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

 
February 2, 2010

Beer Diary:

Live Every Month Like It’s International Month

Where, for one month, at least, we’re kind of like Magellan except with beer.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
And another International Month—colloquially known as “February”—is upon us at BeerDorks.com. This is the month that we expand our horizons not just outside our Midwest comfort zone, but outside the border itself to beers brewed in the nether (i.e. “non-U.S.”) regions of the world.

We do this to shine a spotlight on some great beers you may encounter in your various ramblings across the countryside that you might not have heard a lot about, or you’ve seen on many a tap list but don’t know what to expect.

Plus, it’s great to revisit classics that have become the archetypes of their respective styles. By exploring and understanding these beers, we can get a better picture of Midwest brewers’ takes on these different brews and how they’ve added to (or, in some unfortunate cases, subtracted from) their uniqueness to make the style all their own, whether it’s Capital’s take on the Oktoberfest and doppelbock styles to craft Autumnal Fire, Three Floyds’ warped view of pale ales to create Alpha King, or Bell’s version of the wheat beer to give us Oberon.

It’s great to revisit classics that have become the archetypes of their respective styles.
And, let’s admit it: there’re a couple styles out there that American brewers haven’t really hit on the head yet. Just to pull one out of the air: German pilsners. First off, thanks to Miller and their wretched ilk, the word pilsner has come to symbolize all that is wrong with beer in America. But a true, fresh German pilsner is everything you’d want in a beer: crisp hoppiness balanced perfectly with a soft—yet complex—malt profile, finishing clean and zesty. The key word in that last sentenct, though, is fresh. A delicate pilsner doesn’t stand up, well, at all to aging or mishandling, so here in the States the only way you can get one is to visit a really good beer bar that might have one on tap, or a really authentic German bar. And keep your fingers cross that the barrel under said bar hadn’t been sitting in the hold of a sweltering container ship off the coast of New York for three months.

We are not exploring these beers simply because the fact that they come from farther away or are harder to get somehow ineherently makes them better. Human nature likes to equate rarity with quality—like the British nobility of yesteryear thinking they were lording it over their subjects with fancy imported frog wine, while the peasants were actually drinking the good stuff: home brewed ale. Homer Simpson summed it up pretty well when visiting that big showoff, Ned Flanders:

There’re a couple styles out there that American brewers haven’t really hit on the head yet.
“You’ve been rubbing my nose in it since I got here! Your family is better than my family. Your beer comes from farther away than my beer! You and your son like each other, your wife’s butt is higher than my wife’s butt! You make me sick!”

In other words, there’s nothing that says the beer brewed down the street can be just as good, if not better, than the classics brewed by the old masters. But, like I said with my incoherent rambling a few paragraphs up, there is still value in revisiting the beers that spawned the styles that many American craft brewers are aspiring toward today—as well as exploring the new wave of international brewers who are mixing American brashness with old world refinement, for better or for worse.

So sit back, open a beer, and follow us around the globe. Keep checking back throughout the month and see what beers we find in our explorations. Hell, we may even sample a beer from the remotest place on the planet: Canada.





Comments
The biggest problem with North American brewers attempting a pilsner is the malt...unless they're importing it, its tough to replicate the mouth feel of a good Czech or Bavarian pils.
That said, Victory is nice and the original Atwater Pils (not the current version of Atwater) was also very good.
posted by rings | February 4, 2010, 12:58 PM
Good point. Stan Hieronymus makes some comments along those lines in his latest blog post:

http://appellationbeer.com/blog/brewing-with-wheat-shipping-soon/
posted by EddieGlick | February 4, 2010, 9:21 PM

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