This week in beer… Why you might be wrong about American beers

pouring beer

WHEN I chat to people about beer, it still surprises me how little people recognise American beer. Many people associate America with bad beer, beers like Coors lite, Bud lite etc… This perception was developed through the halcyon years up to the 1980’s where, much like Australia, stock standard lagers, devoid of taste or any discernible characteristics flooded the market.

In 1981, just 80 breweries existed in the United States. It wasn’t until the work by Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) in the mid 1980’s as well brew pubs like Manhattan Brewing Co. and Yakima Brewing and Malting Co. that American beer finally began to bounce back. These early craft beer pioneers have now helped the resurgence that now sees well over 3,000 breweries in operation in the United States.

The epicentre of craft beer in the United States is the West Coast but, although a point of conjecture, the hub of craft beer in the United States is probably found in Oregon.

Undoubtedly, residents of California, Colorado and Maine might have a thing or two to say about this. Oregon currently has 173 brewing companies operating within the state, with its largest city Portland, being the city with the most breweries in the world.

I sat down recently with Andy Waters, sales representative with Bridgeport, an Oregon brewery who are celebrating 30 years of service to the craft beer market. It’s interesting to note that iconic Australian craft beer Little Creatures Pale Ale was in fact developed by the doyen of Australian craft beer, Phil Sexton, with a recipe he took back after working at Bridgeport.

Andy Waters sees Australia taking up the American beers more and more. During Canberra craft beer week last year, the RUC (Rugby Union Club) put Bridgeport’s Kingpin (a red ale) and Hop Czar (a hugely hoppy IPA beer) on tap and received great feedback.

Speaking with Marc Grainger of the Transit Bar, he’s excited by the prospect of his bar taking on the American beer market and putting on Bridgeport’s Kingpin and their iconic Pale Ale.

King O’Malleys, in Civic, have also had great success with their American beers. The behemoth Canberra Irish pub, whilst not neglecting their roots, they have faded out some of their green, white and orange for the traditional stars and stripes, pouring Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap, as well as stocking beers by Rogue (of Oregon) and Founders IPA (from Michigan).

Denman cellars in the Chisholm shops continue to impress me. On a recent trip to their location, I ended up with bottles of Stone beer and Dogfish Head brews. And of course, what article about this week in beer…could be complete without a mention of Plonk.

Anthony Young, owner of Plonk, continues to champion the cause of craft beer in Australia, but their range of US beers (including almost every Rogue beer ever made) means an American craft beer journey in Canberra would not be complete without a pit stop here.

So, although I am the first to champion the cause of Australian craft beer, I encourage everyone out there to dip their toes into what sort of ales are coming to Australia from the other side of the Pacific.

What’s impressing me?

  • Cavalier Brewing; A tap takeover is on at The Durham Castle Arms, with their Courage (blond ale), pale ale, their 9% coffee stout and their low alcohol, sour berliner Weiss beer
  • Nathaneal Kennedy; Who is Nathaneal Kennedy? Ok, so I know this is a beer article and all, but I also love my whisky. Check out what this Canberra guy is doing for whisky in Canberra ­

Adrian Moran has been pouring beers for over nine years and runs a weekly podcast devoted to craft beer
Twitter: @ausbeerjourney


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