Steve is Back

It has been a while since I posted, between planning a wedding, getting married, planning a honeymoon and travelling for a month I have been a bit swamped.

So, before I get back to the reviews I wanted to write a brief post about my thoughts on North American vs European brewing.

Both cultures have their pros and cons, after all nothing is perfect, and I think both sides of the Atlantic could learn from each other.  In North America we have a very innovative culture within craft brewing and an stagnant, boring culture within macrobrewing.  I will never be bored with beer in North America because of the constant experimentation, there will always be a new ingredient, technique or style coming out.  I have my favourites and trying new beers is always fun (it’s why I’m on the blog), and we tend to deify the creative brewer, the adventurous brewer, the one willing to try something because it sounds like fun.  However, one of the failings here is our macrobrews.  As a craft beer snob I know it is taboo to say there are positive sides to macrobrew but there are; being able to find a favourite beer wherever you go has advantages, but our macros are all bland, adjunct-filled water with no interest.  I have many beloved craft beers but if I go out to dinner I cannot always find them and I often skip beer with my meal instead of ordering the Molson on tap.

In contrast, Europe has relatively few innovative craft breweries but they have a good, solid base of tasty macros.  German macrobreweries like Paulaner or Augustiner make pleasant, falvourful and smooth lagers and pilsners that I was happy to order with my meals or to sit on a patio and watch the traffic go by. What I really want here at home is an easily available macro I can get nearly anywhere that I know will be refreshing and flavour up for when I just want a simple pleasure.

These are my impressions of North American and European brewing. I know there are exceptions to both and I do not think either culture is bad, they both just have something different to offer and both could learn a little from the other.

2 comments on “Steve is Back

  1. Frank_Z says:

    Glad you are mentioning Augustiner, the oldest independent brewery in Munich. There is so much I like about them: They are the only beer at the Oktoberfest that is still served from wooden barrels, they still use the old classic short/fat bottles and most important they aren’t doing any tv/radio/print advertising. Despite that their best selling beer, the Helles (a lager), became more popular not only in Munich and is now readily available in vast areas of southern Germany.

    Paulaner is famous for their good Weissbier (hefeweizen). It is just weird that it is being sold here in 0.33l bottels and not the most common 0.5 l bottles that hefeweizen usually comes in. In one of their TV ads they make a bit fun of asian tourists.

    What I don’t like about Germany is that so many small/medium size local breweries closed. Sometimes they are bought up by macros which brew the brand in their big plants somewhere else. And by small I mean most often bigger than the size of microbreweries here. They usually had anautomated bottle washing, bottling, packing and palletizing line.
    My hometown’s brewery closed in 1986 and all the equipment was sold to China for 1 million marks. 2 other breweries 10 km up the valley closed in 1992 and 2002. One of them closed after 3 of the 4 proprietors were death and the last remaining one decided not to continue, the other one that closed earlier couldn’t afford the switch to the new slim/tall standard bottles, had their sales take a huge hit and went bankrupt. I remember a brewery tour there when I was about 10 years old, it was fascinating to walk between the open fermenters and see the bottling line, I found some nice pictures of them on a page that lists many actual and former breweries in the South-West:
    Now it is mostly macros controlled by international conglomerates and brew pubs, not so many intermediate size independent breweries are left.

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