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Old 07-08-2009, 12:04 AM   #11
danlad
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Originally Posted by mosyslack View Post
I would think that the US beers tend to be crisper, less yeasty flavors, and more hops...like what most others have said. There has been a huge interest (lately) in the Belgium style beer and brewing methods. From what I remember, the European styles tend to focus more on the malts.
Yes on the Belgian front. They often seem to me like British beers but more so with their sugar boosted strength and distinct yeast influences over hoppiness. But then I was brought up on Yorkshire bitter from casks, which is smooth, relatively young, 'flat' and malty in general I'd say. I can well imagine that a bottled version of that would hit a kind of mid point between cask ale and strong Belgian maltiness. Which is exactly what I aim for in my own brews

What else would people suggest as an ideal primer for American ales?
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Old 07-08-2009, 12:30 AM   #12
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One of our amber ales- Troegs near me makes a fine one that's slam full of hops. Ambers are our take on ESB, so that might be interesting to you. An amber is crisper, hoppier, and maybe a bit heavier on caramel.

A pre-Prohibition style lager- Sam Adams or Brooklyn. Not ales, but this country traditionally loves its lager. The Anchor Steam is a lager too.

American Wheat- Widmer is as good as any, imo.

American Pale Ale- You tried Sierra Nevada. Maybe try it again? It's the classic.

American IPA- Any that you see. Stone and Dogfish Head are perhaps most representative of the style.

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Old 07-08-2009, 12:27 PM   #13
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To me there is a lot of variability in what is a good beer. Even the American Light style is fine for those who prefer an ice-cold refreshing drink, although I think there are still light styles that have a bit more flavor out there.

Sierra Nevada is probably considered a straight-down-the-line great example of an American Pale Ale. Probably a bit hoppier than most, but not as hopped as the American IPA.

With so many choices, it's hard to say just exactly what is a great American Craft beer. One thing that stands out for me, is that although we have lately tended to shift from one style to another, the one thing that always happens is that we will shy away from subtlety.

I'm not sure it's an American thing, or just a reflex action from so many people rediscovering the many fantastic variety of beer. Perhaps as people get used to the different styles, some of them will appreciate the subtle flavors more, and cut back on the bigger-is-better mentality.

Then again, I never thought I'd be a Hophead, but I LOVES me some big hops! It's a treat to have a pint or two of IIPA. I really like the American version too. But I also like the maltier beers too. Just depends on what I'm in the mood for.

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Old 07-08-2009, 12:31 PM   #14
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If you wanna tastes of american non-craft/microbrews, then i've got 2 words for you- Bud Light. I'm not recommending or endorsing. A majority of the major beers in the US are on that level. However, as far as a mass brew that i'm partial to, Sam Adams Black Lager.

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Old 07-08-2009, 12:59 PM   #15
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IMO Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the base line for American craft brews. I'm not saying I like it, I also found it too bitter and a hollow experience. I think though, that for it's price against it's quality it sets a certain standard that other beers can be measured against in terms of value for money and general taste. For someone from the UK tasting it I believe it gives a good indication in the difference in hop/malt ratio that can be expected in as the US base when compared to an English bitter.

More simply, it seems to me that in most cases, the more you pay the more hops you get in relation to malt and ABV

I started homebrewing so that I could make bitter. I like a nice good session ale that won't floor me. For this reason I don't bother with the micro brews any more. Most are excellent, but just not for me. They just don't seem to have a market for session beer.

Why am I rambling?

If you see anything from Great Lakes Brewing Co. you should definitely give that a whirl. They are solid.

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Old 07-08-2009, 02:03 PM   #16
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+1 Gnome

That's an issue that I've had with the "Craft Brewer" movement. The brewing of simple, easy drinking brews is almost seen as below them. If it isn't full of exotic fruit, over 6% ABV, or 100 IBU's its deemed as not worth brewing.

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Old 07-08-2009, 02:14 PM   #17
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It's funny, I got into homebrewing so I could control the hop and malt presence to my liking. I never really loved the super-hoppy microbrews here in the states, but loved the malty session beers of the UK.

I've come to like some real hoppy beers lately. Had a Russian River Pliny the Elder last week. Had to eat something with it - it just about peeled my lips off. But in a masochistic way it was really good.

I'm probably going to get shot for this, but... My personal opinion is that it's pretty easy to make a pretty so-so beer, but hop the hell out of it to cover flaws. Hell, I recently made a Blonde Ale that I fermented too hot. The advice for fixing it was - 'dry hop it'. So I think that while there are a number of really great beers out there that are really hoppy, it's also really easy to hop up a bad beer to cover flaws. Kinda the same reason BMC is chilled to almost freezing.

I'm with you Gnome - I'd rather have a session beer that tastes fantastic and I can drink a few than a high ABV that's hopped to high heaven.

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Old 07-08-2009, 02:50 PM   #18
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Pull the hop train over people!

I'm as big a hop fan as they get, but if this guy thinks SN is too bitter, we shouldn't point him towards Stone and Dogfish Head just yet!

Our beer culture, much like our food culture is young, but has gone through many phases in its short history. As a young upstart nation, we tend to like things a bit extreme, and right now we're leaning towards hop heavy beers. This doesn't mean that that's the only good type of beer in the states.

The first step in finding your taste is to try to identify what you like and dislike in a beer. The best way to do this is to drink beers that identify some of the flavors for you at first. Beer is a complex drink with flavors that can range from caramel and toffee to fruits and spices, sweet to sour and bitter to very mellow. Read the labels and look for consistent flavors in the beers you enjoy. Try to identify these flavors as you drink the beer so that you can determine how they work together.

While some styles aren't native to the US, American brewers have adapted many traditional styles and made them their own. Try looking for an American Brown Ale, American Stout (stout doesn't all taste like Guinness), or an American Rye, or if you prefer a lighter beer, look for a good American Pilsner, or a lightly hopped Pale Ale. American Barleywine can be an amazing drink on its own, or as a compliment to dessert.

The best part about finding out what you like in a beer is drinking it! You may eventually learn to like hops and bitter flavors, but until then, try drinking some of the other styles mentioned and discover the wonderful world of beer!

FYI - You can also check out the BJCP style guidelines for good examples of styles, and the descriptions they provide may help you decide what you'd like to try.

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Old 07-08-2009, 04:05 PM   #19
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If you're used to malty English beers, I probably first try a California Common. It's considered the earliest American style beer...and coincidentally, is Anchor Steam's flagship beer (which Anchor Steam is credited as being one of the first breweries to start this American craft beer craze). The main thing about a California Common (also called Steam beer) is that it has lager ingredients, but brewed like an ale....so it is maltier then a crisp lager then.

The main thing about craft beer now is that most breweries are going for "extremes"....be it ABV, hops, amount of specialty grains, or utilizing some unusual ingredient. So if you want to eventually try a hop bomb, it's probably best to get weaned on some established styles first

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Old 07-08-2009, 04:22 PM   #20
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I'm going to go against the grain here and suggest trying a few hop-bombs. maybe not IIPA, but a hoppy American IPA. Try a few, like only about 6 or 12 without drinking anything else. (not necessarily in one sitting...). Then try some other stuff. You may find that you appreciate the hops more, and that the beer you loved before it somehow lacking.

I'm not suggesting that AIPAs are a session beer. I'm just saying that you will get used to them and be able to find the subtley within once the shock wears off. For me, they are a special beer. not one that I'd sit and drink several (I don't do that with any beer, actually), but one or two good ones are a treat, just like an Imperial Stout, or Barleywine for dessert beer.

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