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Old 04-05-2012, 02:59 AM   #1
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Default Room for "boring" German Lagers in American Craft Brewing

Wanted to get some opinions on this. Do you think that there's a market for good, traditionally brewed German beers in the American Craft Beer landscape? The stuff that gets imported tastes like crap by the time it gets here, and is usually from the German equivalent of BMC to begin with. I try to get to Germany as much as I can, and when I'm sitting in a beautiful local brewery's beer garden (which probably only offers a couple of beers) drinking a fresh, malty Helles, or even a nice fresh Bavarian Hefeweizen, I think to myself how great it would be if we could have those types of beers in the US. I know that there are a few breweries that try, but they're few and far between, and sometimes their beers just aren't as good.

But then my natural cynicism hits me and I realize that beer nerds are fickle, and all you would hear are "Where's the imperial black IPA? Where's the chipotle-cucumber-melon rye belgo-sour ale? These beers are boring. Etc." Do you think people would accept that "hey, these guys do a couple of solid, drinkable beers, and that's fine." Whenever I read reviews of breweries that try to go this route, the number one thing mentioned is lack of variety.

Why does everyone need a blonde, a pale ale, an IPA, a red, a nut brown, a porter, a stout, a belgian, and a rotating seasonal? That's the standard american micro line-up, which to me is boring.

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Old 04-05-2012, 03:04 AM   #2
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Few random thoughts:

  1. Victory Prima Pils is better than any german pilsner I've had in Germany, and I go (almost) every November
  2. German pils is nice, but I like variety. I think most people do. I just need to make sure I keep an IPA on hand or I get antsy; I was in Dusseldorf recently and the only beers I could get were Alt and G. Pils... coulnd't even get a Kolsch even though Cologn is only a hour away; and don't even think about something hoppy; I was glad to get back the US of hoppy A
  3. chipotle-cucumber-melon rye belgo-sour ale - where can I get one of these? Wow!
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Old 04-05-2012, 03:05 AM   #3
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Not much of a market, clearly, otherwise they'd be offered more often. A competitive market works pretty well.

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Old 04-05-2012, 03:08 AM   #4
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Absolutely there is room for and a market for some finely crafted German beers. I think the market is not as big as it is for some of the traditional American styles, but I also think many Americans have never had a really good German beer. I'm sure I'm a bit of an outflier, but two of favorite styles are American IPA, and German Hef.

Here is a link to a local WA state brewery that does primarily German styles. Their beers are great, their growth has been awesome, and they won small brewery of the year in 2011. Sounds like the market is there to me.
http://chuckanutbreweryandkitchen.com/

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Old 04-05-2012, 03:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by passedpawn View Post
Few random thoughts:
  1. Victory Prima Pils is better than any german pilsner I've had in Germany, and I go (almost) every November
  2. German pils is nice, but I like variety. I think most people do. I just need to make sure I keep an IPA on hand or I get antsy; I was in Dusseldorf recently and the only beers I could get were Alt and G. Pils... coulnd't even get a Kolsch even though Cologn is only a hour away; and don't even think about something hoppy; I was glad to get back the US of hoppy A
  3. chipotle-cucumber-melon rye belgo-sour ale - where can I get one of these? Wow!
I agree that alot of the German pilsners are lacking, especially the bigger brands. They're falling into the same consolidation, conglomeration trap that our big breweries went through. But if you've ever drank a Klosterbier made by the monks on top of the Kreuzberg or a Mahr's Brau Kellerbier from Bamberg, or a good Helles from any number of the local breweries around Munich, those beers will touch you down deep the way the varsity cheerleaders got you when you were a freshman in high school.

I also think that the German beer landscape is not anywhere near as innovative as it is here, but what they do right they really do right.
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Old 04-05-2012, 04:05 AM   #6
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Touchdown.
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Old 04-05-2012, 03:02 PM   #7
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As session beers rise more in popularity in the craft beer industry (and with homebrewers) the market for basic German lagers styles will probably increase. There's been a lot of growth in the English and American session styles but I won't be surprised to see more continental styles come through. One challenge is to break people away from thinking the Helles on the shelf is not like BMC. I don't know how much people who dabble in craft beer will distinguish between the two.

I also find some US craft brewers aren't great at lager styles. They either go too hoppy/bitter for the style or the flavor is bland. So another challenge is getting more brewers here to up their lager game and produce lager on par with their ales.

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Old 04-05-2012, 03:07 PM   #8
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We have a Brewpub in town where this is their model. "Royal Bavaria". IIRC, they only brew German styles in accordance with Rheinheitsgebot (sp).

Not very well tho. IIRC, they stay under the 3.2% cap to avoid federal regulation. (3.2% is regulated under City/State health ordinance here)

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Old 04-05-2012, 03:13 PM   #9
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Have you tried the Weeping Raddish's beers? They are mostly authentic german beers and are really tasty! They are in Elizabeth City, NC I beleive.

I second the "Variety" thing, however if you can only drink 1 type of beer for the rest of your life a pilsner or helles doesn't seem like bad option

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Old 04-05-2012, 03:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benko View Post
I agree that alot of the German pilsners are lacking, especially the bigger brands. They're falling into the same consolidation, conglomeration trap that our big breweries went through. But if you've ever drank a Klosterbier made by the monks on top of the Kreuzberg or a Mahr's Brau Kellerbier from Bamberg, or a good Helles from any number of the local breweries around Munich, those beers will touch you down deep the way the varsity cheerleaders got you when you were a freshman in high school.

I also think that the German beer landscape is not anywhere near as innovative as it is here, but what they do right they really do right.
I agree with all this!
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