DRAFT PICKS: ‘American beers’ are not American
After my recent “I’m a beer snob” admission, I received a few letters both in support of and also criticizing my lack of appreciation for “... real American beer.”
OK. Let’s get serious.
Under the most trying of circumstances it would be hard to say that Big Sky, or Rogue, or Stone, or Dogfish Head, or Tri-City, or Founder’s, or Bells, or Short’s or Brewery Vivant, or Redwood Brewing Company in Flint, or Cranker’s just down the street, or ... any of these fine, fine breweries turning some absolutely inspiring and artistic beers aren’t home to “... real American beer.”
It’s obvious the writer was making a point saying the typical style of beer I call “Late American Industrial” but actually categorized as “American Adjunct Beer” is “real” and the rest are some foo-foo European clones.
As they say in the Twitter world ... OMG!
There really can be no more “real” American beers than those being produced down the street, around the corner, in a local brewpub, using the best American ingredients, raised by hardworking American farmers and growers, and blended by good American folks living out their dream of turning out great beer for friends and neighbors.
How can that not be “... real American beer?” How? Why?
Gentle readers, classmates, fellow explorers, I implore you!
As was so succinctly pointed out by a brewer friend, most of the “American beers” listed in last weeks American Adjunct Lagers listing were actually not American companies at all!
“The largest American owned breweries are Yeungling and Sam Adams.
“It’s sad but true, that many Americans will tell you to ‘Buy American’ while they are drinking a beer that is NOT American owned. Those same people may key your ‘foreign’ car.
“Craft beers tend to be as local and fresh as you can get. Enjoy them often.”
So, who does own a sampling of the leading “American” beers?
Well, for example ...
Budweiser — The Belgian brewing company called In-Bev.
Corona — Corona Beer is owned by a Mexican company called, Grupo Modelo, and they are the world’s eight largest brewer.
Miller High Life — Miller is owned by a South African company (South African Breweries — SABMiller is the name).
Red Stripe Jamaican Lager — Guiness Brewing Worldwide, now known as Diageo.
Rolling Rock Extra Pale — Anheuser-Busch which is owned by the Belgian company InBev.
Coors —The Canadian company Molson Coors Brewing Company, which was created in 2005.
Dos Equis Special Lager — Not Mexican! Heineken, which brews Amstel and other beers, controls of Femsa’s key export brands, including Dos Equis, Tecate and Sol.
Miller Genuine Draft — Ditto the South African company above.
Labatt Blue — Not Canadian! Labatt was purchased by Belgian brewer Interbrew and is now part of InBev.
So enjoy your “American” beer!
I’ll stick with local product.
And here a a couple of this week’s suggestions.
Brownhoist Nut Brown Ale
Tri-City Brewing Company
By way of disclosure, (and every regular reader should know by now!), I am a fan of the American Brown Ale brews.
Brownhoist is a nice rich brown when poured. There is a thick, thick layer of foam which forms rapidly and stays around a good while — a bit too long in fact. The carbonation in this brown is a touch too enthusiastic for my taste. It actually takes a number of pours to finally get the bottle emptied.
Truth be known, sometimes the hyper-heads formed while pouring beers may be an anomaly. I don’t know if this was the case, but there was a lot of foam and it took a while before the sampling could actually begin. When it did, it was by-and-large a pleasure. I found Brownhoist to actually be a mild and somewhat muted beer. There were no overwhelming scents, no strong aromas. Rather, the dark maltiness carried just a touch of sweetness with gentle hints of chocolate and a touch of coffee. There is a inviting background scent of nuttiness which really suits the name of this offering.
At first wash, there is an excellent blend of deeply flavored roasted malts, a ripple of sweetness and a tease of the chocolate that was more evident in the scenting than in the tasting.
There is a mellow mix of nuttiness and chocolate that really blends well while not being demanding of the senses.
Sadly, (for me, anyway), there was a bite of tinny bitterness at the finish — a metallic taste. This doesn’t show up front. The tinniness kinda pops up at the swallow — at the end.
I’ve had this happen in other brews, and wonder if it isn’t something in the bottling process more than in the brewing? Or ...it may have sat on the shelf too long.
It’s something of a pity considering this was a very nice, flavorful and moderately bodied beer that I enjoyed ... until the tinfoil-esque bite at the end. I hope this is a oddity — not the usual course for this brown ale.
It really is very tasty, but the hyper-foaming at the front end, and the metallic pinch at the finish diminished the experience.
Try this brew, but be mindful of the potential shortcomings. The Tri-City team are turning out some nice beers. Hopefully this one settles down ‘cause it’s hard for me to turn down a brown ale.
Founders Black IPA
Founders Brewing Company
The Founders team have done it once again. Their Black IPA is a winner, although not nearly as IPA-esque as some might expect.
This brew pours black with a light brown head of foam. There isn’t too much “head,” so take advantage of it while you can.
At first whiff, there is a wonderful blast of a somewhat outdoorsy citrus and just enough of the malted sweetness to catch your attention. The hops carry a mildly pine-like smell which creates the outdoors scent.
This IPA really doesn’t come across as half as hoppy as some might anticipate.
More of the hops do show up in the first wash, although the taste does testify to the nose and vice versa.
This is a very well balanced black ale. The hops are very, very well complemented by the excellent malt list.
I would be hard pressed to write that this tastes like anything close to a standard IPA. There is much more emphasis on the malts than on the hops.
For me, that’s a good thing!
For the color that Black IPA poured, I would have expected a heavier beer. Not so.
There is a very inviting mouth-feel — smooth but not thick or creamy.
This is really a good example of why explorers shouldn’t rush to judgment simply on the basis of color, or perceived texture.
This IPA is not as bitter as some might expect from an IPA, but at the same time it isn’t as malty as one might anticipate from the visual exploration.
All-in-all, a very pleasing and well-rounded brew, and another feature in the Founders’ cap.