"American" Beer, What is it?

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kartracer2

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Some times I just think about dumb stuff. This time it is about what constitutes calling a beer "American".
I see it prefixing many styles, "American" wheat, porter, pale ale etc.
Must be something that they have in common, what is it?

I suppose I could look at all the recipes and try to find a trend but what fun is that?
One reason I don't is because I'm looking more for the opinions of the community.
What do you think makes a beer "Americanized"?.

Cheers :mug: and thanks for your time.
Joel B.
 

z-bob

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A beer brewed in America using predominantly North American ingredients. Especially a style that originated somewhere else. (and I don't think many styles are native to America) My American Porter is mostly US or Canadian 2-row or pale ale and light crystal malts, and I use Willamette hops. I use black malt from wherever I can get black malt, and often that's England. But the beer doesn't try to be an English porter so I put the American qualifier on it.

That's my personal definition :) Yours might be different. And there might be an official definition that is different still.
 

Miraculix

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From a European perspective, the main thing is the hops that are being used. Prominent examples are all the c-hops, like citra for example. Strong American hop flavour, compared to the European noble varieties. Also, American beer tends to be stronger then the European counterpart, but the main thing is the hops.
 

monkeymath

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From a European perspective, the main thing is the hops that are being used. Prominent examples are all the c-hops, like citra for example. Strong American hop flavour, compared to the European noble varieties. Also, American beer tends to be stronger then the European counterpart, but the main thing is the hops.

I actually think yeast is an important factor as well, at least in some cases. The difference between an American IPA and an English IPA might be more strongly rooted in the hop varieties (and amounts, possibly) used, but for example with Porter, I'd think the yeast is perhaps even more important. I know American Porters can be quite highly hopped, but I'd call any porter made using a Chico strain "American".

(Trick question: what makes "American Light Lager" so American? :p)
 

monkeymath

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Like everything that has been corrupted by capitalism greed, I'd say cheap ingredients, cheap process, lack of respect for the trade and complete disregard for the customer satisfaction.

Putting a good spin on the word "American" there, I'd say ;)
 

bracconiere

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What do you think makes a beer "Americanized"?.


i'm drinking american cider right now...apples are probably reconstituted from china concentrate...but hell i added the spices and yeast!

got some barley drying with the box fan, ready to go in my spiffy new deculmer!! ;) i think that will be a good american, something or other....

from what i've seen, the germans didn't like the high protein of our barley....so they added rice and stuff to lighten it? which became 'american'....and IndisputibleDevil...InDev for short...... lol :mug:
 

Miraculix

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I actually think yeast is an important factor as well, at least in some cases. The difference between an American IPA and an English IPA might be more strongly rooted in the hop varieties (and amounts, possibly) used, but for example with Porter, I'd think the yeast is perhaps even more important. I know American Porters can be quite highly hopped, but I'd call any porter made using a Chico strain "American".

(Trick question: what makes "American Light Lager" so American? :p)
That is true.

The American light lager is kind of defined by the adjuncts that, for example, most German breweries wouldn't use. Like flakes maize or rice.
 

Beerstein

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A beer brewed in America using predominantly North American ingredients. Especially a style that originated somewhere else. (and I don't think many styles are native to America) My American Porter is mostly US or Canadian 2-row or pale ale and light crystal malts, and I use Willamette hops. I use black malt from wherever I can get black malt, and often that's England. But the beer doesn't try to be an English porter so I put the American qualifier on it.

That's my personal definition :) Yours might be different. And there might be an official definition that is different still.

I’d buy into this. We have some very unique spins on foreign beer styles. E.g. NE IPA, Brut IPA.

I think someone should invent a Rosé IPA.
 

Miraculix

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I’d buy into this. We have some very unique spins on foreign beer styles. E.g. NE IPA, Brut IPA.

I think someone should invent a Rosé IPA.
I know a good polish brewery that does a rose IPA which is surprisingly really really good. It's brewed with American hops and rose petals. It's called Roza Wiatrow.
 
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kartracer2

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Thanks for all the input so far, interesting for sure.
Except for the hop bombs that seem to be the "new normal", I was expecting to hear about more muted flavors and maybe a blending/crossover of styles. I say that using Am wheat as an example, I saw one using US-05, I can't imagine using any thing but 3068 or Munich Classic (or equiv) yeast in a wheat beer. Also Am Light Lager, little actual flavor but I do enjoy the crispness of them at times
.

A beer brewed in America using predominantly North American ingredients.
OK, with this thinking, as an extract brewer that uses mostly Briess extract, my beers are then "Americanized"?
(just another dumb Q or a missed assumption on my part I'm sure)
Cheers and thanks, :mug:
Joel B.
 
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Putting a good spin on the word "American" there, I'd say ;)
It's actually a direct reference at BMC's brewing process. Take the cheapest grain you can find, calculate every bit of extra diastatic power, and replace as much grain as you can with the cheapest starch you can find, i.e rice. Then dilute your beer with about 50% water.

The Babylonians would have drown these people in their own beer for disrespecting the craft and the customers. True story.
 

MaxStout

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I have a friend in Germany who lived and studied in the US in the '90s, but he hasn't been here since. He recently asked, "Are your beers still as shiatty as ever?" I told him he needs to come over here and try some.

Mass-produced light lagers still hold the lion's share of the market, but the craft beer share is steadily increasing. The macro companies know that; why do you think they have been buying up craft breweries the past several years?
 

cmac62

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I think it is because American's like things bigger and bolder, ie. more hops and alcohol (richer). Here is something from the BJCP for Am BW:

Style Comparison: The American version of the Barleywine tends to have a greater emphasis on hop bitterness, flavor and aroma than the English Barleywine, and often features American hop varieties. Typically paler than the darker English Barleywines (and lacking in the deeper malt flavors) but darker than the golden English Barleywines. Differs from a Double IPA in that the hops are not extreme, the malt is more forward, and the body is fuller and often richer. An American Barleywine typically has more residual sweetness than a Double IPA, which affects the overall drinkability (sipping vs. drinking).

and from the Am Brown ale:

Style Comparison: More chocolate and caramel type flavors than American Pale or Amber Ales, typically with less prominent bitterness in the balance. Less bitterness, alcohol, and hop character than Brown IPAs. More bitter and generally hoppier than English Brown Ales, with a richer malt presence, usually higher alcohol, and American/New World hop character.
 
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kartracer2

kartracer2

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All BMC bashing aside, It is making a little more sense.
So we take a style and use American ingredients. Wa-La!! :ban: American beer!!. I know it's not that simple but
what drives it. Availability of said supplies? Cost perhaps, or is it just the desire to make it/name it American?
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
 

Falstaff

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I've always found American beers to more agressive. I find they lack the subtleties of beers from across the pond.
 

TurnipGreen

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No one mentioned this, but American beer is cold.
I like it that way. While I can appreciate why a certain style is served warmer than others, I always prefer beer cold.
 

bwible

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That is true.

The American light lager is kind of defined by the adjuncts that, for example, most German breweries wouldn't use. Like flakes maize or rice.
The Germans historically never needed to use adjuncts like corn or rice. They had 2 row barley. The adjuncts come into play in the new world where the brewers had 6 row barley and had to find a way to make good beer with it. This is where corn and rice enter the show. They were originally added out of necessity.

 

Brooothru

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From a European perspective, the main thing is the hops that are being used. Prominent examples are all the c-hops, like citra for example. Strong American hop flavour, compared to the European noble varieties. Also, American beer tends to be stronger then the European counterpart, but the main thing is the hops.
I would add the use of six row barley to (historically) the exclusion of two row, plus the inclusion of adjuncts like corn.
 

cire

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A beer brewed in America using predominantly North American ingredients. Especially a style that originated somewhere else. (and I don't think many styles are native to America) My American Porter is mostly US or Canadian 2-row or pale ale and light crystal malts, and I use Willamette hops. I use black malt from wherever I can get black malt, and often that's England. But the beer doesn't try to be an English porter so I put the American qualifier on it.

That's my personal definition :) Yours might be different. And there might be an official definition that is different still.

I'm British and that does fit well with my perception, although I'd point out that black malt wasn't available until Porter was in well into its terminal decline.

Below is an extract from a paper to the British Institute of Brewers in the sixties, and to be frank is still the general opinion here today.

USA.jpg



But there has been a massive change in recent years and while many new American beers are over hopped, over rated and thankfully over there, as frequently demonstrated in this forum, a great deal of knowledge is spreading to the advantage of beer and drinkers alike. Time will narrow the differences in beers, knowledge and opinions, but we will keep and still need some diversity.

Incidentally, 6 row barley was used in small quantities by British brewers for its enzyme content, to ensure full conversion of adjuncts and roasted malts as home grown 2 row barley had limited conversion capacity.
 

Hans O. Lowe

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The Germans historically never needed to use adjuncts like corn or rice. They had 2 row barley. The adjuncts come into play in the new world where the brewers had 6 row barley and had to find a way to make good beer with it. This is where corn and rice enter the show. They were originally added out of necessity.


Interesting Beersmith podcast on American adjunct lagers YouTube link

It is stated that this style originated in Europe and was brought to the US where it was brewed by Germans for Germans in immigrant communities.

Not a desirable style for the bulk of people on this forum, but it sure is popular worldwide.
 

Brooothru

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Interesting Beersmith podcast on American adjunct lagers YouTube link

It is stated that this style originated in Europe and was brought to the US where it was brewed by Germans for Germans in immigrant communities.

Not a desirable style for the bulk of people on this forum, but it sure is popular worldwide.

I happened to read the linked article "Reviving the Classic American Pilsner" and realized that the author's experience had been identical to mine. When I first started brewing a few decades ago I got a copy of Palmer's How to Brew that had the recipe for "Your Father's Mustache" and I set out to brew it numerous times over the years but never seemed to get it just right, with many tweaks and dead ends along the way.

Three years ago I was gearing up for a competition and was one entry short, but had about half a keg in the kegerator of my Pre-Prohibition lager and figured I'd fill my 'dance card' with some left-over. It won Best of Show. The judges loved it. I later talked with one of the judges from the mini-BOS who said it was the hands-down favorite when the final judging went down. Part of the win was the opportunity to brew the recipe with a local brew pub and have it served in their restaurant and bar area. Covid slammed the door on that adventure for a couple of years, but last summer it all came together. I got to talk to the servers and wait staff at the Tapping of the Keg and describe the style and history of the beer so they could answer any questions from the patrons.

The feedback I received from the brewery was that the beer was very well received, and the half dozen sixtles they had kicked within a few days. The brewery also served it at a local Oktober Fest celebration beer tent last Fall, and it also kicked quite quickly. This style really seems to strike an unexpected chord with beer drinkers, in spite of the popular trends to hazy and fruity hop bombs and milkshakes favored by hipsters these days. Or maybe what's old is new again.
 

bwible

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I happened to read the linked article "Reviving the Classic American Pilsner" and realized that the author's experience had been identical to mine. When I first started brewing a few decades ago I got a copy of Palmer's How to Brew that had the recipe for "Your Father's Mustache" and I set out to brew it numerous times over the years but never seemed to get it just right, with many tweaks and dead ends along the way.

Three years ago I was gearing up for a competition and was one entry short, but had about half a keg in the kegerator of my Pre-Prohibition lager and figured I'd fill my 'dance card' with some left-over. It won Best of Show. The judges loved it. I later talked with one of the judges from the mini-BOS who said it was the hands-down favorite when the final judging went down. Part of the win was the opportunity to brew the recipe with a local brew pub and have it served in their restaurant and bar area. Covid slammed the door on that adventure for a couple of years, but last summer it all came together. I got to talk to the servers and wait staff at the Tapping of the Keg and describe the style and history of the beer so they could answer any questions from the patrons.

The feedback I received from the brewery was that the beer was very well received, and the half dozen sixtles they had kicked within a few days. The brewery also served it at a local Oktober Fest celebration beer tent last Fall, and it also kicked quite quickly. This style really seems to strike an unexpected chord with beer drinkers, in spite of the popular trends to hazy and fruity hop bombs and milkshakes favored by hipsters these days. Or maybe what's old is new again.
That article is dated 2018 on MoreBeer’s website but it is much older than that. It was originally published in Brewing Techniques magazine which is long out of business.

From what I have been able to determine, the “New Ulm” yeast mentioned in the article is Wyeast 2035. Best guess. Wyeast has since made this a limited edition strain. They call theirs “PC” for private collection. So 2035PC is not available year round, only when Wyeast decides to put it out as a seasonal strain.

If anybody knows different what this “New Ulm” strain is, please correct me. I’d love to get some.

I went with Fermentis 34/70 for the last CAP I did and I was not unhappy with it.
 
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Brooothru

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That article is dated 2018 on MoreBeer’s website but it is much older than that. It was originally published in Brewing Techniques magazine which is long out of business.

From what I have been able to determine, the “New Ulm” yeast mentioned in the article is Wyeast 2035. Best guess. Wyeast has since made this a limited edition strain. They call theirs “PC” for private collection. So 2035PC is not available year round, only when Wyeast decides to put it out as a seasonal strain.

If anybody knows different what this “New Ulm” strain is, please correct me. I’d love to get some.

I went with Fermentis 34/70 for the last CAP I did and I was not unhappy with it.
Agree on the yeast. I used WLP-830, as did the brewery in our collaboration. Simple grist: 6 row, pilsner, flaked maize. Nugget, Cluster and Liberty hops. The end result was very tasty.
 

Sam_92

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I think the definition of "American style" means there is no definition. American beers break the rules and push the envelope. We don't have a century old brewing tradition here because our country isn't that old and it took a while to get barley crops to take. We also killed off any chance of keeping classical breweries around with prohibition. Now we're like a kid with a new toy, running around being crazy little maniacs and creating chaos. We read about Scotch ales and then add peat smoked malt and make the "American" version. Or use a neutral ale yeast in a wheat beer and add more hops and now it's "American". So we mimic the traditions of countries old enough to have them, but because they're not our traditions we don't really follow them and then we have created something new.
 

bwible

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That article is dated 2018 on MoreBeer’s website but it is much older than that. It was originally published in Brewing Techniques magazine which is long out of business.

From what I have been able to determine, the “New Ulm” yeast mentioned in the article is Wyeast 2035. Best guess. Wyeast has since made this a limited edition strain. They call theirs “PC” for private collection. So 2035PC is not available year round, only when Wyeast decides to put it out as a seasonal strain.

If anybody knows different what this “New Ulm” strain is, please correct me. I’d love to get some.

I went with Fermentis 34/70 for the last CAP I did and I was not unhappy with it.
So just as an update on this, Wyeast’s website is listing 2035PC as having been released and available Jan-March. I’m looking around and only a couple places seem to have it for sale online. But its out there now. Any yeast bankers that want to try to grab this.

 
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