germany either.
    cavedave likes this.
  20. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,972) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Someone once told me Leinenkugel. :grinning:
  21. RichardMNixon

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

    They certainly can't if the standard for what makes a good Belgian Strong Pale Ale is "tastes like Duvel." I wouldn't deny that there are differences, nor would I state that Americans are some sort of brewing pantheon looking down upon the rest of the world, just that we're at worst their equals. The problem is the framing of your question. Your challenge could just as easily be flipped the other way around. If the monks of St. Sixtus are so great, when should we expect to have our palates wrecked by Westvleteren IPA?
    drtth and cavedave like this.
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,306) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Same guy's favorite Chinese beer is probably Ying Ling. :wink:
    steveh and cavedave like this.
  23. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,291) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    For the purposes of all further discussions in which you reply with the word beer, I am going to replace it in my head with "German lager", and then I will be able to understand your points the way you obviously intend them. Perhaps you can do the same for me and instead of thinking "German lager" when I say beer, you can think "German lager and the 100 plus other styles of beer".

    Germany brews the best lagers in the world, let's just put that on the table. I make the best meatloaf in the world. Neither one of us is in the running for best beer or food.
  24. stayclean

    stayclean Initiate (0) Mar 17, 2012 Wisconsin

    I like beers from Europe, and I like beers from America. Don't see the need for any chest beating American exceptionalism nonsense.
  25. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Sounds reasonable. Matter of fact, much of the time when I visit German breweries I simply order "ein Bier." If I'm at Mahr's Brau in Bamberg, however, I use the shortest sentence in the German language to order a half liter of their Ungespundetes Lager (locals refer to it simply as "U"), which is double decocted, generously hopped, aged in open vessels to allow CO2 to escape, and then served by gravity from a hand-hewn Franconian oak barrel into ceramic mugs: "a U."
    cavedave likes this.
  26. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,244) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Lager isn't just a simple style, it's a massive category of beer. Plus, I'm pretty sure the Czechs (maybe even the Austrians?) think they do a better job of making it, too.
  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,117) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “Germany brews the best lagers in the world, let's just put that on the table.” I agree that Germany produces very high quality lagers. Having stated that there are a number of US craft breweries which make high quality lagers as well.

    The results of the recent World Beer Cup awards (biased to discuss the US winners):

    · Vienna Style Lager: Devil’s Backbone – Gold, Heavy Seas – Silver
    · German-Style Marzen: Florshen (Colorado) – Gold, Rock Bottom – Silver
    · German-Style Schwartzbier: Art of Science (Colorado) – Gold, Stevens Point Brewery – Silver
    · Traditional German-Style Bock: Silver City Brewery – Silver, Troegs – Bronze
    · German-Style Heller Bock/Maibock: Blind Tiger Brewery – Gold, Capital – Bronze
    · German-Style Doppelbock: Sun King – Bronze

    For other German styles (non-lagers):

    · German-Style Kolsch: Four Peaks – Gold, Chuckanut – Silver, Stevens Point – Bronze
    · German-Style Brown (Alt): Hops & Grain – Gold, Vintage Brewing – Silver, Mammoth Lakes – Bronze
    · German-Style Pale Wheat: Boscos: Gold
    · South German-Style Weizenbock: Live Oak – Silver
    · German-Style Sour: Steamworks – Gold, The Bruery – Silver, Outer Banks – Bronze

    I certainly am not representing that the World Beer Cup is the ‘end all and be all’ of defining the “best” beers but I think it is a well-run competition and the above results indicate that US craft breweries can indeed produce high quality German style beers (both lagers and non-lagers).

    cavedave likes this.
  28. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,291) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Czechs? Austrians? Blasphemy
    Sounds delicious. Good thing there are so many other beers available for an ale lover like me for the 99% of the time I'm not in the mood for that type of beer. I wouldn't drink anyplace that all I had to say was "a beer" and they would know what I want. In fact I wouldn't drink anyplace that had the same list of beers they had last time I was there.
    Apparently I stand corrected about giving Germany a nod for brewing a few styles best. Looks like we compete pretty well! Not surprisingly, however.
  29. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    And don't forget Pepsi's big win over Coke in the Pepsi Challenge!
    steveh likes this.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,117) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Permit me to comment on a few topics mentioned in your post.

    I personally try to avoid using the word “best” in my beer appreciation posts. Stating that ‘such and such’ beer is the “best” is very subjective. I try to be a bit more ‘broad minded’ and state things like:

    · Germany breweries make high quality lagers
    · US craft breweries make high quality German-style lagers

    I understand why some BAs are of the opinion that only German breweries can properly make German lagers. Personally I do not share that view; I think that US craft breweries are fully capable of making high quality German style lagers.

    There was mention of Mahr’s Ungespundet-hefetrüb Lager. I have had this beer many times albeit imported to the US. I have had this beer primarily on tap (both regular draft and on cask) but I have had it in bottles a couple of times. It is indeed a high quality Keller beer. I have also had the pleasure of drinking US craft brewed Keller beers: Southampton Keller Beer and Triumph Aldstadt. In my humble opinion these US craft brewed Keller beers are the equal of the Mahr’s Ungespundet-hefetrüb beer and for my palate the Triumph Aldstadt Lager is the preferred beer.

  31. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,117) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    How can I forget, you won’t let me!:wink:

  32. Cyrano41

    Cyrano41 Disciple (325) Aug 7, 2009 Virginia

    3 or 4 months ago I was convinced that american craft had surpassed the european beers. I never really liked the weak american lagers, but the imports like Bass and Newcastle brown ale caught my attention. I've traveled a bit and found numerous beers over the pond that I enjoyed and used to benchmark against american offerings. I slowly realised that my benchmarks had shifted; Ommegang, Legend, Victory, Otter Creek, North Coast, DFH, Bells ect..... then I revisted the local beir garden. Weinestaphaner, Franzikaner, Ayinger, Schenider Weisee, Hacker-pschorr..I'm salivating just thinking about it!
    Americans are making some great beer, no doubt, but for certain styles they have it perfected!
  33. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    You would if you lived in Germany! In fact, my favorite pub here so far (Zum Uerige) has only two beers, their Alt and their Wheat. You don't even have to say "a U", you just have to give them a "one" sign (with your thumb) and a semi-nod and they'll bring you an Alt. And they keep it coming until you say Stop. It's an awesome pub.
  34. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    I think I'm gaining some good insight into your screen name. :wink:
  35. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,291) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Perhaps you would also like a few of ours as well. Rattle N Hum, for instance, is a small place, friendly folks, a constant change of tap handles, but the one thing the handles have in common is fantastic quality, and never a need to be bored by drinking the same beer as yesterday.

    Perhaps you, who seems to be comforted by sticking with a couple of fantastic representations of favorite styles, would not like it. Perhaps the same is true for me were I to do what you enjoy.
  36. Cyrano41

    Cyrano41 Disciple (325) Aug 7, 2009 Virginia

    I wish I had contacted you before my last trip to the UK! I was sooo excited to try all the beer I couldn't get here in the US! (this was 7 years ago - before I discovered BA) I remained excited when I walked into pub after pub with rows of unfamiliar taps! Most of them left me disappointed. I found I liked hard cider on tap and really only one or two of the beers I'd not had before. This was in England, for some reason Scotland was kinder to me.
  37. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    I'm an American, I know where you're coming from and it took me some time to adjust to being over here. I do miss IPA's every once in a while and the type places you are talking about (although truly, folks don't get any friendlier than the locals in some of these German pubs), but I guess my point is I was surprised by how much I thoroughly enjoy some of these places, and I think you might be too. You said earlier you were thinking about a trip to the UK/Germany? This is my way of getting you mentally prepared for the Germany part. :wink:
    cavedave likes this.
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,117) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Another very good US craft brewed Keller beer: Brooklyn Gold Standard Export Kellerbier.

  39. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,244) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Nice to read about some good US Kellerbiers. I don't have (easy) access to either, but it's nice to know that there are some good ones around.
    Even my local favorite Prost doesn't really have a regular kellerbier although they've had occasionally served a couple of their normal beers unfiltered with natural carbonation.
    Anyone else know of some good ones? Mahr's U shows up on the shelves out here once in a blue moon, but it's a far cry from fresh.
  40. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Good stuff, but at $18.99 for a single growler, I plan to enjoy some of that next when I win the lottery. Looks like we're in competition for the Power Ball, Jack!
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