Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why American Beer is superior to British Beer!

I know, that's fightin' talk...

The current belle of my bar - Yard's Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale

But as far as I'm concerned, I think there's a very valid argument to be made that America is the current master of beer brewing. Since the first day I set foot in the United States, I've been on a foamy journey of discovery that has never failed to impress me.

First off, though, let me set the record straight: When I'm talking about 'American Beer' I'm not referring to Budweiser, Miller or Schlitz - the post-war, mass-produced abomination that most people think of when they they hear the words 'American Beer.' That stuff is an insult to beer-making - a tasteless, watery concoction that uses cheap, subsidized rice to bolster the traditional recipe of water, barley, yeast and hops.

I'm talking about the microbreweries that exploded in the last decade or so - exploring the stunning array of beer-making possibilities and adding a uniquely American twist to traditional British, German and Belgian brewing techniques.

Here are my top three reasons for thinking American beer is better than British:
  1. It's more flavorful. Americans like their beer cold - icy cold. For that reason, most brewers make singularly robust recipes that have sharp, hoppy notes that can be enjoyed even at frigid temperatures. By comparison, British beer - often served lukewarm - is fairly tasteless.
  2. It's more refreshing. There's that cold thing again - but also a uniquely American twist on traditional recipes. British real ales tend to be flat. American palettes, weaned on Budweiser and other fizzy brews, still value the lightness and carbonation of lager and Pilsner. This has led many American brewers to combine the flavor and character of 'real' beer with the refreshing qualities of watered-down horse urine like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Natural Light.
  3. It's got character. From my personal favorite, brewed from Thomas Jefferson's original recipe, to modern twists on Belgian Wheat Beer and a host of I.P.A.s, American brewers are willing to try all sorts of exciting things that British brewers simply aren't. It's indicative of the fundamental difference between the American and British mindsets. Brits hold tradition to be sacred - especially when they're talking about beer. Americans, on the other hand, are willing to pus the envelope - with often spectacular results.
Now I've stated my case, here are my top five picks of American beers:
  • Yards Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale: Yards is a brewery in Philadelphia, and this is one of their 'Ales of the Revolution.' Taken from Thomas Jefferson's authentic period recipe, it's a classic English style ale just marinating in flavor. While it's fairly flat, like many British real ales, it compensates for that by being a real piece of history.
  • Sam Adams Boston Lager: This wonderful lager was my first introduction to American beer, and for that reason remains my sentimental favorite. Rich and hoppy, with a deep amber color and the refreshing lightness of lager, it's the epitomizes everything I feel is superior about American beer.
  • Brooklyn Lager: Made by a little brewery down in Brooklyn, NY, Brooklyn Lager is a winner in my books because it has many of the same traits as Sam Adams - it's light and refreshing, while packed with rich hoppy flavors and character.
  • Sam Adams Noble Pils: A seasonal beer by the Boston Brewing Company, Noble Pils is a light Pilsner-style lager made with five different types of hop - making it packed with flavor, while deliciously light and refreshing. Unfortunately, it's not available all year round - since this is one of my favorites.
  • Dale's Pale Ale: Made by a small brewery in Colorado, this flavorful pale ale is packed with hoppy taste and packs a punch at 6.5%. Not the cheapest of beers - especially considering it only comes in a can - it's nevertheless a real treat and one of my favorites.
Now I'm not sure if people will disagree with my assessment of American Ales - but I think there's a really solid case to be made for the inherent awesomeness of stateside brews over those of my homeland.


paul mitchell said...

I will tell you this, all Sam Adams brews will give you the worst hangover in history if you go all crazy with it. Seems to me that they are deliberately trying to hurt you.

One said...
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One Salient Oversight said...

You need to test the beer in equivalent conditions ie get American beer, heat it to room temperature and wait until the fizz is gone and then finally urinate in it. At that point your American and British beers can then be consumed under similar conditions.

Andy said...


April said...

I LOVED this post Rols! I am new to the beer drinking world, my husband has been trying to teach me beer appreciation for ages. I love anything made by Dogfish Head. But now you have given me some new ones to try. Check out my husband's beer review site - Cheers! :)

Full Metal Patriot said...

I love me some Sam Adams! If you're on a beer quest, be sure not to miss Shiner Bock. This Texas brewery crafts several tasty varieties of ales & lagers in the German tradition. Their Bohemian Black Lager is not to be missed!

Good Burp said...

Roland, I have to agree with you. I do think American Micro Brews are far superior to those of Europe.

I applaud your top 5 list. Boston Brewery brews some nice beers. But you need to brach out a little more. Brooklyn Brewery is a great brewery as well. I wish I had better access to their fine crafted ales out here on the west coast.

But you had me at Dale's Pale Ale. My first, and only love of beer in a can. I still remember my first one in the spring of 2007. That little brewery from Colorado (Oskar Bules) turnes out some mighty nice beers.

But next time you are out looking for a new beer to try. Grab a Dodfish Head. Just about any of them will be a treat. 90 Minute IPA, Midas Touch, Raison D'Entre, or if your lucky enought to find a seasonal, any of them will please you in a way you never thought was imaginable.

But don't give up on Europe. They have some amazing beers. Although they are a little difficult to aquire in the states. Any of the Trappist Ales are amazing. Orval and Rochefort are a couple of my favorites.

I do have a soft spot in my heart for Germany. No, I'm not talking about Beck's. Oktoberfest Marzens are my favorite. Paulaner and Schneider Weisse turn out some great beers as well.

To tell you the truth, what we have going on here is a new breed of beer. So do yourself a favor, try something new. There is always another beer to try.

That's my motto.


EmmaK said...

Thank you for doing this important research - hey someone had to do it. I don't drink much beer microbrewery or otherwise as it gives me headaches. Being a brit I mainly drink G&T Bombay Sapphire of course!!

Jason said...

I want a beer......BEER!!!!

Buck said...

Hopefully you'll see this in e-mail, Roland, seein' as how I'm WAY late to this party.

Great post and you've captured my thoughts exactly. But I will be FOREVER grateful to your countrymen for introducing me to real beer back around 1980 when I was posted to London. I never was much of a beer drinker before that time, given the state of American brews back then. All that changed, and changed for the best, after living in London for three years.

Another brewery with excellent output is New Belgium, out of Fort Collins, CO. Fat Tire is their flagship brew, but their selection goes way beyond that. I particularly like 1554... a Belgian-style dark ale.

And if you've never been... is an EXCELLENT resource for sussing out beers you've never heard of but might wanna try.