On America's Influence
“I saw all these American beers and it was a new beer world for me. When I started in the brewing [industry], people used to say, ‘Oh, the Americans are just like chemists and pharmacists. There are only a few breweries; it’s terrible beer.’ But I remember I was very impressed with the beers of Sierra Nevada. Very, very nice beers. That’s when I found Cascade hops, and I thought it should be easy to match the American citrusy Cascade hops with Bavarian-style weissbier. So we started to brew Edel-Weisse with them.”A little later he added:
“Five years ago when we started this transatlantic project [Hopfen-Weisse, with Brooklyn Brewing] I would say nobody was very interested in different beer styles, in American beer and Belgian beer. But now, more and more people talk about beer, they like to taste different beer styles, and they’re really interested in beers. For us, it’s a very interesting new movement.”And then a little later, this, which was kind of shocking:
"Some American versions of classic beer styles are more interesting than the European originals. Marzen? I found exciting American marzens that are more interesting than European originals. Every two years I go to the US for judging in the World Beer Cup. Mostly I had the Bavarian dunkles and marzen and German-style lager. And then, when I see the results, I am wondering because the winners are American breweries."Obviously, influences ricochet around the planet and it's hard to ignore the fact that Americans are basically brewing European beer styles. Americans constantly tap the riches of foreign countries to enrich our own culture--and food and beverage have always been ground zero for reappropriation. (In the case of the dunkles Hans-Peter judged, you could say we were just trying to out-Bavaria the Bavarians.) But it's also not true to say that all the influence is going only one direction, anymore. Even when we're talking about Germany.
He looked slightly exasperated after he said this, and I said, "but you were the judge!" and he laughed. It prompted him to tell the story of an occasion when he got in a discussion at the judging table with some American judges about what the qualities of a Bavarian dunkles should be. "And the winner of the discussion was me. And the result, the gold and silver medals went to American breweries."