My recent six-week voyage to the USA earlier this year confirmed that the USA is a craft beer lover’s heaven. Here’s five things that I loved about beer in the USA:
1. The availability of good beer
Unlike Australia, you don’t have to be in the know to drink well. Most bars stock a good range, as do supermarkets and convenience stores, and it doesn’t take much effort to find a microbrewery or brewpub either (in Portland they’re pretty much everywhere). Even in regions that aren’t known for their craft beer prowess, like Texas & Louisiana, I stumbled across great bars with a wide range of great both local and interstate craft beers (Yeehaw to that!).
I was particularly impressed that I was able to buy a Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA at an NBA game in Boston. Sure, it was overpriced like any sports stadium drink, but I was more than happy to pay for this delicious beer, knowing I would have to pay the same back home at the footy for that cat’s piss they call Carlton Draught!2. The price of good beer
$10 for a 6-pack of really good craft beer. It hurts just to think about it. Let’s move on before I tear up.
3. Creative brewers
For those who like their beers complex and unique, the USA craft beer scene is on another level. The Americans have pushed the boundaries further than ever before, creating new styles, adding crazy ingredients, brewing bigger stronger beers with bigger bolder tastes (yet still amazingly drinkable). I was amazed to find a microbrewery in Portland that brews barrel-aged sour beers…exclusively! That’s all they do!
If there’s one area where the Australian craft beer scene has more room for improvement than any other, it’s creativity. While a select few breweries have shown that they’ve ‘got it’ (Bridge Road and Feral immediately spring to mind), and others have replicated interesting beers from elsewhere, there are too many who are content to produce a standard range in a standard way.
I think Moon Dog has tried to fill this gap in the market with ‘out-there’ beers, but they haven’t yet achieved anywhere near the consistency of quality of the American breweries.
3. The quality of the beer
There is a reason 68 of the Top 100 Breweries on RateBeer are American. Not only do their beers push boundaries, but they are also really really good. On the whole, they do the basic styles well – balanced and flavourful, and even the most extreme styles of beer they brew are often dangerously drinkable.
4. Innovation in beer
They are not only creative with the beer itself but also in how they sell, promote and distribute beer. The take-away beer vessel, the Growler, is one success that has been replicated here in Oz. Craft beer in cans is another big thing over there, which is sure to take off in Australia eventually you would think.
5. The number of different beers available
There’s just a huge number of great beers to try. For instance, at the Sunset Grill in Boston they had 116 beers on tap!!!
I counted 157 different beers sampled in the six weeks I was there and I felt like I only scratched the surface. I don’t know how someone could fail the ‘different beer every day, for a year’ test in the US, for me, the challenge would be not to drink a new beer every day.