PIB's Best Beers Are ... American?

The something-annual Portland International Beerfest (PIB) pulls into the North Park Blocks this weekend. (The event must be at least in its tweens--I seem to recall going in the 90s.) For the student and and fan of international beer styles, it's easily the quickest ways to educate oneself about the standards. More than that, it's an opportunity to see how the trend winds are blowing. I first noticed how Northwest hops had begun to inspire European breweries five years ago (Belgians, per usual, got in on the act first). Barrel-aging, collaboration brewing, imperializing--all of these trends have appeared first at PIB.

Well, here's something to consider: America may now have the greatest density of the world's best breweries. Dunno if you call that a "trend" or not, but it's something. Looking through the list of beers (sortable by country), a thought sprang to mind. If I were forced to only drink the beers of one country, which would it be? No contest--the US. Hell, if I were to choose between domestic and all imports combined, the choice wouldn't be easy. This is in no way to denigrate any other country. Offerings from Belgium, in particular, are looking most appetizing. (Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek, Jandrain-Jandrenouille IV Saison, Urthel Hop-It headline a nice list.)

But have a look at some of the Yankee selections and see if your mouth doesn't water:
  • Firestone Walker Parabola and Double Jack
  • Old Lompoc Barrel-Aged Doppelbock
  • Rogue Deschutes Black Butte XXII
  • New Belgium La Folie
  • Double Mountain Devil's Kriek and Molten Lava
  • Cascade Brewing barrel-aged mystery beers
  • Walking Man Parade Belgian Pale
  • Great Divide Chocolate Oak-Aged Yeti
  • Caldera Rose Petal Imperial Golden
We'll never find agreement about "best brewing country," but it's far from absurd to include the US in the conversation. For the first time, I expect about half the beers I sample at PIB will be domestic.