Can American beer make it in Germany?

183 posts in this topic

Hello All! I've read with great interest all the posts. I thought I'd ring in and respond to some of the things said, and perhaps hopefully add some perspective. At any rate, I appreciate the conversation and the chance to interact!

 

* At a couple points it was suggested that I was personally holding up a certain international fizzy yellow German brand beer as a reference, or that I am a drinker of said beer, or...well, not sure really. I can set the record straight. I'm pretty sure that the last time I touched that brand of fizzy yellow beer was in the 1980's (which was pretty much the last time I partook in any fizzy yellow beer).

 

* Someone seemed to suggest that most of our beers are not Reinheitsgebot. Actually, most are brewed according to Reinheitsgebot. That being said, we do not feel beholden to Reinheitsgebot, and have often veered from its constraints (most notably with the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series, and some of our Collaboration efforts). At Stone, we feel that if the non-Reinheitsgebot ingredient is used to enhance or otherwise increase the flavor profile, we'll go there. Happily. We don't use adjuncts in order to simplify the flavor however...principally because we don't care particularly much for simple beer.

 

* A poster suggested that we'd picked France. Not so at all. France is simply one of the countries that has responded to our RFP. It was also suggested that we act like know-it-alls. Heh. Not the case at all my friend! We have so much to learn that, fortunately, this world of beer still hold great mystery and great challenge. I'm quite sure that will be the case to the day I die. We do however feel that we know what it is to be Stone Brewing quite well. Yes, we have confidence in what we do. That can be sometimes misinterpreted because I once named a beer Arrogant Bastard Ale back in 1997. Sheesh. That's a bit too broad of a paintbrush. Arrogant Bastard Ale is simply one beer out of more than 15 we'll brew this year. Heck, I've said "Hello" jovially and overheard someone whisper to another "Did you hear that? How arrogant!" Too funny.

 

* Beer Wars. Yes, please do check it out as one poster suggested...it's a great movie to help understand where the American beer market is at these days. Very insightful.

 

* Please also take four minutes and check out the I Am A Craft Brewer http://iamacraftbrewer.com/index2.html video that I created with 35 of my craft brewing brothers and sisters a little over a year ago. It gives a great glimpse into the beauty of the craft brewing movement here in the US.

 

All in all, I am tremendously proud to be part of the incredible craft brewing culture we have here in the US. We've gone from 45 breweries in the US in the late 1970's to over 1500 today. The variety and quality of beer is astounding, and surpasses any other country on the planet (this is not meant to be braggadocio, but just a simple fact). Other countries certainly have the quality, but cannot match the sheer variety. That's OK, as it's not meant to be a contest, and we don't aim to treat it that way.

 

When, and ultimately if, we actually start up a brewery in Europe, we do not intend to try and make some huge splash. We intend to start small, and grow naturally. In the US we've never advertised our beer or discounted our beer in our entire 14 years. We've just grown from making tasty beers, and (possibly) communicating in engaging ways.

 

As for who will buy our beers, and in which countries...well, that's really up to each individual. I talk a little about the throngs of Europeans that want our beers in the second half of this little vid here:

There are those who would like to enjoy our beers, and those are the folks we make it for (and we're among 'em!). For those that don't want our beers for taste reasons, cultural reasons, abv reasons, nationalism / jingoism reasons, no problem. Ultimately, it's about choice. We DO hope that there's enough folks out there that will want to buy our beer to make the model work, but we're not expecting crowds to beat down our door on day one. We know we'll have to earn our way into people's refrigerators and pint (ahem...1/2 litre) glasses!

 

At any rate, I appreciate all the thoughts and perspectives. Maybe we'll get to share a great beer someday, be it a tasty traditional offering from a great European brewery, a fantastic non-traditional beer from an upstart European brewery that's going their own way, or just maybe, one from my brewery: Stone.

 

Cheers,

 

Greg Koch, CEO & co-founder

Stone Brewing Co.

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@Punchbear - regarding Beer Wars, thanks for posting that. Never heard of the film before. Good viewing.

 

 

Nae bodder. Was given to me by a mate who is a serious homebrewer, man who can concoct a mean (not average) Duvel, just minus the pear concentrate in the last few weeks. He's a more than competent lifer in a well established company and is contemplating going fulltime making beer. He's really bloody good mind, his IPA and Weissbiers have been exceptional. Kept us out of the pub for a few months anyways. 6 yoyos for a glass of InBev Industrial Soup or a gently crafted pint of convenience, charm and choice? Rhetorical questions never answered themselves so bedamnably tastily.

 

 

 

Previous poster, if you're the real deal, then thank you very much for taking the time and effort to respond and take the time to come to this wee forum to give an insiders perspective. You're gonna get stick and carrots here but the best of luck to ye, may you experience the best this gaff has to offer :)

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I once named a beer Arrogant Bastard Ale back in 1997.

 

Hats off to you, sir. We initially bought Arrogant Bastard Ale ONLY because of the name! LOL. My German husband thought it was genius (and we also liked the beer!). Keep up the good work. And I'm not only saying that as a San Diegan... after more time spent up north, Anchor Brewery is of course my favorite. :)

post-33917-12793418285747_thumb.jpg

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Wow, thank you for clarifying some points Mr. Koch and for taking the time to post. You should also check out these threads: Germany's renascent beer scene? and An obituary for Germany's dying beer scene for more Toytown feedback. Good luck in Germany... :)

 

It is amazing to me how many people are still misguided about the current state of US beer. Especially Germans. There is more to US beer than Bud/Miller/Coors! I find that US craft beer culture is more vibrant, exciting, and innovational than conservative German beer culture. On the other hand I find German beer culture to be more traditional, honest, well grounded, and balanced. US craft beers are generally more assertive and flavorful (see 010 Zymurgy Best Beers In America Poll) while German beers are more balanced, harmonious, and sessionable. I bet someone could offer societal reasons for this as well. And economics. If you're going to plop down $9 for a premium six pack (355ml beers) then you probably expect more than a subtle or neutral flavor. Germans grow up with beer, and it is not so special. The prevalent culture (at least until someone like Stone tries to change it), is that beer is a staple - a drink to be had with your evening Brotzeit and shared with family. Lager is king in Germany, while it is Ale who reigns in the US. Lagers are more about subtlety - quote:

 

"Making light lager beer is like going to the beach in a thong. You better have all your parts in place or it's going to be ugly." --Tom Dargan, brewer for Gordon Biersch

 

Going to the beach as an IPA, well I'd rather not visualize that one.

 

I believe the future of beer in Germany is good. Lager will not go away (Gott sei Dank!), can you imagine drinking 4 Maß of IPA at Oktoberfest? :blink: But hopefully we'll also be able to buy locally made Pale Ale's, Porters, Stouts, Brown Ales, Imperial lineage beers and the like. At a decent price...

 

 

 

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Many of the people to whom i have recommended it balk until i mention that the brewery was started by one of the Habsburgs and functioned as the royal brewery for a time. After that, they can feel comfortable enjoying it for what it is without feeling some silly sense of disloyalty toward German beer.

 

 

Just don't tell them that the last Habsburg owner was killed by the Nazis because when they came during the war, he said he was Polish. :)

 

One way or the other they are now owned by Heineken.

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For me it's hard to imagine that American beer could be very successfull in Germany. Germans tend to pride themselves that they got the best beer in the world. Some foreigin brands like Guiness and Foster's are tolerated but I'm not shure that they got a high marked share here.

Another thing is that there is a big local patriotism in Germany, people like to drink the beer that is brewed in their home-region,with which they grew up.

That's why I think that article the OP posted is pretty bs. It's hard to find anyone here who believes Beck's is the best beer, as long as they are not from Bremen. It's a good beer but certainly not the best. Anyways I think a lot of people would still prefer it over Stone (or whatever it's called) if they had a choice. At least I would.

Or even extremer: I think I would rather drink a Hansa, Oettinger or Sternburg than a Stone.

 

But that's just my opinion. Because I like beer that actually tastes like (German) beer. But if there is a possible way to raise the variety I'm fine with that, I just can't picture people going to gas stations to buy a sixpack Stone. But you never know...

 

I have to admit that I'm very conservative if it comes to beer, probably because of my Germaness. I just can't imagine an American beer to be good. Sorry!

On the other hand if I had to choose between the cheapest American whiskey and a German whiskey (if a thing like this would exist) I would of course choose the American one.

"Schuster bleib bei deinen Leisten..."

 

Nevertheless I think the variety in American liquor stores and bars is great. I liked it very much when I was there because that way I could avoid American beer most of the time. ;)

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All in all, I am tremendously proud to be part of the incredible craft brewing culture we have here in the US. We've gone from 45 breweries in the US in the late 1970's to over 1500 today. The variety and quality of beer is astounding, and surpasses any other country on the planet (this is not meant to be braggadocio, but just a simple fact). Other countries certainly have the quality, but cannot match the sheer variety. That's OK, as it's not meant to be a contest, and we don't aim to treat it that way.

 

 

 

Not sure that falls under the 'fact' category but it is fantastic to see how good and varied beer is being brewed in the US. Long may it continue.

 

In the UK a group called CAMRA was highly important in the renaissance of beer over the last 25 years. Is there such a group in the US? Their beer festivals are a scream, though tend to end up rather messy at the end. ;)

 

Camra , UK web site

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Hello All! I've read with great interest all the posts. I thought I'd ring in and respond to some of the things said, and perhaps hopefully add some perspective. At any rate, I appreciate the conversation and the chance to interact!

 

* At a couple points it was suggested that I was personally holding up a certain international fizzy yellow German brand beer as a reference, or that I am a drinker of said beer, or...well, not sure really. I can set the record straight. I'm pretty sure that the last time I touched that brand of fizzy yellow beer was in the 1980's (which was pretty much the last time I partook in any fizzy yellow beer).

 

* Someone seemed to suggest that most of our beers are not Reinheitsgebot. Actually, most are brewed according to Reinheitsgebot. That being said, we do not feel beholden to Reinheitsgebot, and have often veered from its constraints (most notably with the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series, and some of our Collaboration efforts). At Stone, we feel that if the non-Reinheitsgebot ingredient is used to enhance or otherwise increase the flavor profile, we'll go there. Happily. We don't use adjuncts in order to simplify the flavor however...principally because we don't care particularly much for simple beer.

 

* A poster suggested that we'd picked France. Not so at all. France is simply one of the countries that has responded to our RFP. It was also suggested that we act like know-it-alls. Heh. Not the case at all my friend! We have so much to learn that, fortunately, this world of beer still hold great mystery and great challenge. I'm quite sure that will be the case to the day I die. We do however feel that we know what it is to be Stone Brewing quite well. Yes, we have confidence in what we do. That can be sometimes misinterpreted because I once named a beer Arrogant Bastard Ale back in 1997. Sheesh. That's a bit too broad of a paintbrush. Arrogant Bastard Ale is simply one beer out of more than 15 we'll brew this year. Heck, I've said "Hello" jovially and overheard someone whisper to another "Did you hear that? How arrogant!" Too funny.

 

* Beer Wars. Yes, please do check it out as one poster suggested...it's a great movie to help understand where the American beer market is at these days. Very insightful.

 

* Please also take four minutes and check out the I Am A Craft Brewer http://iamacraftbrewer.com/index2.html video that I created with 35 of my craft brewing brothers and sisters a little over a year ago. It gives a great glimpse into the beauty of the craft brewing movement here in the US.

 

All in all, I am tremendously proud to be part of the incredible craft brewing culture we have here in the US. We've gone from 45 breweries in the US in the late 1970's to over 1500 today. The variety and quality of beer is astounding, and surpasses any other country on the planet (this is not meant to be braggadocio, but just a simple fact). Other countries certainly have the quality, but cannot match the sheer variety. That's OK, as it's not meant to be a contest, and we don't aim to treat it that way.

 

When, and ultimately if, we actually start up a brewery in Europe, we do not intend to try and make some huge splash. We intend to start small, and grow naturally. In the US we've never advertised our beer or discounted our beer in our entire 14 years. We've just grown from making tasty beers, and (possibly) communicating in engaging ways.

 

As for who will buy our beers, and in which countries...well, that's really up to each individual. I talk a little about the throngs of Europeans that want our beers in the second half of this little vid here:

There are those who would like to enjoy our beers, and those are the folks we make it for (and we're among 'em!). For those that don't want our beers for taste reasons, cultural reasons, abv reasons, nationalism / jingoism reasons, no problem. Ultimately, it's about choice. We DO hope that there's enough folks out there that will want to buy our beer to make the model work, but we're not expecting crowds to beat down our door on day one. We know we'll have to earn our way into people's refrigerators and pint (ahem...1/2 litre) glasses!

 

At any rate, I appreciate all the thoughts and perspectives. Maybe we'll get to share a great beer someday, be it a tasty traditional offering from a great European brewery, a fantastic non-traditional beer from an upstart European brewery that's going their own way, or just maybe, one from my brewery: Stone.

 

Cheers,

 

Greg Koch, CEO & co-founder

Stone Brewing Co.

 

 

Kudos on you guys for going for it. I have to admit I'm very happy when I can get my hands on one of your ales. I think you were talking about my post implying that you didn't brew to the Reinheitsgebot, I wasn't actually implying anything. I have no idea if you guys use stabilisers or what types, if any, clarifiers you use. The point I was trying to make is if something is brewed to the Reinheitsgebot, and you make germans aware of this they will be much more open to try and appreciate the beer. Anything that isn't, or isn't explicitly, as in declared to be brewed to the Reinheitsgebot, will not be easily trusted by the Germans.

 

As you are probably aware the Reinheitsgebot has gotten very complicated in the last little bit, it is no longer a case of simply using malt, hops and water, but also how you use them. The Reinheitsgebot was turned into the Biersteuergesetz which linked the ingredients with tax law, and in 1993 it became the Vorläufiges Biergesetz and is now even more complicated with European law. People at Weihenstephan and breweries with lawyers are combing through the law trying to figure out what is actually allowed and what is not. This has led to some very silly things such as bottled radler (shandy) being made with diet lemonade, because the invert sugar won't be taxed as extract, while normal sugar will.

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Lager is king in Germany, while it is Ale who reigns in the US. Lagers are more about subtlety - quote:

 

 

How do you get that Ale reigns in the US, the vast majority of US beer sales are lager as well.

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How do you get that Ale reigns in the US, the vast majority of US beer sales are lager as well.

 

 

The talk in this thread is about American Craft Beer. Craft Beer is a definition put out by the American Brewer's Association. Not all beer brewed in the US is considered Craft Beer. Here is the official definition:

 

"An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer." "Over 1,500 breweries are responsible for the beer brands made in the US with more than 90% of these fitting the small and independent craft brewer definition. These craft breweries have had many successes and challenges, but they could not have developed the reputation as producers of the world's best beer without the support of beer lovers globally."

 

As of 2009 US craft brewers represented a mere 7% of the overall beer sales in the US. The majority of breweries making Craft Beer produce Ales. You should really check out the "I am a craft brewer" link Stone posted.

 

 

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I have to admit that I'm very conservative if it comes to beer, probably because of my Germaness. I just can't imagine an American beer to be good. Sorry!

 

This neatly sums up why Stones wouldn't work in Germany. Whereas in Britain and America 90% of the population have no ability to judge flavour and so buy whatever the adverts or their friends tell them to, in Germany that figure is 99.9%. Taught from an early age that American beer is awful, they will refuse to even try it.

 

Now if you brewed that identical beer in Germany with a German-sounding brewery name, name it after one of the handful of existing categories ("Pils" seems to cover a pretty broad spectrum), and did some trendy marketing, then you've got a winner. Take Trumer Pils as an example: an excellent beer with excellent marketing. You now see it all over the place. OK, this is Austria and the Austrians are somewhat more open-minded than the Hermanns, but it shows that it can be done.

 

But with American branding, I'm afraid it's impossible. With 90% of Americans unaware of the great beer being brewed in America, trying to educate the Germans will be even less successful.

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Taught from an early age that American beer is awful, they will refuse to even try it.

 

Gee, how very open-minded. [/sarcasm]

 

For those of you who love craft beer, if you are ever in San Francisco, please do visit Mad Dog in the Fog, on Haight St. They have an incredible selection of beers on tap.

 

"Ever heard of Old Peculiar or Boddington's? Well, if you're English you probably have. Mad Dog serves up mad beers from England and all over the world. Football (aka Soccer) games can be seen here with a huge crowd cheering on their favorite team. Trivia games are played every Monday & Thursday nights. There's also a back garden just in case you want to get some fresh air."

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Boddingtons is anything but a craft beer, in fact it's InBev, another mass-produced industrial soup sold as beer.

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LOL John... my colleague from Liverpool (who will marry my old roomie and pal from Italy) used to go there ALL the time. It's a great place... as long as you are not afraid of pitbulls and tattoos.

 

@PB, I am no expert on English beer. I used to go to MDitF for the California brewed craft beers, as many were on tap. I now go to one of the oldest microbreweries in CA, as the grub is also quite good. and no pitbulls

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No worries,as long as the pitbulls and tattoes don´t go outside to get some fresh air at the same time as me!

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mlovett: you deliberately did the last three words small because you know I still can´t do them! Growl!!! :D

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It's funny. Back in the day Boddingtons was THE beer around where I lived. Still brewed at the Strangeways Brewery and consistently a great pint. Then commercialisation took over and the wheels fell off from a quality point of view. That it's still hugely successful is testimony to the legacy of Strangeways and the power of marketing.

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The answer is simply no. The Germans brew the best beer in the world, why should they drink anything else?

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