Styles that American brewers just haven't nailed

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by OneDropSoup, Feb 7, 2013.

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  1. stupac2

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

  2. gstenzel

    gstenzel Initiate (7) Aug 4, 2005 Illinois

    other than Sierra Nevada with their Kellerweiss, and New Glarus with their hefeweizen's...not much to choose from in the States...
  3. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    Weissbier, I have yet to try an american version which was good. In fact i never liked it, untill I had the german version.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  4. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (3,832) Nov 16, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader


    Just a couple are close to being as good as I had it in Germany. I particularly liked NG Dancing Man.
  5. ElGallo

    ElGallo Champion (812) Sep 26, 2009 New Hampshire

    How about chili beers. Maybe they'll stop brewing them and we can all go home happy.
    GeoffreyM likes this.
  6. --Dom--

    --Dom-- Disciple (305) Dec 22, 2012 Missouri

    Pretty much any american take on a belgian. There are a few good ones, but not many. I've had a lot of american dubbels and tripels that either did or were close to making it down the drain.
  7. BostonBrewins

    BostonBrewins Disciple (329) Jul 26, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I'd say this list pretty much sums it up.
  8. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (627) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Dark Mild, Light Mild, Burton, Ordinary Bitter, Best Bitter, authentic IPA, Dutch-style Oud Bruin, Herfstbok, 60/-, 70/-, 80/-, Scotch Ale, Scottish Sweet Stout, Alt, K├Âlsch, Berliner Weisse, Gose, Franconian Dunkles, Munich Dunkles, Helles, Kellerbier, Deutsches Porter and just abouit every Czech style. Then there are Belgian styles. I can't be bothered to list them all individually.
    fx20736, grantcty, jmw and 4 others like this.
  9. kingofhop

    kingofhop Initiate (0) May 9, 2010 Oklahoma

    I love Chevrolets, Zippos and Harleys. I'm as American as they come. But honestly, we have a ways to go, to match the quality and craftmanship that Europeans have perfected over centuries of brewing lagers and ales. We gettin' close, but not quite yet no cigar. We've perfected the West Coast IPA, but is that the true IPA? or a knockoff? It's rather arrogant to think we are on par with generations that have come before us. Just being honest. Yeah we're gettin' there, but we ain't there yet.
    spartan1979 and BedetheVenerable like this.
  10. sprucetip

    sprucetip Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2007 Alaska

    allagash four
  11. ehsteve

    ehsteve Initiate (77) Jan 13, 2009 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I'd put Live Oak Hefeweizen up against absolutely any German hefeweizen (and it absolutely kills Kellerweiss), but you're right that most American breweries screw this one up horribly. I suspect we have a lower "batting average" for beers that claim to be hefeweizens than for any other style.
  12. xanok

    xanok Disciple (369) Aug 13, 2009 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Closest I've had is Boulevard Sixth Glass. Damn tasty, but again, not as good as Belgian quads.
    djsmith1174 likes this.
  13. tdizzlegrizzle

    tdizzlegrizzle Initiate (147) Nov 3, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Agreed on Victory's St. Victorious Doppelbock. Best American Doppelbock I have had. Unfortunately, it has not been bottled the last two years (usually a winter release I believe). Really hoping they bring it back.

    The Troeganator is also a good American made doppelbock and offered year round. Other than those haven't found any I really like.
  14. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,971) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    While I agree with your post, and the term "nailed" tends to insinuate it's being done all over the nation, there are a couple breweries around hitting these styles pretty well -- albeit, in short distribution.
  15. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,971) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Indeed, one of the few -- let's hope they can keep the tradition without Kirby. :slight_frown:
  16. Gassygunslinger

    Gassygunslinger Initiate (23) Dec 20, 2012 Maine

    I dunno. I guess I just don't see an enormous amount of merit in focusing your time and energy into replicating a style that already exists. The end goal should be to create something that's tasty. If it's slightly different than a pre-accepted style, who cares if it isn't exactly like something else? So long as they're both tasty, what's the big deal?

    While there is something to be said of time-tested styles, at what point are you simply over-emphasizing traditional for its own sake? Most styles were offshoots of other styles anyways. Afterall, we can appreciate an Irish dry stout for what it is, instead of simply criticizing it for not quite being a traditional English stout.
    RichardMNixon and ColinStClaire like this.
  17. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Meyvn (1,048) Dec 9, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I hear ya, but it just seems like a lot of American brewers continuously swing & wiff on certain styles - merit or not, it's still being attempted & frequently flubbed. Maybe they'll just stop making them after a while & the overall American beer culture will streamline itself & stick to doing what it does well.
  18. herrburgess

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

    The novelist/poet James Dickey (wrote Deliverance) used to teach writing at the local university here. His class covered two semesters: during the first, you had to learn to write poems in all of the classic styles/rhyme schemes; only during the second were you permitted to go "free style." I imagine this approach ended up reducing the number of "innovative" takes on, say, hillbilly rape scenes, by a good pecentage...and ultimately made his students into better, more careful writers.
    OneDropSoup likes this.
  19. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,971) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Simple, when the traditional is that much better than the modern. See Munich Helles.
  20. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (957) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    For the most part I agree that domestic brewers do not brew great quads, triples, and even pales. I cant even think of many breweries that do something like taras boulba. That would be incredible to get something like it in an affordable 6-pack. I havent had the Allagash house beer yet. Maybe I should finally cough up the money for that fancy wooden crate.
  21. Handle

    Handle Initiate (145) Mar 16, 2009 North Carolina

    I haven't had many great American-made Rauchbiers, though it's a fairly obscure style to begin with. And by Rauchbier here, I mean smoked lagers. I like August Schell's, and Caldera's Rauch Ur Bock is very good.

    I'm hoping The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery's Rauchbier, which they release today, will not disappoint.
    herrburgess likes this.
  22. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    Until craftbrewers realize they can't be all things to all drinkers at the highest level possible, stop being a jack of all trades kind of brewery, and concentrate on the things they do well, they aren't going to master much.
  23. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Meyvn (1,048) Dec 9, 2008 Pennsylvania

    The "innovation" in American brewing doesn't seem to me to be about hiding flaws or trying to compensate for shortcomings, but acknowledging differences & capitalizing on strengths. Look at all the European breweries emulating American styles now. I don't think it's because they feel they can pull one over on the consumer, but because they see those innovations have some appeal & validity, & are genuinely new & exciting in those classical beer cultures.
  24. Handle

    Handle Initiate (145) Mar 16, 2009 North Carolina

    It's said across many disciplines that you have to "know the rules before you can break them." I think that definitely applies to brewing.
    herrburgess and steveh like this.
  25. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,971) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    My BBQ sauce is red -- what the heck are you cooking up? :wink:

    Seriously, though, in using pizza as analogy for experimentation, one of my favorites is brewed... uh, cooked by Piece Brew Pub in Chicago (with white sauce); artichoke and bacon, in the New Haven style. Great alternative to traditional without getting too crazy.
  26. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,971) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Me too... HerrB? :wink:
    Handle likes this.
  27. dungledauf

    dungledauf Initiate (169) Nov 8, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I feel Munich Dunkels have not been made properly. Most have a creamy, rounded malt finish. This style needs to finish crisp with a slight burnt malt bite. Most breweries are probably boiling the mash to long. Plus this style needs to age at six weeks.
  28. Handle

    Handle Initiate (145) Mar 16, 2009 North Carolina

    Don't mean to keep shilling for The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, but their Dunkel is fantastic. It definitely has a slight roastiness to it. If you ever make it to Charlotte, make sure to give their beers a try.
    dungledauf likes this.
  29. revbdub5446

    revbdub5446 Initiate (0) Dec 18, 2009 Illinois

    Cant find a decent happoshu in america neither ....shit
  30. Highbrow

    Highbrow Devotee (473) Jan 7, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    wow. tough crowd, divas don't stand a chance. i think some are too caught up in their own rigid interpretation of "styles" & other obsessive terminology. it's bizarre reading : "beer X was fantastic, unfortunately i was forced to rate it lower than it actually performed, because it's listed as an octuple when really it tastes/appears like a nice quad ".:grimacing:

    brews that taste so far off they're offensive - sure i'd be critical. beers that don't fit into my interpretation of a specific term we've accepted as a "style" - doesn't land on my radar. there's acceptable & unacceptable. i couldn't give a fart if an American/German or Martian company can duplicate a Belgian "style". i buy a beer either to try & form my own opinion OR because through prior experience, i'm confident i like the beer, regardless of some Olympic beer judge's style guidelines.
    Rau71 likes this.
  31. herrburgess

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

    I'll be there. And I'll be sure to report back.
    Handle likes this.
  32. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Meyvn (1,048) Dec 9, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I agree with that to a point, but it's a modernist perspective on art, & we live in a post-modern world with different cultural contexts & paradigms. Maybe American brewers are not "breaking" the rules of traditional brewing, but creating their own culture organically, in a unique context, with some seedings from the past.
    Giovannilucano and Handle like this.
  33. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,971) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    While I agree that US brewers (for the most part) can't get the Munich Dunkel correct, most I've tasted have a roasted malt character to them -- not at all correct, and slight burnt malt bite is off for the Munich version of this style too (from BJCP: Burnt or bitter flavors from roasted malts are inappropriate,) -- though I know there are Dunkels outside Munich that are more Schwarzbier-like with some dark roasted malt to them.

    And you're probably spot-on about the lagering times being too short.

    That said, try Sprecher's Black Bavarian if it's available. It's a nice cross between a Dunkel and Schwarzbier you may enjoy.
    dungledauf likes this.
  34. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    I'll springboard off your pizza analogy and share my thoughts on this.

    Even though there are tens of thousands of restaurants making mediocre to sub-par pizza in the united states, you can also visit just about any medium to large city and find a handful of skilled artisans crafting top-notch pies that would go toe to toe with anything in Naples, and that's coming from a person who loves a good pizza and has sampled what the Italian dough tossers have to offer.

    The same with beer. It's a numbers game. Feel good about your discerning palate, seek out the brewers who get it, and disregard the rest.

    Edit: There's also an element of pride in taking something imported and putting your own stamp on it. Honestly, if I went to a pizzeria and the only options they had were napolitano and margherita, as it typically is with the old world places, I'd be a little disappointed.
    Auror, Giovannilucano and Pegli like this.
  35. Giovannilucano

    Giovannilucano Devotee (447) Feb 24, 2011 New Jersey

    The example I use in this instance in which you outlined can apply also to the Italian craft as well. Since Italy is not traditionally a beer making or drinking country, the approach of making beer is most of the time, re innovating the basics with Italian ingredients. This is one point I share as an Italian craft ambassador, as well as this is the weakness, too. Sometimes the focus of being bold so much, you forget the basics of crafting a traditional brew.

    One example of an Italian beer( Piccolo Birrificio Sessonette) taking a standard saison and using chinotto peel instead of lemon, shows how using a regional Italian ingredient keeps it bold and new while at the same time working so well as a saison.
  36. Giovannilucano

    Giovannilucano Devotee (447) Feb 24, 2011 New Jersey

    And believe it or not, I would understand that. And for me personally I would feel at home. But again this is the beauty of taking something and changing it according to your creativity. Nothing is limited or set in stone. It really is about balancing tradition and creativity in harmony.
    leedorham and Pegli like this.
  37. Gatch

    Gatch Meyvn (1,253) Nov 29, 2006 Massachusetts

    So what we're saying here is that American brewers can only really nail the big, bold, intense beers and miss on the beers that require finesse and patience? Just American ales, basically? Anything thrown into a barrel or excessive hop additions? It makes sense that American brewers do the "American" style well and have trouble with the European styles. Yeast, water, and other conditions are unique on each side of the pond, not to mention the methods required for certain styles like Gueuze, Lambics, and Saisons (any really great American Saisons out there, by the way? HF and maybe GF Saison Diego stand out to me...haven't had Boulevard's yet but I have a bottle of it).

    As far as lagers are concerned, there are some breweries that are doing them really well. Jack's Abby comes to mind. Their beers get me excited about drinking lager over in Germany one day.

    Also, I don't have a ton of drinking experience with Belgians but it seems Ommegang, Unibroue, and Dieu de Ciel execute these styles quite well.
    mattbk and Giovannilucano like this.
  38. litheum94

    litheum94 Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2008 California

    I brought this up in a thread a while ago, but I'm not a fan of American Hefeweizens.
  39. Pegli

    Pegli Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2006 Rhode Island

    Jack's Abby are making some innovative, tasty beers but the ones I've had have no resemblance to traditional German or Czech Lagers...
  40. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,245) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I think we can place the blame for failure to nail German styles squarely on the shoulders of German brewmasters and German brewing schools. If the brewers in America who trained there and with them are unable to get it right it is clearly the fault of their teachers and their education/ training. That also suggests that German styles as we know them will be dying out for lack of well trained/educated brewers in Germany a well.
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