Indigenous American styles

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by jmw, Apr 3, 2013.

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  1. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    Too often I read about American ingenuity and inventiveness in the brewing scene and I wonder just what people think is so different and special about brewing in the States. There seems to be some closed-minded chest thumping going on, recognizing the unheard-of concept of actually pouring large amounts of hops into a vat as a wondrous capability. When considering recognized styles only (yes, that means you can't count maple bacon caterpillar porters or anything infused with garlic mustard or mouse tits), name a truly native concept that American brewers have contributed to the beer world.

    I think California common/'steam' beer is about it!
    sfsean28 likes this.
  2. carteravebrew

    carteravebrew Zealot (509) Jan 21, 2010 Colorado

    Look here, this is America, and we speak American, so if you don't love America, you can get the hell out.

    Seriously though, I agree, California Common and Kentucky Common (don't see that one mentioned much, do ya?) are about the only ones I can think of besides the Americafied versions of classic styles.
  3. Herky21

    Herky21 Crusader (717) Aug 7, 2011 Iowa
    Beer Trader

  4. draheim

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

  5. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    American Adjunct Lager?

    What about DIPA and black/cascadian/whatever IPA?
    bifrost17 and DelMontiac like this.
  6. grumpy

    grumpy Disciple (368) May 24, 2005 Missouri

    Black IPA - assuming you regard it as something different than a hoppy Porter
    DelMontiac and kemoarps like this.
  7. Synergy87

    Synergy87 Initiate (0) Jan 21, 2012 Wisconsin

    DIPA are english, we just made an american version of the style, so that doesn't count.
    TastyAdventure likes this.
  8. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    DIPAs are? I know IPAs are, but was not aware the Doubles were
    sacrelicio and Beerandraiderfan like this.
  9. jgnovak

    jgnovak Initiate (121) Apr 21, 2012 New Jersey

    Pennsylvania Swankey.
    jRocco2021 and rauchfest like this.
  10. joeebbs

    joeebbs Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2009 Pennsylvania

    According to the BA styles the following are American:

    Black & Tan
    Chile Beer
    Cream Ale
    Pumpkin Ale
    Rye Beer
    sunkistxsudafed likes this.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I would suggest that beer styles which could historically be considered “indigenous” to America beyond the California Common/Steam beer are: Classic American Pilsner, Cream Ale, and Kentucky Common. I would also add American Adjunct Lager to that list.

    This topic has been discussed in the past and the crux of the issue is often how do you define innovation? For example, an American Pale Ale (APA) is distinctly different from an English Pale Ale since they utilize ‘new’ hops (American Aroma Hops like Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe, etc.). A BA from the UK would state that an APA is not a ‘unique’ beer; it is just a variation of an English Pale Ale. I personally do not agree with that argument, I view an APA to be a distinctly different beer style since those beers taste so different from an English Pale Ale.

    It will be interesting to see how many posts this thread gets!

    Below is the list of beers which are labeled as being American by the BeerAdvocate site:

    American Ales
    American Amber / Red Ale
    American Barleywine
    American Black Ale
    American Blonde Ale
    American Brown Ale
    American Dark Wheat Ale
    American Double / Imperial IPA
    American Double / Imperial Stout
    American IPA
    American Pale Ale (APA)
    American Pale Wheat Ale
    American Porter
    American Stout
    American Strong Ale
    American Wild Ale
    Black & Tan
    Chile Beer
    Cream Ale
    Pumpkin Ale
    Rye Beer

    American Lagers
    American Adjunct Lager
    American Amber / Red Lager
    American Double / Imperial Pilsner
    American Malt Liquor
    American Pale Lager
    California Common / Steam Beer
    Light Lager
    Low Alcohol Beer
    TongoRad, teraflx and jahbulon like this.
  12. crusian

    crusian Crusader (743) May 14, 2010 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    liquor barrel aging.
  13. franklinn

    franklinn Initiate (0) May 29, 2012 Vermont

    I'd argue strongly that american IPAs are a unique style from english IPAs. I'm sure you'd argue strongly against it. That's fine.
  14. Soonami

    Soonami Initiate (0) Jul 16, 2008 Pennsylvania

    100% not true. I don't think you buy a DIPA made in England. The style is distinctly American and many credit Vinnie Cilurzo (then at Blind Pig, now of Russian River Brewing Company) for popularizing the style and creating the standard, Pliny the Elder
  15. Etan

    Etan Initiate (0) Jul 11, 2011 Wisconsin

    DIPAs are simply strong, more heavily hopped IPAs. Not as much a unique style as a variation on a previously-existing style. Honestly, I don't think there are any American beers that don't have some essential roots in a non-American style (which isn't really a bad thing).
    beertunes and jmw like this.
  16. Synergy87

    Synergy87 Initiate (0) Jan 21, 2012 Wisconsin

    I had a brain fart, I was thinking Barleywine, my mistake.

    Then again DIPA is just an IPA with more hops and higher grain bill, so its an Imperial IPA which I'm sure the english brewed tons of when sending to troops in India, but I'm no history major, so I can't be 100% sure on that. Any beer nerds here to clarify?
  17. Ol_Johnny_Skippelwicky

    Ol_Johnny_Skippelwicky Aspirant (275) Feb 13, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Isn't the use of spruce tips attributed to Native Americans?
    fmccormi likes this.
  18. Dtapeski

    Dtapeski Initiate (36) Oct 26, 2012 Colorado

    Personally, I couldn't give a shit. We weren't around when most styles were conceived, we've just improved on a lot of them.
  19. keysburg

    keysburg Initiate (138) Mar 28, 2012 Massachusetts

    Ingenuity and inventiveness is about going outside the box, so you're probably missing the point if you stick to recognized styles.

    But closed-minded chest thumping is what we're all about. 'Murrica!
  20. Davepoolesque

    Davepoolesque Poo-Bah (2,733) Aug 25, 2012 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    OP, you can do the same thing with food and a bunch of other things. Since we're a country comprised of all immigrants, obviously we're not going to have as many "native" styles of beer here.
    Cee-Poe likes this.
  21. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (1,724) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Supporter Beer Trader

    You're probably just being sarcastic, but a lot of users of this site wouldn't agree with that statement. :wink:
  22. Cjames88

    Cjames88 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Umm I thought 'Merica invented beer? And the beer bong
  23. jahbulon

    jahbulon Initiate (0) Jan 25, 2013 New York

    Yea there's no doubt that most modern beers have their roots in classic 'old world' beers. But that is inevitable and its called evolution. You really have to owe it to America's grassroots capitalist fueled beer scene when it comes to raising the bar. And I mean really raising the bar!!! In case you're wondering I'm not the biggest capitalist or anything but I definitely think the American Craft Beer Scene is a great model of how consumers and manufacturers can maintain good relationships and change an entire sector of our economy. This is almost impossible in Canada (esp Ontario due to LCBO) due to insane restrictions and small business taxing. So my conclusion is you're looking at it wrong dude. The USA will be seen in the future as the beer revival godsend to the world!
  24. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,105) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    That's from south o' the border, that ain't 'merican!
  25. otispdriftwood

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

    So are you saying that beers brewed in the USA are simply knock-offs?
  26. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    No, I'm trying to figure out where all this 'innovation' is that I hear claimed as American.
  27. gory4d

    gory4d Defender (669) Apr 14, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    California common has its roots in the German dampfbier style. So cream ale is the only one I can think of, and even that's probably not too far away from a kolsch.

    Edit: Kentucky common may have a greater claim to being an original style - missed that one up above.
    TallSaint likes this.
  28. Kinsman

    Kinsman Champion (873) Aug 26, 2009 California

    Americans really haven't invented much at all for beer, we just invented the names for the styles.

    Black IPA? Hell no!
    To begin with, then, it is not customary to employ saline waters, or, in other words, if such water be employed the black beer produced is deficient in that roundness and fulness of palate taste that is considered so necessary a feature, while I can example this by referring to the black beer produced at Burton, which has been universally described as a mere black pale ale—i.e., though black in colour, its palate taste reminds one very strongly of the pale beers produced by Burton firms"
    Talking about black pale ale way back in 1888... damn!

    Double IPA? Yeah right... They may have been called strong ales, or IPA, or even Pale ale at the time but they were just as strong and hoppy as our modern versions. They occasionally even had American hops in them! They likely didn't taste anything like the piney or citrusy hop bombs we have now, but the use of newer hop varieties doesn't mean we invented these styles.
    kzoobrew and jmw like this.
  29. draheim

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

    Let's be realistic. Beer has been brewed for thousands of years, by just about every civilization on earth. Any real meaningful innovation happened a very, very long time ago. Anything claimed as an innovation today will be measured in very small increments relative to, say, lagering.

    This isn't to say innovation isn't still happening; just don't expect anything truly revolutionary.

    And speaking of indigenous American innovations in beer and lagering, some scientists now believe that the yeast used to make lager beers originally came from Patagonia (South America). So in a way, indigenous American yeast was instrumental in a genuine beer innovation. Cheers!
    5thOhio, jRocco2021, auhwfm and 2 others like this.
  30. zstef99

    zstef99 Initiate (41) Dec 25, 2008 New York

    I don't think innovation has to mean creating something completely unique. Modifying existing styles to create new ones can be innovative. For example, I'm guessing the difference between Pliny the Elder and a traditional English IPA is probably far greater than the difference between an English Pale Ale and an English Bitter.

    And as previous posts have suggested, America is a relatively young country made up of immigrants who all brought their own brewing traditions. I don't find it surprising that there aren't a bunch of wholly unique American beer styles.
    rlcoffey and MammaGoose like this.
  31. Frankinstiener

    Frankinstiener Initiate (0) Jul 28, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    The concept of the refrigerator was conceived in Europe but it was American inventors who created the first practical refrigerators. Not only did Americans invent practical mechanical refrigeration but American brewers were the first to utilize it. Refrigeration allowed brewers to make consistent product year round. It was also much more sanitary because poor sanitation and sewage impacted ice harvesting at the time. Refrigeration has had a huge impact on the cost, quality, transportation, and longevity of beer. Americans were the first to use an automatic bottling line. Americans were also the first to can beer and develop cans that successfully hold beer.
  32. Jomega80

    Jomega80 Initiate (127) May 26, 2012 Ohio

    Why be worried about who invented a style? I'm pretty sure Apple didn't invent the cell phone or portable audio, but it can be argued that through American creativity they mastered it!
  33. Frankinstiener

    Frankinstiener Initiate (0) Jul 28, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I would say these are probably the most important contributions to brewing in the last 150 or so years and its all do to American innovation.
  34. BeerGuyEsquire

    BeerGuyEsquire Initiate (0) Dec 18, 2012 Minnesota

    We have to have been the inventor of "shotgunning" beer, which really is the only way to drink cheap american piss beer.
  35. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Inventing is one thing to be admired. Innovation too.

    But its always the ones who advance, produce, (exploit?) and perfect things that get the money, power and fine women.

    Cool, you invented the wheel. But I'd rather be the owner of Michelin Tires.
    victory4me, cnbrown313 and drtth like this.
  36. IllinoisJoe

    IllinoisJoe Initiate (0) Mar 4, 2013 Illinois

    The guitar and all its chord variations existed long before Jimi Hendrix picked up an ax, but it was how he used these tools that produced something truly unique. That's kind of how I view American brewing at its best: the idea of taking something that already existed and putting our unique spin on it...or in the case of some DIPAs, just cranking it up to 11.

    That being said, I'm no xenophobe or chest-thumper; I'll gladly try different beers from all over the world.
    sfsean28 likes this.
  37. mmmbirra

    mmmbirra Aspirant (206) Apr 19, 2009 Italy

    Pumpkin beer. Pumpkins come from 'merica if i'm not mistaken, so that's probably a hard one to argue against.
    palmdalethriller likes this.
  38. otispdriftwood

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

    Good luck figuring that one out. I'll give you a start - It's the same as alot of things. Someone in the U.S.A. tweaks an existing product, calls it new and improved, slaps a new label on it and gets the marketing department involved and Voila! it's uniquely American.
    rauchfest likes this.
  39. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    This one says it right on the can! And it's a great beer.

    But seriously, I can't think of a style that hasn't already been mentioned above. However...I do think that American craft brewers contribute plenty to the world of beer.
  40. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Crusader (791) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    One of the best selling styles on Earth is an "Indigenous American Style", light /lite beer.
    sfsean28 likes this.
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