BeerDorks.com: Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

 
February 2, 2009

Beer Diary:

Alien Beer

It’s international month at BeerDorks.com as we look at the great historical brews and new breed of craft beer from around the globe.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
On the day after the single greatest celebration of American popular culture—the Super Bowl—leave it to the Dorks to look in the exact opposite way to celebrate another world treasure that seemingly has next to nothing to do with the hype machine of the United States: internationally produced beer. That’s right. This February we’re going to focus on the plethora of great beer brewed outside America’s borders by talking about it, drinking it, and reviewing it. Some readers may be mystified as to why a site dedicated to Midwest craft beer would shift its focus to the other side of the globe, but in actuality it makes sense to turn our eyes outward every so often to see what else is out there.

At the dawn of the American craft beer revolution, brewers did just that and looked to other continents—mainly Europe—for inspiration and ideas. Except for a tiny handful of regional or smaller breweries scattered across the U.S., virtually all American breweries specialized in one beer style alone: light lagers. In other words, shit beer. Only in areas like Europe were other kinds of beer still alive. And this is where the new breed of American brewers started when they wanted to expand their beer horizons.

Now European brewers are looking back at their American counterparts, and the seemingly endless wave of innovation coming out of the craft beer industry, to expand—or reinvigorate—their already storied beer cultures. Small European craft brewers like England’s Meantime, Norway’s Haand Bryggeriet and Nøgne Ø Brewery, Scotland’s Brewdog, and Italy’s Birrificio Italiano, to name just a few, are giving their own unique twists to traditional styles as well as creating whacked-out experimental brews.

And even though the U.S. craft beer industry is the most dynamic in the world at the moment, it never pays for an industry to exist in a wholly homogenous environment. This leads only to stagnation of both thought and invention, so both craft brewers and beer drinkers need to continually look outside our comfort zones, and, with beer, at least, many times that means looking across the oceans to breweries scattered to every corner of the Earth.

But that doesn’t mean we should only be interested in the newer breweries cropping up in Europe and beyond. There is still value—great value—in looking at the offerings from the great historical brewers in England, Germany, and Belgium. One, because a lot of these beers are still some of the best in the world, as well as being the blueprints for the majority of the world’s great beer styles. And two, because it is important to keep classic but dying (at least outside of the U.S.) styles alive and forever in our consciousness. Rauchbiers, lambics, and other regional styles that are slowly winking out of existence in Europe could become the next great beers of the U.S.—or maybe just the Midwest—craft beer movement.





Comments
When I first discovered the joy of craft beer, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the different styles. As I continued to expand my pallet and knowledge of these styles, I found the foreign classic's were the barometer to which all the new American craft beers were measured. I guess to a certain extent I still think of these beers whenever I sample a new craft beer.
posted by Ryan | February 3, 2009, 8:03 AM
I always rely on European brews when the beer selection at a bar or restaurant is pathetic. Many a time I've been saved by Guinness or Bass on draft when the only other alternatives are Miller Lite and Bud.
posted by SteveBennet | February 3, 2009, 12:28 PM