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American Beer Doesn't Suck Anymore


In the year 1900, there were at least 1,816 breweries in the United States. By 1980, there were only 44 due to the effects of prohibition and larger brewers eating up smaller ones during the decades following prohibition. These 44 breweries included companies like Miller, Coors, Anheuser-Busch and other companies making cheap American lagers. What has happened in the last 25 years is nothing short of amazing - The number of American breweries has gone from 44 brewers to nearly 2,000 during this short span. While the old macrobrewers continue to dominate the market, the majority of this growth in the last couple of decades has been in the microbrew/craft beer arena.

Yet, the common misconceptions and myths about American beer continue, and so I must take it upon myself to dispell these antiquated notions. In order to do this, I have collected a grab-bag of quotes from various internet sites, blogs and forums which I will use to prove that the world (including most Americans) have their heads completely up their asses when it comes to the subject of American beer. Let's get started.

"Most the world would say that American beer sucks (and I would have to agree with them)."

The first part of this comment is probably true, and 25 years ago those who believed that American beer sucked would have been right. The 2nd part of the statement just shows this person's ignorance. The problem is that the rest of the world has no idea that there has been a massive beer revolution in many parts of the country. It's time to wake up from your slumber and see what has happened.

"American beer comes in two flavors. Water and bitter ass."

It is apparent that this person's tongue can only taste 2 flavors and they need to educate their palate. Small American breweries are cranking out quality ales of every style you can think of and I challenge you to find another country that has as much variety in locally brewed brands and styles to choose from.

"Yeah, American and even Canadian beer sucks. I'll take some ale over that stuff any day."

Even Canadian beer? Wow, this person is lucky that they are funny. Hopefully they can afford a trip to Europe to get some ale, because we don't have that here. Duh!

"Sure, Europe has its share of bad beer too, but even good American Beer is bad Bier."

This was posted by an English person that probably visited a friend in the U.S. While at the store shopping for beer, he probably reached for a half-rack of Old Milwaukee, but was saved by his friend who told him to get the good stuff - Milwaukee's Best. Let's not forget that Europe has its share of crappy mass produced lagers. I don't care what anybody says, Heineken is one of the nastiest beers on earth. I would gladly take the watery nothingness taste of a Coors over the taste of dirty gym socks wrapped in a week old diaper. And off the top of my head, Stella Artois, Grolsch, Harp, Becks, et al. aren't particulary great beers either.

"I live in the United States and think American beer sucks."

This person most likely lives in Shitsville, Iowa or Nothinggoodhere, Oklahoma. There are certainly parts of the country that don't have much in the way of good beer. People that live in these places should either move or shut their beer hole.

"it is a well known fact that American beer is for lightweights."

This is as intelligent as someone saying "All English people are dumb". If he were Belgian, then he would be absolutely correct. Unfortunately, our limey friend is quite mistaken on this point, especially considering that, at the time of this writing, the strongest beer in the world is made by Boston Beer Company, and previously the title went to Hair of the Dog Brewing in Portland, Oregon.

On a recent trip to England my wife spent days and nights in the pubs drinking as the locals do. Here is what they were drinking:
  • Boddingtons - 3.8%
  • Youngs Dirty Dicks Ale - 4.1%
  • Fullers London Pride - 4.7%
  • John Smiths Extra Smooth - 4%
  • Greene King Abbot Ale - 5%
Wow, that is intimidating! Let's take a look at the American beers I have had during the last few days:
  • Widmer Hefeweizen - 4.7%
  • Lost Coast 8-Ball Stout - 5%
  • MacTarnahans Mac Frost Winter Ale - 6%
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale - 6.6%
  • Deschutes Jubelale - 6.7%
Or better yet, let's take a look at some of the most popular American macrobrews.
  • Busch - 4.6%
  • Miller Genuine Draft - 4.7%
  • Budweiser - 5%
  • Coors Original - 5%
The numbers speak for themselves and I rest my case. My wife drank the English chaps she hung out with under the table and didn't even get into any bar brawls while doing it. Furthermore, there are a lot of English session beers that are below 4% in alcohol content. In America, we don't drink anything lower than 4% unless you live in Utah, and we think those people are really weird.

"And the funny thing is, Europeans can drink their beers at room temperature because American beers sucks so bad it has to be cold because it lacks taste!"

This comment is so stupid it should win the beer equivalent of a Darwin Award. First of all, no beer is served at room temperature which is 70-72 degrees - any beer would just be awful at this temperature. While the serving temperature varies depending on style, generally speaking ales are served between 45-60 degrees (also known as cellar temperature) and lagers are served at colder temperatures. American macrobrews are served very cold to hide the taste, not because they don't have one. For the most part, American ales should be served at the same temperatures as their European equivalents. You should also remember that the rest of the world hasn't ramped up on this newfangled concept known as "refridgeration" like the U.S. has.

Final Thoughts
American brewers have not only learned to master traditional styles, they have invented many of their own including American Pale Ale, American Strong Ale, Imperial IPA, California Common, and Blonde Ale. There are some styles which American brewers tend not to do as well as their European counterparts such as German Hefeweizens, Abbey Dubbels and Tripels, and Czech Pilsners. You should also note that American beers tend to be hoppier than European varieties, but our hops are delicious so it is best that you just educate your palate and learn to love it. If you have tried American beer and you still think it sucks, then you probably haven't tried the right ones. While there are too many good brewers to list them all, try some beers from the following brewers and then eat your words.

Hair of the Dog, Bridgeport Brewing, Rogue Ales, Deschutes Brewery, Lagunitas Brewing, Stone Brewing, Alesmith, Victory Brewing, Allagash, Brewery Ommegang, New Belgium Brewing, Goose Island Beer Company, Big Sky Brewing, Dogfish Head, Boston Beer Company, Anchor Brewing.

If after all of this, you still hate American beer, then you are a lost cause. But before you take jabs at our beer first think about any country in the South Pacific, any country in Africa, any country in the Middle East, any country in South America, and most of the countries in Asia. We are certain that you can find a more deserving target for your disdain.

Cheers!

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