Whatever happened to the imports?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Reidrover, Jul 18, 2020.

  1. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,656) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Do any of your local craft breweries produce those "old styles"? Or is it a case of mostly hoppy beers, stouts with stuff in them, etc.?

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  2. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,078) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Hell, I've seen beers with "Best before" dates in brand new stores that still smell of wet paint and carpet adhesive where the date is earlier than the day the construction crew broke ground for the new building. The distributor gonna bring what they got (and, I suspect, will often load up a new retail location with a lot of dogs that are taking up space as partial pallets in their warehouse).
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  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,656) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I unfortunately see this crap in spade at my 'local' Total Wine & More in Claymont, DE. Total Wine demands that the wholesale distributors provide the free labor to stock the shelves and based upon my observations the Wholesale Distributors 'take advantage' of this situation to empty their old product on Total Wine & More. The old saying of "there is no such thing as a free lunch" comes to mind.

  4. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,078) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Well, if there is such a thing as a free lunch, always check to make sure the expiration date isn't from last month.:grimacing:
  5. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Poo-Bah (1,573) Jul 27, 2013 California
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    There’s no question that there are some excellent foreign beers being made, but 99% of what I drink is local, and fresh. It’s a great time to be alive if you’re a beer advocate.

    And I’m an advocate for beer tourism, or at least seeking out locals when traveling for business. Having a hand pulled pint of real ale in London, a maß of Augustiner in Munich, or a fantastic Trappist in Belgium....those are my best memories....doesn’t compare to pulling it off a dusty shelf of my local Total Wine or bottle shop!
    #45 TrojanRB, Jul 18, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
  6. mambossa

    mambossa Aspirant (241) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    There’s pretty limited shelf space for beer in my store. From what I order, half of the cooler is local craft, and the majority of the other half I try to bring in my favorite imports you don’t see very often. Köstritzer, Rothaus Pils, Straffe Hendrik, along with your more common German and Belgian beers. Because of so many new local beers coming out, the section for wide-distro American craft is only a couple feet wide. No one really complains though.
  7. YamBag

    YamBag Initiate (182) Feb 2, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I do not and agree the prices are a little steep, but at least it's better than year plus old beer
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  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,656) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    My choice here is to drink fresh, local, high quality beers at reasonable prices.

    We all get to choose here.

  9. MikefromDormont

    MikefromDormont Initiate (118) Dec 11, 2004 Pennsylvania

    Same thing here in Pittsburgh. Being a real geek, I maintain an Excel spreadsheet listing the various beers I have sampled since I started my craft beer journey back in 1995. Back in the 1990s, imports made up a much larger percentage of the beers I drank. I study the spreadsheet and am amazed at all the Belgian, English and German beers that I once sampled, but most likely will never be able to get now.

    Thinking about this, there is a four pack of Ayinger Celebrator down in my local grocery store that has been calling my name. Next time I visit there I plan on buying it.
  10. meefmoff

    meefmoff Devotee (473) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    If you were inclined to comb through that Excel file and present some sort of summary/chart about how options have changed for you since 1995 I would happily donate to whatever GoFundMe page you set up!

    Seriously, that Excel file sounds like a goldmine of interesting info. Memories are generally shit. Spreadsheets are forever :slight_smile:
  11. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Devotee (490) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Would love to get some Beamish here in the states. Enjoyed that and Murphy’s over Guinness while in Ireland since the were both cheaper - Beamish was about half the cost of Guinness for a pint.
  12. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,826) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    When you see a German brand you enjoy, and look at the best by date, and see that it a year past that you smile and put it back. That beer was two years old.
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  13. Insomniac

    Insomniac Initiate (180) Nov 5, 2019 Canada

    This has been a creeping trend in the Ontario market for more than a decade. What was once a wide variety of Czech/German/U.K. beers has dwindled to a standard few. That shelf space is now largely occupied by provincial brewers, which may help the regional industry/economy but has squeezed out some classic European beers. Also, I suspect, but have no direct stats/evidence, that Covid 19 may have exacerbated this situation.
  14. MikefromDormont

    MikefromDormont Initiate (118) Dec 11, 2004 Pennsylvania

    Yep. Back in the day my beer sampling group drank a lot of Beamish from the nitro can. We liked it better than the equivalent Guinness or Murphys nitro stouts.
  15. jkrich

    jkrich Meyvn (1,270) Nov 1, 2001 Florida

    I miss the days when I could easily find Samuel Smith and Fuller's ales in 6-packs; both transitioned to 4-packs and slowly disappeared from the shelves. Also, until recently I could find Spaten lager on the shelves, but it too has disappeared.
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  16. MikefromDormont

    MikefromDormont Initiate (118) Dec 11, 2004 Pennsylvania

    I liked the Spaten Optimator which was a low cost substitute for Ayinger Celebrator.
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  17. Reidrover

    Reidrover Poo-Bah (3,881) Jan 14, 2003 Oregon

    I liked Optimator better
  18. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (1,940) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    Yes on the Samuel Smith and Fuller's, and I'd add Young's to that list. I'm not sure what Young's currently bottles, but in the mid- to late 1990s you could find 4- or 6-packs of Young's London Special and Ram Rod and both were fantastic English pale ales.

    I wouldn't trade the American craft beer movement for anything. It's amazing, faults, flaws and all. But it does suck that it's hard to find a good pint of bitter here in the states, whether it's at a brewery, bar, pub, restaurant or bottled/canned at a retail store.
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  19. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (554) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Yes, it's better than year old beer, but you pay for that.

    I don't know if you've visited their NYS on-line store (https://bunitedint-ny.square.site/shop/2). They've been having a rotating selection, but other than the $5 cans & bottles of Schlenkerla I can get comparable American beers for much less. Einbecker is good, but not $4/can good and Schlenkerla's not quite the bargain when you figure in a minimum order of 12 bottles and $12 shipping.
    I won't ask my beer store to special order through them since, apparently, I'm the only customer who made repeat purchases from the order of 24 Schlenkerla I initiated last year, 10 months later and 8 of those bottles are still on the shelf.
  20. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,078) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Young's as a brewery is history (still exists as a hotel & pub chain). Merged with Wells, the "Ram brewery" closed, then sold out entirely to Wells, which then sold out to Marston's. On the Marston's "Breweries and Beers" page, they don't even list the Young's beers by name.

    Their US importer, St. Killian's, only lists Young’s Double Chocolate Stout being available in the US.
  21. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (1,940) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    Right. I've researched that at least five times but always forget about the merger. Thanks for the info!

    I visited a couple Young's Pubs in London in 2018. I don't remember the names of all of the beers I tried, but this one was the first at the Duke of Wellington on Portobello Road:


    "Young's Special" made by Eagle Brewery, which appears to be a descendant of the Wells portion of the merger. Here's a couple of pints of something at the Porchester Pub ... don't remember the name of the beer but it was definitely under 4.0% ABV, on cask and very good:
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  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,078) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah, I know what you mean. I find myself often forgetting the ending of the saddest stories.
    RIP - Young's.
    (One of those brands you think back on and say "Damn, why didn't I drink more of that when it was around...".)
  23. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,204) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    To echo Mr. Kidden, they don't bottle anything. And just in terms of the beer brand, I'm kind of assuming it's more or less dead in the hands of Marston's (for the time being). The Young's pubs section in the link in @jesskidden 's post show pics of branded Young's pump clips - I have no idea if that's still a thing currently (the pics predate the recent Marston's purchase), and if it is, where the beer is brewed. Any ideas?

    To add to the conversation, you could say that Young's lived on with John Hatch (as opposed to with Wells). He was their master brewer and he operated a tiny brewery (the Phoenix... get it?) at the site of the Ram in order to maintain the location's historic status as a site with continuous brewing. Things are changing though. The location of the former Ram brewery is now being developed as a retail and apartment complex - the "Ram Quarter". A brewery will be part of it though - Sambrook's (the oldest independent London brewer... dating back to the ancient year of 2008... ouch!). It will also have a brewing museum (with focus on Young's). You get the sense that Sambrook's is taking this "inheritance" with an understanding of the weight involved... but of course, it isn't Young's.

    So where will that leave Hatch? His unusual role at the location was just to keep the torch lit. If Sambrook's is moving in, then there's no longer a need for Hatch to brew. I saw this statement in an article: "John will eventually move to the new museum, which he will run alongside tours for visitors." Not sure what that means exactly. I have the feeling that it's all one big step closer to Young's becoming a pure museum piece. I hope Hatch continues to actually brew. Sambrook's was supposed to open there about now... but, um... stuff happens. Maybe they've opened. I have no idea.
  24. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (1,940) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    During my research, I found a hotel/pub built on one of the sites of the "original five Young breweries" ... not sure what that means, but it seemed cool enough to investigate when planning my 2018 trip.


    I didn't visit that place. I opted to tour the Fuller's Griffin Brewery instead, which was fantastic.

    At least some of that beer is brewed here:


    The old Ram brewery story is interesting. Hopefully John Hatch finds a way to keep brewing. Thanks for the info!
  25. tasterschoice62

    tasterschoice62 Poo-Bah (1,839) May 14, 2014 Rhode Island
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    Carta Blanca is a really good Mexican beer that gets overlooked.
  26. Grounder

    Grounder Initiate (71) Jun 20, 2019 Illinois

    It's a damn shame, because they in general they do traditional styles better, and do it at half the price.
  27. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,162) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Beamish actually did make it to the States for a little short while, in certain markets at least...but then Carlsberg USA basically pulled the plug.

    One of their reps bought me a pint as a promo at my favorite Irish bar (Flann O'Brien's, Boston) when I was freshly 21 (2007). It was really delicious, I remember it finishing much drier than Guinness or Murphy's. I was impressed. By the time I started really getting into beer they decided to pull it from the market.

    I can't remember the details of the Carlsberg USA organization but if I recall correctly it didn't really work very well (@jesskidden plz fact check when if you get the chance :beers:)

    Agreed. It beats out Pacifico and Tecate in my opinion (and I really enjoy Pacifico and Tecate)
  28. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,507) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Imo it’s simply a matter of fresh beer vs not. This site has educated buyers, most are not. I value fresh beer, imports here if it’s fresh it’s 4-5 months old, and it’s downhill from there.
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,656) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yup, I had draft pints of Beamish at various Irish Pubs in Philly but that was a very long time ago.

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  30. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,078) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah, Beamish Stout was exported to the US on and off for decades - the brewery was owned by Canadian Breweries>Carling-O'Keefe starting in the 1960s IIRC, and it was handled by their US import division, Century Importers in the 80s and labeled Beamish Irish Cream Stout.
    By the 90s it was owned by Scottish & Newcastle, which brought it in via their US subsidiary, Scottish & Newcastle Importers, which eventually dropped it and many of their smaller brands from their US portfolio, and it was then picked up by the short-lived Carlsberg USA import company.

    But the disappearance of Beamish Stout from the US was a decision by Heineken, after the Dutch brewer and Carlsberg bought S&N in 2008, divided it up and Heineken wound up with the UK and the Irish parts of the company. Heineken, which already owned Murphy's (also brewed in Cork at the Lady's Well brewery) closed the Beamish brewery, moved the brand to Murphy's brewery and decided to stop exporting Beamish Stout.
    #70 jesskidden, Jul 21, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2020
  31. jonphisher

    jonphisher Disciple (325) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey

    Yea the price difference is absurd, I mean some of the German ones around here are 6$ a four pack of 500 ml cans. It’s crazy.

    Have you every done blind tastings to compare those 4-5 month old imports to fresher locals of the same style? Could be an interesting experiment.
  32. Grounder

    Grounder Initiate (71) Jun 20, 2019 Illinois

    FWIW, I had a few bottles of Hoegaarden left from last year's case, and they tasted significantly better than the ones I bought this year. Of course it could be a batch variation, but still, to my palate it did not suffer any.
  33. Sixpack595

    Sixpack595 Devotee (481) Dec 12, 2002 Michigan

    That's one of the most disheartening things about being a long time craft beer lover. We saw so much progress then a huge reversion as a flood of instantly forgettable beers shoved a lot of amazing imports off the shelves. I've tried to explain to my IPA of the week loving friends that it isn't that I hate IPA's, it's that I hate losing all the other beers that have been pushed aside for tap and shelf space. Obviously these days it isn't just IPA's flooding the shelves, but the result remains the same. A bunch of local cookie cutter flavor of the month brews have replaced some genuinely amazing world class beers.
  34. mikeinportc

    mikeinportc Meyvn (1,023) Nov 4, 2015 New York

    "Whatever happened to the imports?"
    Right here in my glass.:wink: I don't see the issues that y'all are reporting. There's way more good options than I can possibly drink. Then again, this area has been known to be behind when it comes to national trends. :thinking_face:
    They usually cost more than their US counterparts, so maybe that's part of it?

    Some recent examples :




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  35. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (818) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I was told by two different beer distributors that DAB is no longer coming to PA. No idea about the rest of the country. The replacer is Wolters. Around the same prive but just a bit less good. Its usually pretty fresh too.

  36. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (818) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania


    What distributor was that? Joe used to own the distributor near me and just sold right before the Virus arrived. Not a fan of the "new" place.

    Just wondering if its the same place

  37. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (818) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Wish I had made a list back then.......

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  38. russpowell

    russpowell Poo-Bah (10,358) May 24, 2005 Arkansas
    Society Trader

    The pissing Match between the EU & us means I rarely buy imports now. Too expensive & freshness question for many styles is still ever present
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  39. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,204) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    I was at a beer store the other day that usually stocked the beers brewed by Wells before the Marston's sale. They had some relatively recent Young's Double Chocolate. The Young's branding was front and center (and alone). It was brewed by Marston's at Eagle. I guess Marston's hasn't given up on the brand.

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  40. pro100

    pro100 Initiate (107) Oct 12, 2014 California

    Too much local top quality fresh instate goodness out there to focus on the Ye Olde Ales from the other side of the pond these days.