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Would American micro work in Britain, mainland Europe, etc?

Chinon00 Feb 25, 2007 04:48 PM

What American micros have any of you ever seen abroad? I have seen none yet there are more than a handful of imports (often obscure) that are obviously readily available to us here in the States from all around the globe. I was just thinking what would happen if our top micros from the United States were widely available in the UK and Europe? How successful would Lagunitas, Stone, North Coast, Victory, Bell's, etc, fare on the road? This concern came about due to friends from the UK who for some reason think "American" beer includes beers like Corona. I'm really sick of that. I know that the money and influence are with the big brewers but how does one get the smaller pubs abroad to take an interest in genuinely good American beer products?

  1. Jim Dorsch Feb 25, 2007 06:30 PM

    Offhand I can think of at least a couple of US micros that are sold overseas. I believe Anchor is sold in Scandinavia among other places. I recall Brooklyn being exported. And Rogue has been sold in Japan for a long time. I believe DFH's more extreme beers may be sold in England.

    1. c
      Chicago Mike Feb 25, 2007 07:13 PM

      I think they'd be tremendously successful... Especially the great Pale Ales, Barleywines, and Stouts being produced in the US... these are the best beers of their category in the world today, IMO.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chicago Mike
        Jim Dorsch Feb 26, 2007 02:15 AM

        The issue, though, is whether a significant number of overseas consumers would care for such beers, or even if they knew they existed. Without someone to sell the idea, then sell the beers, they would have little impact.

        In some countries (e.g., Germany), beer is losing ground. How would US craft beer fare in such a market? Or would it energize it?

        The Brewers Association has been involved in overseas beer promotion in recent years, to include a presence at a big Slow Foods event, in Italy if I recall. I suppose a group such as Slow Foods would be one that would first embrace such products.

        1. re: Jim Dorsch
          c
          Chicago Mike Feb 28, 2007 12:36 AM

          I think it would do great, really.

          And since it's starting from ZERO the initial penetration would probably be pretty good. And yes I think it would energize the interest in beer, honestly.

          Also it has that value to foreigners of "keeping up with the joneses( the americans"

      2. Josh Feb 25, 2007 07:32 PM

        Brooklyn Brewery's beer is apparently quite popular in Amsterdam and England. Just today at Holiday Wine Cellar, I saw an English Pale Ale that said on the label it had "American aroma hops" added.

        The American styles are making themselves known - there's a French biere de garde called Houblon (French word for hops) which is like a hybrid double IPA tripel. It's very, very good. Brasserie Fantome (from Belgium) makes a hoppy beer called Brise Bonbons that he devised after sampling American IPA.

        So I guess it's fair to say that even if they don't get widely exported, American craft brewing is having an impact overseas.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Josh
          braineater Feb 26, 2007 05:57 PM

          Are you thinking of Houblon Chouffe, the "double-IPA tripel" from Brasserie d'Achouffe? That's essentially a Belgian tripel, but hopped in ways reminiscent of American double-IPA's, using a combination of European and American hop varieties. It's quite good, but I tend to prefer the similarly styled Piraat.

        2. MVNYC Feb 26, 2007 08:12 AM

          I have had Houblon, very good beer. I think good traditional beer is losing alot of ground in Europe as the most popular styles are the Euro lagers like stella, heineken, etc.. as well as imports like Bud. There is however a larger percentage of the population drinking better quality stuff than there is in the states. That said, I think the popularity of any given beer would depend on how different the style is to the local beer as well as the mindset of the beer drinking populace. I am not so sure how a Double IPA would do in the czech Republic for example, or an Imperial Stout would do in Ireland.

          I know Denmark for example gets alot of imported American beers and seems to relly enjoy them. I had a Wintercoat IPA from Denmark on cask at O Briens, once again this is a beer clearly influenced by the American craft beer scene.

          4 Replies
          1. re: MVNYC
            Chinon00 Feb 26, 2007 06:44 PM

            Thanks for your thoughts. I however I'm not sure about your statement that "the popularity of any given beer would depend on how different the style is to the local beer as well as the mindset of the beer drinking populace" and "I am not so sure how a Double IPA would do in the czech Republic for example, or an Imperial Stout would do in Ireland" I would definitely not attempt to challenge Guinness or Beamish in Ireland or any of the well respected Pilsners from Czech Republic with one of our products of the same style. So where I understand that you might want to appeal to their traditional pallet it might get lost in the mix or be seen as imitation. Exporting traditional style may also challenge identity. For example, as good as Victory Prima Pils is I just can't see it becoming the favorite of a German beer drinker. I believe that conversely, good but obviously American styles should be promoted.

            1. re: Chinon00
              MVNYC Feb 26, 2007 10:22 PM

              IPA's would not appeal to the Czech people i know. It simply isnt what they would view as a great beer. I am not saying that we should give them our Pilsners, but there are certain styles that do not appeal to certain markets. I actually would think that some of the stronger stouts would do well in that market.

              1. re: Chinon00
                c
                Chicago Mike Feb 28, 2007 12:37 AM

                Interesting....

                I'm actually in a "beer club" with some eastern europeans including a "typical" mid-20's Polish yuppie...

                He loves the fine US microbrews.... appreciates them as much as any american

                1. re: Chicago Mike
                  MVNYC Feb 28, 2007 07:51 AM

                  I would have to warn against lumping all eastern europeans together. There are a lot more sweet heavy beers from Poland then there are in the Czech republic.

                  Also i am not sure if your beer club is in the US or something you do over the internet but if it is the former, then those are the tastes of someone living here who by the very nature of living in the us is exposed to more beers. If it is the latter then you would also have to imagine that someone in poland who gets beer shipped to them is really into beer, more so than the average consumer

            2. braineater Feb 26, 2007 06:34 PM

              I believe Sierra Nevada is exported to England and some other parts of Europe. One of the things hindering the acceptance of American beer in the European market (especially in England), is the relatively high alcohol content. Where most English ales are brewed to fall in the 4% ABV range (give or take) and are meant to be enjoyed as session beers, a lot of American craft-brewed ales fall in the 6%+ ABV range, making them much less sessionable. Beer is much more of a social institution in Europe, and as such, you want to be drinking beers of lower alcohol content if you're out for a night at the bar with your friends. Try putting down a half-dozen or more pints of SN Pale Ale or a stronger beer in an evening at the bar, and you'll come to see why these brews aren't ideal for sessions.

              1. Chinon00 Feb 27, 2007 12:29 AM

                One obstacle for our beer in Europe, and particularly in Britain, as I see it is that American cuisine in general is sort of cliche and singular there (i.e. mostly bar & grills featuring steaks and burgers and a big ol' hunk of "New York style" cheesecake for dessert). And I believe that this translates right over to beer unfortunately as well. It's almost like they're living out an American fantasy instead of having true interest in cuisine itself (why else would you order a Bud bottle with Adnam's Bitter a hand pull away for example?)
                Conversely, here in the US you see gradations of say Italian cuisine from cliche (Olive Garden) to independent mom & pop to regional to Batali . . . So there is apparently not the same natural and genuine curiousity in our offerings (beer or otherwise) which will be difficult to overcome. But I have hope!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Chinon00
                  peetoteeto Feb 27, 2007 05:29 AM

                  I am just speculating here...as I suspect you are, Chinon00...but I wonder if American craft beer will start to establish an identity in overseas markets that's a more "concentrated" image of beer here in the US. Specifically, would the European craft beer drinker perceive American craft ale as generally more extreme and 'big?'

                  Call it the David Hasselhoff effect. We Americans know who DH is, but the Germans REALLY know who he is. Jerry Lewis in France, Elvis and blue jeans in Japan, American big beer in Europe...?

                  Lest I venture into stereotypes, I am done speculating!

                  1. re: Chinon00
                    b
                    butterfly Feb 28, 2007 03:44 AM

                    I think another problem is cost. Even with the exchange rate in its favor, American beer, wine and liquor tends to be quite a bit more expensive (at least where I live, in Spain). I can't recall ever seeing an American microbrew here.

                  2. Chinon00 Feb 27, 2007 09:13 AM

                    Is your point that no matter what the quality of the beer provided to them from us (Bud or Brooklyn) there is a danger that the result will inevitably be a "Hasselhoff-ization" of it, having the beer never being appreciated for its intrinsic value?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Chinon00
                      peetoteeto Feb 28, 2007 04:53 AM

                      Most beer drinkers take their first sip with inevitable bias and preconceived notions. The whole "American beer is like making love in a canoe" cliche, for example.

                      I just wonder, as American micros expand into Europe, if the image of American craft ale as hop monsters / alcohol bombs will be strong in a place like Great Britian, which prizes its milds and bitters. Perhaps even more pronounced than in the US.

                      Here in the States, it's amazing how many people still believe that domestic ice beers (Keystone, Icehouse) will get you "messed up so much quicker" because they're so high in alcohol. (Rolls eyes emoticon here). Same with malt liquor, 95% of which is hovers around 6% ABV, not the 10% people assume it is.

                      I believe that, intrinsic value aside, people like to form easy-to-digest stories about things they're unfamiliar with or learning about -- especially in a confusing world of SKU overload. I'm not losing sleep over it, but I wonder what that story is for Europeans as a new chapter of American beer comes to market.

                      1. re: peetoteeto
                        Chinon00 Feb 28, 2007 09:19 AM

                        Well as I understand from others on the site the light lager (Stella, Heineken, etc) is doing well across Europe (pity). Our micros definitely wouldn’t get confused or lost in the mix with those (which is good). Another good question though would be where over there are light lagers taking off and why exactly?
                        But often as you’ve stated there appears to be the need on the part of some Europeans (and Canadians too) to gravitate toward our most banal products food/bev to then use them as a foil to further celebrate their own products. They do this to each other as well. I had a conversation with a French woman once who said of Italian food “It’s fun to have spaghetti or pizza once in a while but for a really elegant dinner there is only French food”.
                        PS - What is "SKU"?

                        1. re: Chinon00
                          peetoteeto Feb 28, 2007 10:00 AM

                          Stock Keeping Unit...a retail moniker for an individual product offering. "Budweiser has way too many SKUs at Kroger. It's like a mile long."

                          Good discussion! Now I'm off to drink Stella and eat spaghetti with David Hasselhoff in Paris.

                    2. m
                      mojoeater Feb 28, 2007 10:27 AM

                      If you are talking about true 'microbrews' in the US, it's hard to include beers like Sierra, Anchor, Sam Adams, etc. which have grown so large they are basically 'macrobrews.' Unfortunately, those corporations are the only ones who can afford to distribute overseas. There are so many laws, taxes, licenses, etc. which vary from state to state in the US. Then you have to incorporate federal customs and more. It is hugely expensive for the boutique breweries to export, and therefore the end consumer has to pay higher prices. Since most of the world sees Belgian, German and Czech beers as the best, it is hard to get Europeans to pay extra for an unknown American beer.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mojoeater
                        c
                        Chicago Mike Mar 24, 2007 11:58 AM

                        While they do have a large distribution, they are brewed, IMO, to "microbrew" standards....

                        1. re: Chicago Mike
                          JessKidden Mar 24, 2007 01:31 PM

                          Boston Beer Company and Sierra Nevada are both quite large (both are in the top 10 of US breweries) and are the reason why the Brewers Association (the industry group for small brewers) uses the term "Craft beer/breweries" for such companies, as well as considering them "Regional" breweries in size (less than 2 mil. bbl) even tho' the are both pretty much national in distribution.

                          http://www.beertown.org/craftbrewing/statistics.html

                          Anchor, on the other hand, even tho' it pre-dates the "microbrewery craft beer" era, has remained relatively small at only 83K bbl in 2005 (purposely, if one reads Maytag's interviews), even tho' they, too, have nearly "national" distribution. (Altho' the BA defines anything above 15K as "regional". Years ago, that would have been considered a local brewery but distribution of beer has certainly changed from those days). Anchor, once the nation's smallest, has passed a couple of "old breweries" like Straubs, Schell's and Dixie (Katrina doing the latter in, as noted).

                          http://www.breweryage.com/archives/wi...

                      2. p
                        Paul Maipork Mar 9, 2007 08:35 AM

                        I think the travesty is that most of us don't get the opportunity to taste the worlds best microbrews. (Many never come here, many never go there)

                        Microbrews, by definition are small batch producers. In the EU and more recently US, the product of these brew houses is generally meant for local consumption.

                        The demand for EU micros in the US supports the higher price and most educated beer drinkers recognize that the beauty of a true Belg. Trippel is greater than the sum of the parts. The US just isn't at a place right now where we can sell that experience.

                        So, a EU beer drinker may very well enjoy US micros. But understand that depending where they are from and their pride in the original regional flavors of their home micro brews, they may never admit to our beers being equal. It's just tradition.

                        1. a
                          afty698 Mar 9, 2007 10:08 AM

                          I was recently chatting with a guy in Stockholm who was excited about buying one of the few packs of North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout that made it to his city. I was amazed that Old Rasputin was distributed that far away.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: afty698
                            Josh Mar 9, 2007 05:25 PM

                            Funny you should mention that, I'm presently enjoying North Coast's Old Stock Ale, and it tastes extremely British to my palate. Tremendous beer, both in flavor and its 11.6% ABV.

                          2. t
                            tchai Mar 15, 2007 06:56 AM

                            No offence but when I was in the States all the beers were served ice-cold (presumably to mask the flavour). The ones you could taste were like making love on a riverbank. "...these are the best beers of their category in the world today", dream on Chicago Mike!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: tchai
                              Josh Mar 15, 2007 10:05 AM

                              Obviously you went to the standard crappy American bar selling mass-market macro-brew swill. That'd be like going to England, drinking nothing but Tennants, and then saying the British make bad beer.

                              1. re: Josh
                                Jim Dorsch Mar 15, 2007 04:07 PM

                                Lots of US bars, even those featuring craft beer, serve beer too cold. Some customers demand it, and cold beer doesn't foam so much during dispense.

                              2. re: tchai
                                c
                                Chicago Mike Mar 24, 2007 12:00 PM

                                Well, I will stand by that statement...

                                If you can find me better Stouts, better Barleywines, better Pale Ales made outside the USA, I'd sure appreciate their names....

                                And, you might also identify the "ice cold" beers you were drinking, so that we can assess whether those were true microbrews...

                                Also, what's wrong with making love on a river bank ???

                              3. b
                                brentk Mar 15, 2007 07:12 AM

                                Not sure where you went tchai, but the places I go to for good beer don't serve it ice cold.

                                Having said that, there are far too many places in the US that haven't a clue about good beer so I could easily see how you could have that reaction.

                                1. t
                                  tchai Mar 15, 2007 07:19 AM

                                  I may be travelling out to California (Sebastopol) later this year. Can you recommend any local beers there?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: tchai
                                    Josh Mar 15, 2007 10:13 AM

                                    I don't know Sebastopol, but beers you should look for:

                                    Stone
                                    AleSmith
                                    Lost Coast
                                    Lagunitas
                                    Russian River
                                    Hoptown
                                    Anderson Valley
                                    Avery
                                    Rogue
                                    Allagash
                                    Victory

                                    Those are some of the best microbrew producers in the US, and you should be able to find some of those at a good pub.

                                    Sign up for an account here http://beeradvocate.com and use their BeerFly service. You should be able to find some good places that way.

                                  2. r
                                    raharris Mar 21, 2007 05:29 PM

                                    Can't fully remember, but I seem to recall Budweiser in great big 24 ouncers in Greece. ICK. But then they also only drank Amstel and Heineken in the same great big bottles . . . along with the only Grecian beer I ran across, called Mythos. Guess what - it tasted exactly like Heineken.

                                    1. therealbigtasty Mar 25, 2007 02:56 AM

                                      Most American Microbrews are pretty poor facsimiles of what I've tasted abroad. I don't know, it's may just be because we aren't conditioned to drink beer on a daily basis as Americans. But day to day beers in Europe are generally pretty great.

                                      Kronebourg 1776, however, is awful, horrible, disgusting stuff. And that was everywhere on my last Europe trip.

                                      But then again, I totally love some of the microbrews I've had the pleasure to taste in my years, but over there? I don't know.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: therealbigtasty
                                        b
                                        brentk Mar 25, 2007 06:02 AM

                                        In my opinion, the best American microbrews are not facsimiles of what you have tasted abroad as the top brewers are gaining their repute with distinctly American styles - for example. the American IPA or Double IPA will taste nothing like an English IPA. There are lots of other examples fo this.

                                        I would agree, however, that by and large, American attempts to imitate European styles, such as Belgian dubbels, tripels, Pilsners, doppelbocks, ESBs and other bitters, generally fall short.

                                        Not sure exactly which styles you were talking about, however - if you were referring only to the vast sea of pale ales, amber ales, brown ales and lagers that come out of many American microbreweries, I would agree that those would not have much of an impact in Europe. But to go back to the original premise, it is the "out there" styles produced in the top microbreweries that everyone is wondering about. I would expect they would have about the same impact as they do over here. Those who are really interested in beer as opposed to being interested in just drinking a lot of beer would probably find them interesting. But that group is a pretty small subset of beer drinkers overall.

                                        1. re: brentk
                                          therealbigtasty Mar 25, 2007 11:57 AM

                                          Sorry about the lack of specifics...I was, er, in the process of drinking beers...

                                        2. re: therealbigtasty
                                          Josh Mar 25, 2007 08:20 AM

                                          I'd love to know which breweries overseas are producing double IPAs.

                                        3. JessKidden Mar 25, 2007 05:25 AM

                                          One of my "favorite" quotes that has stuck in mind my all the years (and not particularly pertinent to this thread, but what the heck) came from an article many years ago about the "growth" of imported beer in the US.

                                          Now, this was so long ago, there was NO microbrewing in the US and imports had about 3% of the market (mostly Heineken, German and Canadian, no Corona yet). An A-B distributor (who, if he's still around no doubt is about to carry all sorts of InBev brands as well as "real" Budweiser), was asked about imports and said:

                                          "If you want to taste a good imported beer, go to a PX in Germany and buy a Michelob."

                                          I don't know, it's always struck me funny in a xenophobic sort of way, and is somewhat ironic in today's global beer market.

                                          1. Chinon00 Mar 25, 2007 09:30 AM

                                            Giving this more thought and listening to some of the posts it appears to me that American craft beer might have a better shot in countries without profound brewing histories (i.e. Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia, and Greece).

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                              b
                                              butterfly Mar 25, 2007 12:40 PM

                                              A little history... I believe that Spain has the first archaeological evidence of beer brewing, which dates back to the Iberians in 1100 years b.c... And there has been a continuous brewing history since the 1500s (thanks to Charles V, boozehound that he was).

                                              Beer is very popular in Madrid, but it is a very specific kind of light, foamy draft lager/pilsener that goes well with the kind of food that people snack on (shellfish, seafood, tapas, etc.). It's also very cheap ($1.50 a glass). As is wine ($2-4 a glass). I think the prohibitive cost of American microbrews makes their success here--outside of a microniche of aficionados--quite improbable.

                                              1. re: butterfly
                                                therealbigtasty Mar 26, 2007 06:40 PM

                                                What about that oldest text found? The Sumerian recipe for beer?

                                                1. re: therealbigtasty
                                                  Josh Mar 26, 2007 07:41 PM

                                                  Dogfish Head makes a beer based on that recipe called Midas Touch. It's an interesting drink.

                                                  1. re: Josh
                                                    therealbigtasty Mar 27, 2007 06:40 PM

                                                    I will have to try that...

                                                    1. re: therealbigtasty
                                                      c
                                                      Chicago Mike Mar 29, 2007 11:31 PM

                                                      Midas Touch is strange. Nothing you'd want to quaff with any regularity.

                                                  2. re: therealbigtasty
                                                    b
                                                    butterfly Mar 27, 2007 05:11 AM

                                                    Ack--I should have said the first EUROPEAN archaeological evidence of a beer brewery... Would love to try that Dogfish Head beer.

                                                    1. re: butterfly
                                                      Josh Mar 27, 2007 10:19 AM

                                                      It's good. Made w/ muscat grapes, saffron, and honey. Very interesting flavor.

                                                      1. re: Josh
                                                        b
                                                        butterfly Mar 27, 2007 02:05 PM

                                                        Well now you've created a micro-market (of one)! Quirky beers like this might have a shot--provided they taste good, that is. II guess I'll have to wait until I get back to the US on a trip...

                                                      2. re: butterfly
                                                        therealbigtasty Mar 27, 2007 06:41 PM

                                                        Just giving you a hard time...heh..

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