Weve come a long way.
Clay Risen (an American living in Berlin) recently published some thoughts on the current state of beer culture in America vs. Germany. The key excerpt:
Unlike England or Germany, America has no real beer tradition of its own. What is American beer? Its everything and nothing. English ale and Czech pils are both accepted. Americans import their styles, and so beer is not a national symbol or a part of its culinary patriotism. Youd never find a German brewery that makes a Belgian beer: The German beer culture is too proud of itself. In contrast, in America such internationalism is the ideal.
This is a critical point to understand. Germans brew German beer. Belgians brew Belgian beer. The English brew English beer. Americans brew German, Belgian and English beer, and they invent new styles with remarkable frequency. Some European brewers have become so inspired by American craft beer that they are experimenting in ways they havent tried in hundreds of years of brewing, but thats still a nascent movement.
You, a beer drinker living in the United States of America, are lucky enough to live in the best country in the world for variety and creativity in brewing. I do admire the Germans proud lager brewing heritage, and I sympathize with the desire among that countrys brewers to live up to that tradition. However, despite their greatness, there is only so far you can take a helles or a doppelbock.
Here in the U.S. beer is limited only by the imagination of our brewers. Americans invented the double IPA. Our brewers invented the India brown ale. And the black IPA. And the American wild ale, the imperial pilsner, the wheat wine, the coffee stout and many more.
And so when you come to the Free The Hops Oktoberfest on Saturday, Sept, 19, not only will you be able to enjoy some of the finest German-brewed beer imported to the U.S., you will be able to taste many American-brewed beers that emulate and/or surpass German beer. There will be American craft examples of Märzens and hefeweizens (among others), as well as new creations you could never find in Germany. Such as Good People Brewing Companys Belgi-Weizen Strong Ale, based on a Belgian strong ale, but fermented with both German hefeweizen yeast and Belgian yeast. Here in Birmingham, Ala., our own local craft brewer is living out the emerging tradition of creativity and boldness in blazing new trails in the world of brewing beer.
For tickets and more details on Saturdays event, go to freethehops.org/oktoberfest.