How America's Craft Movement Might Make It The World's Best Beer Country
I'll admit it: I'm a beer snob. I'm that person who says stuff like, “I prefer a more full-bodied stout.” People just respond to me with rolled eyes.
Four years ago, I moved from Boston to Hamburg, Germany. I thought I would be in beer heaven. Instead, I was faced with a lot of people who said things like, “America has the worst beer,” and “I only drink pilsners and Hefeweizen beer.”
I'm a pretty calm person, but nothing gets me going faster than people talking badly about American beer culture. In fact, I'm shaking right now just thinking about it.
One year in Germany, I invited some friends over for a beer tasting and rating for my birthday. I bought about 15 different varieties of beer from all over the world. I was excited to share some quality craft beers with my guests, and I naively believed they would be blown away by the different tastes. Instead, I was disappointed.
The first beer we tried was an IPA. They got disgusted looks on their faces and said, “This isn't real beer.” To this, I spouted off some heated insults about their watery pilsners. Things continued in a similar fashion for the rest of the evening. At the end of the night, we tallied up our beer ratings. Of course, the two mainstream pilsners I included in the tasting were the winners.
Not all German beers are bad. Just like in the US, there are mainstream beers, but there are also some really great small breweries. The thing is, most Germans I met didn't seem to know much about these amazing small breweries. It seemed to me they had grown up believing they lived in a superior beer country. Therefore, most of them had never felt the need to give the actual good stuff a chance.
I think beers like IPAs are an acquired taste. If you've always believed your beer is the best, why would you give something that maybe doesn't taste as great at first a chance?
If you are interested in visiting Germany and want to check out the nice, small breweries, I highly recommend going to the small, picturesque city of Bamberg. There are nine amazing breweries there, and the city is also home to smoked beer (which tastes like drinking an alcoholic bacon).
Living in Germany has made me appreciate being from a country that currently has a thriving craft beer culture. I love going back to my home city of Boston and checking out all the new craft breweries that are popping up all over.
I believe strongly in supporting local businesses, and with the rise of craft beer culture, it is possible for small breweries to have substantial success. This probably wouldn't have been possible 20 years ago.
The US is changing its image. It is no longer known as the country of Bud Light. It's now being known as the country of craft. I hope the next time I go to Germany, I get approached by people saying things like, “I absolutely love lagers.”
But in Germany's defense, things are now changing there as well. About two years ago, a great craft beer store with a wide selection of international beers opened in Hamburg. My boyfriend and I frequented the store often, spending way too much money on expensive, imported craft beers.
In its early days, the store was almost always empty. By the time I left Germany two months ago, it was constantly packed with people picking up a wide selection of fabulous beers. I have high hopes that craft beer will become a major worldwide movement.
So, happy National Beer Day to a country that makes me proud. Keep on supporting the little guy and drinking those killer brews. I'm going to drink my $3 bottle of Samuel Adams that I just bought here in Costa Rica – where I'm living now – and wish I was celebrating with all my fellow beer snob Americans.