Styles that American brewers just haven't nailed

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

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  1. Treb0R

    Treb0R Aspirant (232) Dec 12, 2012 Oregon

    Of those three, I've had Brewdog Punk. Far from amazing, and not something I would purchase more than once. Pure Maris Otter base, with only 45 IBUs, Nelson hops on the forefront, and British yeast. Deserving of a 78 out of 100 perhaps. But not something I would compare with a top rated American IPA.

    Read some reviews about Thornbridge just now. Despite the 88 out of 100 rating, a lot of people were saying that in addition to it being tropical, it's also quite grassy, earthy, and balanced. Sounds like a New Zealand IPA to me. Not too typical for American IPAs and not my cup of tea either. Couldn't find Kernal IPA.
  2. BradtheGreat7

    BradtheGreat7 Defender (621) Jul 22, 2011 Ohio

    I'm just going to make a quick point before I give an opinion on what American breweries don't do right. Simply putting this out there that the best of American brewers are the best in the world. American breweries like FFF, Founders, Russian River, and many others produce the quality of beer to compete with anyone on the planet and win most of the time. Right now, most of the best beer in the world is crafted in the united states. I look at Belgium and I see about 20 breweries I buy or would buy given the availability. In regards to German beer there are 6-7 breweries I'd buy from. England has 4-5. Scotland has 3-4. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have a few. Canada has a couple, but when talking American craft beer there are 50 plus, and that's just off the top of my head. There really isn't anything the best of American brewers do wrong. Their quality and success should be appreciated by other countries given the fact our craft beer movement has opened up a lot of these countries into bigger things just in this country alone. The point is we are all in this craft beer world together and there is no need for rivalries. Let's all appreciate one another's styles and get to the real point of making great beer.

    However, a style the best of American beer havent yet mastered and maybe never will are styles like the Belgian gueze and stuff like fruit lambics. I would say abbey style ales like the dubbel, tripel and strong dark ale, but the truth is there are good American beers in these styles. Ommegang makes a fine dubbel and stone just released the 12.12.12 vertical epic which may be the best Noel style dark ale I've had from any American brewery. We do things as good as anyone. No one can argue that.
    acevenom and OneDropSoup like this.
  3. Gotti311

    Gotti311 Crusader (779) Mar 22, 2009 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Yeah this is interesting to consider. I never thought about that.
  4. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    I just got off the phone with a gentleman who sounded remarkably like Jonas and I was inspired.

    Gonna go pawn some bikes and space heaters in a bit.
  5. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    You inspired me.
  6. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,162) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    I used to think the same thing, that the Euro originals were way better than American craft attempts to replicate. But after I really got into sampling deeper into the craft US beers, I realized most every style there are a few excellent replications we've been able to equal. As others stated Unibroue's (in particular La Fin Du Monde) is an excellent Belgian style beer IMO. I do agree that we seem to miss alot of times on the UK styles, or actually not many craft brewers here in US seem to bother making many of those UK styles. I guess its just not en-vogue at the moment.
  7. BKBassist

    BKBassist Devotee (439) Jan 24, 2013 New York

    The idea of jazz was brought up before. I think it's very appropriate. The US doesn't have much that it can lay claim to inventing outright (at least in terms of art\music\food) due to our young nature as a culture. What we do best is to take our diverse influences (more diverse than basically any other country in the world) and put a unique spin on it. Why should beer\brewing be any different?

    In other news, Americans haven't put out a whole lot of great Klezmer or Soca or Reggae albums recently. But we're more than happy to adapt these styles into our own stuff and make good tunes.
    Giovannilucano likes this.
  8. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,015) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Hell -- not you too now! :astonished: :wink:
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Dude, your mind operates on a totally different level!

    I mean that in a good way (I think).

    Keep up the ‘good’ work!:slight_smile:

  10. PatriotsRule

    PatriotsRule Aspirant (257) Sep 25, 2012 Massachusetts

    Jack's Abby makes a great Dunkles Dopplebock called Saxonator. super malty and delectable!
  11. Gassygunslinger

    Gassygunslinger Initiate (23) Dec 20, 2012 Maine

    Can Europeans replicate a Steam Beer (California Common)?
  12. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    All the talk of hefeweizens made me pull out that picture.

    Its a thing of beauty, aint it?
  13. litheum94

    litheum94 Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2008 California

    You summed up exactly how I feel. It's just not a hefeweizen if it uses a different yeast.
  14. BILF

    BILF Initiate (0) Jan 9, 2010 Israel

    American Adjunct Lager
    djsmith1174 and OneDropSoup like this.
  15. PoopChute69

    PoopChute69 Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2012 Poland

    So you believe that in 100 years, Europe will be unrecognizable because of the Italian mob?

    I don't think the mob would even agree with you on that one, kid.
    Giovannilucano likes this.
  16. Giovannilucano

    Giovannilucano Devotee (452) Feb 24, 2011 New Jersey

    I do and having family there to keep me updated helps. I know it is more of an observation rather then my true settlement.
  17. GFG

    GFG Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2012 North Dakota

    You've obviously never had anything from Schells in Minnesota. Those types of beers are their specialty (Minus the UK cask ale).
    They easily make some of the best german style lagers, czech pilsners, etc. in the United States. They're not talked about much on BA though because not many people on this site give a shit about those kinds of beers. A thread was recently started in the midwest region forum about this as well.
    pweis909 likes this.
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Good luck with your ‘argument’ to herrburgess that US breweries can make quality German style beers!

    pweis909 likes this.
  19. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,695) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Premium Member

    This is a great question, and also a slightly tricky question, at least for me. I was just thinking about how our perceptions of foreign beer styles can be limited. If you don't travel to the place of origin, you are not getting the best perspective. Our perceptions are skewed towards those that get imported. Of those, we mostly drink bottled versions of stuff that is best served on cask and old examples of stuff that is best consumed fresh, or possibly poorly cared for bottles of stuff that is best cellared and kept from the light. I suspect that the people who travel extensively in the UK and Germany will say that our verisons are not as good as what they find when they are abroad. Makes me want to travel more.
  20. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,695) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Premium Member

    I had herrburgess in mind with my comment above. But I really have enjoyed Schell's pilsner.
  21. eric5bellies

    eric5bellies Meyvn (1,394) Jun 9, 2006 Australia

    I guess by "nailed" you mean replicate ?

    Flanders Oud Bruin
    Belgian IPA
    Champange Beer
    Berliner Weissbier
  22. StoutOne

    StoutOne Initiate (0) Jan 16, 2009 New York

    I totally agree with this point. I have yet to have an American Weiss beer that holds a candle to the Germans
  23. brureview

    brureview Meyvn (1,370) Jan 20, 2012 Massachusetts

    Jack's Abby also brews an excellent Doppelbock- the Saxonator.
  24. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2005 Germany

    And those are hardly considered top of the line here in Bayern...
    hopfenunmaltz likes this.
  25. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,043) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Permit me to tell a story... :wink:

    Before anyone books their flight to Hamburg in search of the numerous fresh local versions of hoppy Northern German pilsners like Jever, I have some news for them...they're not going to find ANY. Even now, Jever is an anomaly among German beers, and it is BY FAR the hoppiest pils on the market there.

    Any claims, therefore, that U.S. beers such as Prima Pils have "nailed" the Northern German pils are specious at best. It's a bit like saying Mikkeller "nailed" the U.S. DIPA with its 1000 IBU because it approximates the hoppiest U.S.-brewed beer of that vast style.

    It's fine to be opinionated on matters such as these (believe me, I know!), but it's better to be informed as well.
    steveh likes this.
  26. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Jever ain't what it used to be. A local brewery owner went to school in Germany 20+ years ago, and also says it has lost a lot since then. If the guys from Victory targeted the beer they had when in school in Germany, what's the problem? You can run into old references where Jever is said to be 49 or 50 IBUs. Not anymore, maybe high 30s.

    If I make a Berliner Weisse and just have lactic, is that the way becasue that is Kindl Weisse? I remember drinking Schultheiss back in the day that also had Brett going on. Should I get dinged for making a beer that was made, but is no longer in production?

    Just saying things change, and beers change.
  27. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,043) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    No problem at all. My point -- and the OP's as well -- was about beer styles, not individual examples. Jever is neither representative of the Northern German pilsner style in its old incarnation nor in its new one. Despite what the BJCP Guidelines might say, Jever was, and is, an anomaly among German beers, and any attempt to approximate it (much less "nail the style"), regardless if it's 50 IBUs or 30, is going to be an anomaly among the German Pilsner style as well.
  28. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,043) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader other words, there's a lot more involved in "nailing" a style -- or even a single exemplar of a style -- than approximating its most anomalous aspects.
  29. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Haven't had a Flensburger in about 4 years, those used to be pretty assertive also. There was one I had while on my only trip to Berlin, which was also very assertive - wish I could remember that one.
  30. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,043) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Like Jever, Flensburger has fallen off in recent years. There is a beer called Dithmarschen Pilsner that's probably a good representative of what Flensburger used to taste like (and a solid representation of the Northern German Pils style), but even it has nothing close to the bitterness of a Jever.
  31. daviddoughan

    daviddoughan Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2012 New York

    Ommegang Three Philosophers and Allagash Four are both Quads I like.
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Ah, a spirited discussion on German Pilsners!

    Firstly, permit me to opine that there are two issues that can often get conflated: geography and time.

    Geography: Northern Germany historically and present day would brew Pilsners that are more hoppy than the Pilsners of Southern Germany.

    Time: Not too long ago (in other words within the timeframe of my lifetime), the Pilsners in Germany were much more hoppy then they are today. Even the Pilsners of Southern Germany were hoppy 30 years ago.

    Below is something I wrote in a beermail to Aaron (BA yemenmocha):

    “On the topic of hoppiness in a German Pilsner there seems to be a few ‘vocal’ folks on BA who have strong opinions that US craft breweries do not know how to properly brew German style Pilsners. They proclaim that the US Pilsners are too hoppy and the US brewers don’t know what they are doing. Well, there has been a marked trend in Germany over the past 30-40 years to use less and less hops in brewing Pilsners. This trend is documented in The Oxford Companion to Beer: In 1973 the average German Pilsner have a bitterness of 34 IBUs, in 2008 the average bitterness was 26.5 IBUs. I don’t know what the average would be 2012 but I am confident that it is even lower than 26 IBUs.

    From the book: “In the style guidelines for the prestigious World Beer Cup competition, German Pilsner is still defined as having 30-40 IBUs, but the German brewers themselves have allowed the snappy hop character of pilsner to erode.”

    How is this for ‘irony’, Victory Prima Pils was based upon the two owners of the brewery (Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski) experiences in Germany. They both trained in Germany to learn how to brew. They decided when they opened Victory Brewer in 1996 to make a ‘traditional’ German Pilsner like they drank in Germany. Well, if you go to Germany today you will likely find 20 IBU Pilsners while Victory is brewing Pilsners like Ron and Bill drank ‘back in the day’. It sort of makes you wonder what the word “traditional” means in the context of German Pilsners.”

    In a reply I made in another (related) thread I purposely used the word “consistent” in: “Prima Pils is hopped at a level consistent with Northern German Pilsners.” In reality, Prima Pils is based upon a Southern German Pilsner circa 1980s:

    “Owner Ron Barchet began the evening from the head table presenting the history of Victory’s brewing with a visual overhead slideshow. The brewery’s roots can be traced back to Barchet’s time spent in the Tettnang region working and learning about German beer brewing. In fact, it was a taste of Waldhaus Pils that first led him down the road of exploration and yearning to know more about the process of brewing what became his favorite beer.”

    So, there you have it. Prima Pils is a ‘traditional’ Southern German Pilsner similar to Waldhaus Pils as brewed 30 years ago.

    I do like me some ‘traditional’ German Pilsners!:slight_smile:


    P.S. The continuing ‘dumbing down’ of Jever from a hops perspective is sad state of affairs in my opinion. I started drinking Jever about 8-10 years ago and even other those years the beer has been a ‘diminishing’ beer.:slight_frown:
  33. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I am feeling the pull of Germany again... need to get back.

    The Classic American Pilsners that I first tasted from Jeff Renner instantly tranported me back to being a tyke and stealing sips off of beers my dad had (probably Drewrys and other smaller brands). The flavor memory was identical in the far recesses of my reptilain brain. Of course these beers are not made commercially today in the US, except for the occasional one here and there. The better ones are probably about 3 times as bitter as a BMC premium beer and have more flavor and aroma hops. I fear the German brewers have started down the same road.
  34. raoulduke37

    raoulduke37 Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    Saisons. Seriously, what's with the high IBU's? Except for Logsdon, of course. He's the man.
  35. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,015) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    It's called Dampfbier, Maisel's makes one (even though BA labels it an Alt), and it was good when last available here in the U.S.

    Looks like Zwiesel makes it too.
  36. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,015) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    From page 3 of this thread -- in case you're thinking of "American Pale Wheat Ale," as opposed to Bavarian Hefeweizen. If you are referring to a good Bavarian-style Hefeweizen, look no further than Sierra Nevada.
  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    “I fear the German brewers have started down the same road.”

    Jeff, I have that same fear! It has been a while (9 months?) since I bought a six-pack of Jever. Last spring I was able to find a Jever that was only a couple of months old. I thought: Woo-Hoo! A fresh Jever!! I have never been able to find a Jever that was less than 5-6 months old before. As I drank those beers I was disappointed; they tasted like a ‘ghost’ of how they used to taste. I now see Jever on the shelf and think: what a shame, only a few years ago that was a vibrant Pilsner. Instead of buying Jever I pick up a six-pack of Sly Fox Pikeland Pils (or a Victory Prima Pils, Troegs Sunshine Pils, Stoudt’s Pils, etc.).It seems weird to me that in order to buy a ‘traditional’ Pilsner (a beer like they made in Southern Germany 30-40 years ago or Northern Germany just a few years ago) I need to purchase a US craft brewery’s version of a German Pilsner.



    P.S. Needless to say but I am a big fan of CAP beers. I have one batch in the lagering chamber and another fermenting.
  38. kwakwhore

    kwakwhore Zealot (521) Nov 1, 2004 North Carolina

  39. kegster

    kegster Initiate (0) Dec 5, 2005 California

    Rauch Beer. I have not had anything that comes close to Schenkerla.
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Sly Fox makes a very good Rauchbier. Unfortunately it is a draft only product and Sly Fox has limited distribution (PA, NJ, and NY).


    P.S. Iron Hill Brewpub (multiple locations in PA and DE) also makes a very good Rauchbier.
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