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  1. #1
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    Average American perception of American Beer

    This is a splice off of the "Non-american perception of american beer" thread.

    I wonder what you think Americans think of american beer. Yes there is the "craft beer movement" but 90%+ of all beer sold is still from the big boys (AB-Inbev, Miller-coors, etc...)

    I also have had countless "I never knew beer could taste like that" experiences with new friends. Which only further makes me think that the average american still has no idea what a ___(insert beer style other than lager here)____ tastes like. In my little inner-sanctum of beer nerds i regularly forget that most have no idea what a "flemish red" is or they look at you sidways when you say you spent $30 on a bottle of beer, or they think the fancy bottles in my "wine fridge" are actually wine.

    I am directing this mostly at the average population, not the craft scene, or the uber beer nerds. Do you think that the average guy drinks Hams because he likes it, or because thats what his dad drank? or because its cheap? etc...

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    I don't know many guys who drink the cheap corporate beer without having experienced a yummy craft beer. Most of the guys I know who drink cheap beer drink it because it's cheap and they drink a lot of it.

    I take the quality over quantity perspective and while I may not usually go through a whole 6 pack in a week (I will if the beer in it is outstanding), I probably spend the same per week (or even less) than most guys I know who drink swill.

    And my perspective on even craft brews is pretty narrow. I just don't have the selection that a lot of you guys have at my LBS.

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    I'm not a full-on beer snob - I regularly drink and enjoy PBR - but do my best to avoid the Big 3 Light beers. I've made a few batches of beer but it's been a while. New Belgium isn't a craft or a micro-brewery, though they make a few decent beers. ____ Light is garbage only suitable for rehydration after a long and hot ride or run.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian
    Do you think that the average guy drinks Hams because he likes it, or because thats what his dad drank? or because its cheap? etc...
    Yes, and yes
    If you haven't been exposed to certain things, you'll never know the difference. It's a sort of ingorance, and can close the mind to new experiences...one of them being beer. Not saying all people should absolutely love a craft brewer or stout over Bud Light Lime, but most (not all) people whom tend to only drink the latter simply fear the change involved in even trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk
    Most of the guys I know who drink cheap beer drink it because it's cheap and they drink a lot of it.
    This.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean
    New Belgium isn't a craft or a micro-brewery, though they make a few decent beers.
    New Belgium, and the ABA beg to differ...they most certainly are still considered a "craft" brewery. Big as they might seem, they fall well short of the 6,000,000 barrel/year production ceiling that defines a "craft" brewer.
    A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. - Winston Churchill

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    Quote Originally Posted by JFryauff View Post
    New Belgium, and the ABA beg to differ...they most certainly are still considered a "craft" brewery. Big as they might seem, they fall well short of the 6,000,000 barrel/year production ceiling that defines a "craft" brewer.
    Perhaps living in Denver biases me. Fat Tire and Sunshine are at every mediocre bar in town; Fat Tire is only ordered by those trying to seem "cool" and "with it" for ordering a "microbrew," Sunshine is for chicks who like to say they're in to beer.

    Maybe it's different somewhere that doesn't have countless excellent local small breweries. Not that I don't like NB - I just finished a case of Summersault, a shame it's replaced for the season by "Hoptober" which is decent but certainly lacks the hop-power the name would suggest - just prefer actual small local breweries.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    Perhaps living in Denver biases me. Fat Tire and Sunshine are at every mediocre bar in town; Fat Tire is only ordered by those trying to seem "cool" and "with it" for ordering a "microbrew," Sunshine is for chicks who like to say they're in to beer.

    Maybe it's different somewhere that doesn't have countless excellent local small breweries. Not that I don't like NB - I just finished a case of Summersault, a shame it's replaced for the season by "Hoptober" which is decent but certainly lacks the hop-power the name would suggest - just prefer actual small local breweries.
    How "cool" a brewery is doesn't have bearing on whether or not it's a craft brewery. Look at Sam Adams (Boston Beer Co.) - they're a craft brewery and most people group them with the macrobreweries because they're so large, have national distribution, and a huge advertising budget.

    And your generalizations about Fat Tire and Sunshine are pretty narrow-minded - I enjoy both Fat Tire and Sunshine, and I'm not a "chick" who's trying to be "cool" or "with it." In fact, I've probably had more different kinds of beer in the past year than most drink in their lifetime (even going as far as traveling to beer festivals across the country.)

    For me, Sierra Nevada, Deschutes, Speakeasy, and Anchor Steam can be found at most bars around here, even the crappy ones. That doesn't mean that they're bad beers - they just have excellent distribution since the breweries are relatively close.


    I'd like to add that New Belgium has a bunch of delicious beers that you may not have tried - their Lips of Faith series is pretty fantastic.

  7. #7
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    < - - Craft Beer Snob here, but before I moved to San Diego and was introduced to "Craft" beer, I thought Newcastle brown and Guinness were the most exotic "special" beers I had ever had. In fact I drank Newcastle most of the time, that was my go-to beer. At one point I drank Budweiser because I was doing the club scene with a buddy and that is what he drank. Essentially I did not know better because I had not experienced better personally. I think this same situation is the case with most regular people who drink beer from the big three, they just don't know better, and then there are the college students who cannot afford better and are looking at beer as a way to get drunk, not a beverage to enjoy. I would hope the people who drink cheep beer to get drunk cheaper is a smaller percentage of the US population, but I have never seen any study to say one way or the other.

    I do have one prediction however, the growth of the Craft Beer scene is only going to move faster and faster as more people are introduced to locally made craft beer and realize drinking beer is not just about getting a buzz but it is about enjoying the rich complex flavors that you cannot find in a Bud.
    Ride Bikes, Drink Craft Beer, Repeat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino View Post
    And your generalizations about Fat Tire and Sunshine are pretty narrow-minded - I enjoy both Fat Tire and Sunshine, and I'm not a "chick" who's trying to be "cool" or "with it."

    ...

    I'd like to add that New Belgium has a bunch of delicious beers that you may not have tried - their Lips of Faith series is pretty fantastic.
    It's not a generalization about Fat Tire and Sunshine, it's a generalization about people who drink Fat TIre and Sunshine in Denver.

    Agreed that NB has a bunch of great beers, but Fat Tire and Sunshine are pretty mediocre compared to the rest of their line up. I've had a couple of the Lips of Faith series but only at the brewery, never bought any at the liquor store. I'll grab one if I'm feeling celebratory in a couple days.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    Maybe it's different somewhere that doesn't have countless excellent local small breweries.
    I live in Fort Collins, where NB beers are as common as budlight. But i think the Average american is stoked about Fat tire. IMO its one of these "gateway" beers that tastes VERY different from your run-o-the-mill lagers. Once your out of the colorado its much more sought after, just as JTmartino and his nor-cal brews are more desirable in colorado. I lived in Davis CA before FC and sierra nevada pale ale was everywhere and Fat tire was much more rare, now that i have moved its almost impossible to find sierra nevada on tap.

    Quote Originally Posted by Klurejr View Post
    I do have one prediction however, the growth of the Craft Beer scene is only going to move faster and faster as more people are introduced to locally made craft beer and realize drinking beer is not just about getting a buzz but it is about enjoying the rich complex flavors that you cannot find in a Bud.
    I also concur, thus AB-inbev purchasing smaller breweries (goose island for example) and trying very hard not to let it be known they own the company. Even the big guys know that craft is here to stay.

    I still wonder if 10 years from now the coors dad or Busch man will still be drinking the exact same thing no matter how available pliny the elder (or any exoctic craft beer) becomes. I think a lot of it has to do with the "younger" crowd who is more open to the craft beer revolution and less devoted to a brand.
    Last edited by Guerdonian; 09-08-2011 at 11:38 AM.

  10. #10
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    As another note, not to continue to derail the thread, but NB is still 3rd in the "craft" scene (sub 6mil barrels) to Boston, and Sierra, so they are not "main stream" in my mind by any means.
    Brewers Association | Brewers Association Releases 2010 Top 50 Breweries Lists

    To put it into perspective, AB-inbev produces more than 6,000,000 barrels a day.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    It's not a generalization about Fat Tire and Sunshine, it's a generalization about people who drink Fat TIre and Sunshine in Denver.

    Agreed that NB has a bunch of great beers, but Fat Tire and Sunshine are pretty mediocre compared to the rest of their line up. I've had a couple of the Lips of Faith series but only at the brewery, never bought any at the liquor store. I'll grab one if I'm feeling celebratory in a couple days.

    Hey, at least they're not drinking PBR or Bud Light!

    I know what you mean though - I think Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is pretty average nowadays, and it's not nearly as good as some of the other beers they brew. But everyone seems to have it, and most people who've had SN beers have only had their Pale.

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    Budweiser invented the Ice Cold Beer in a brilliant marketing move to mask the inferiority of their product.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marchone View Post
    Budweiser invented the Ice Cold Beer in a brilliant marketing move to mask the inferiority of their product.
    Taste is all in the eye of the beholder. The whole idea of this thread is to ask WHY do average americans drink Bud or anyother "stereotypical" american beer, and do they actually think its good. Not aiming to bash the big guys, mostly trying to discuss the root of their continued domination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian View Post
    Taste is all in the eye of the beholder.
    No argument intended here but quite a few in the F&B business would disagree with that statement. Numerous examples of inferior products exist in the US that dominate the marketplace. When generations of Americans have grown up on Olive Garden's overcooked pasta or Pizza Hut's offerings or Chinese food from Wok 'n Roll, to name but three, those products become the standard by which they think know the genre. When given an authentic Caesar Salad, for instance, they will likely turn up their noses at anchovies and soft-coddled eggs. Why? Because what the chains have given them are but pale examples of the original and often don't include those two original ingredients. Numerous reasons abound.

    I have seen the uninitiated exclaim when given a proper German or Czech Pilsener "This is terrible!" because they don't know the bitter style. Does that make them qualified to pronounce the beer terrible? It may be their taste but not their knowledge that is being offered.

    Budweiser, like most other popular brands, is made to a price and not to the highest quality they can achieve. Craft beers are aptly named because the craft of beer making comes first.

    I hope I've given you one answer to your question because I'm not bashing the mass marketers but trying to put the subject into perspective. Budweiser is the standard by which most Americans know beer.
    Last edited by marchone; 09-09-2011 at 04:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian View Post
    As another note, not to continue to derail the thread, but NB is still 3rd in the "craft" scene (sub 6mil barrels) to Boston, and Sierra, so they are not "main stream" in my mind by any means.
    Brewers Association | Brewers Association Releases 2010 Top 50 Breweries Lists

    To put it into perspective, AB-inbev produces more than 6,000,000 barrels a day.
    The marketing folks might slice it that way but anybody who thinks any of those beers are a true craft beer...well has never had a good craft beer.

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    The average american's perception of american beer, is likely only slightly less ignorant than the Non-american. As evidenced by the high sales of **** beer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shellshocked View Post
    The marketing folks might slice it that way but anybody who thinks any of those beers are a true craft beer...well has never had a good craft beer.


    I hope you're joking.
    If not, please enlighten us as to how none of those craft brewers make "true" craft beers. Also what does the ABA have to do with "marketing folks"? Or is it that the likes of Mitch Steele and Garrett Oliver have pulled the wool over our eyes?
    A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. - Winston Churchill

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian View Post
    Taste is all in the eye of the beholder. The whole idea of this thread is to ask WHY do average americans drink Bud or anyother "stereotypical" american beer, and do they actually think its good. Not aiming to bash the big guys, mostly trying to discuss the root of their continued domination.
    Marketing, and to a smaller extent price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JFryauff View Post
    I hope you're joking.
    If not, please enlighten us as to how none of those craft brewers make "true" craft beers. Also what does the ABA have to do with "marketing folks"? Or is it that the likes of Mitch Steele and Garrett Oliver have pulled the wool over our eyes?
    I think you may be focusing too much on the arbitrary 6Mbb/yr definition of a "craft" brewer, particularly when talking about specific beers. New Belgium is certainly a craft brewer, and they certainly make craft beers. I love that at certain events I can talk to their employees about a prototype beer that they're serving, that they are constantly coming up with new seasonals, and then the "Lips of Faith" series which speaks for itself. On the other hand, how can a beer like Fat Tire really be called a "craft" beer (as long as you don't stick to arbitrary numerical definitions)? The process is as refined and systematic as much as the process for making Bud Light, the only difference being the quality of the ingredients.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by marchone View Post
    Budweiser, like most other popular brands, is made to a price and not to the highest quality they can achieve. Craft beers are aptly named because the craft of beer making comes first.

    I hope I've given you one answer to your question because I'm not bashing the mass marketers but trying to put the subject into perspective. Budweiser is the standard by which most Americans know beer.
    Only partly, having spoken with many AB-inbev employees i have actually changed my opinion of there product as "s ***" beer, there devotion to consistancy and quality of their flagship 'budweiser' is extremely impressive. I do understand what you are getting at, the addition of adjuncts such as rice and corn, or the bastardizing of making something hand crafted in industrial quantities. Yet they still make a consistant product that could be argued as "high end" to the average consumer. By high end i mean some see budweiser as the king of beer, and to save cash they buy natty ice, or schlitz.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    The process is as refined and systematic as much as the process for making Bud Light, the only difference being the quality of the ingredients.

    If "Craft" is defined by high quality ingredients and the companies in question strive to use these, with no adjuncts, then what is so wrong with focusing on producing a product as consistantly as possible. A flagship beer should always taste like itself, otherwise what makes it quality? The best ingreadients are only part of "quality". Being an avid home brewer, and a big beer nerd, i know from experience that the brewing process effects the beer much more than the ingredients. You can put liquid gold in your mash tun, and still end up with a beer that tastes like crap very easily. For "big companies" like NB or SN, to produce a consistant product on a larger scale than your local corner brewery is very impressive.

    To bring it all back, You do bring up an interesting point. IYO do you think that New Belgium, Sierra Nevada and Boston count as "mass market"? Sounds like you think that the average american is now well informed about these beers, and sees them as available as Bud and Coors.

    Edit: i thought both comments were posted by the same person, oops.

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    I'd like to chime in here, being a recovering American "American lager" drinker.

    A lot of the younger crowd (read: those just turning 21, or younger) don't know about any beers other than what they see advertised on TV. Between 17 and 21, all I knew, all I drank, and all I loved was Miller Genuine Draft, because that is all that I knew of that tasted good. It's the same way with any young American.

    The only reason I am starting to turn away from swill, is because of my buddy Marco. He had me come over to watch football one day, and handed me a japanese beer (Kirin Ichiban). I was floored by how good it tasted. And it was so different than anything I had drank. After that beer, he handed me a Shiner Bock, and again, I was floored. For the next month, we would each go out to new liquor stores, find a new 6 pack, and bring them back for each other to taste.

    Without him handing me those random beers I had never heard of, it is very likely I would still be drinking swill. And I think that is the problem with the older crowd who will only drink one of the big three; they never got the chance to explore any of the "real" beers out there with some of their friends.

    Another part of the problem, is that Americans see alcohol as a "get drunk" drink. So I wouldn't spend $35 on getting 24 Hobgoblins, when I could spend $15 and get 24 Bud Lights. Both will get me drunk two nights in a row, but one is less expensive than the other.


    So, to sum up my post, it is largely an ignorance and price per drink problem that keeps a lot of Americans in the dark about beer.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    I think you may be focusing too much on the arbitrary 6Mbb/yr definition of a "craft" brewer, particularly when talking about specific beers.
    Numbers aside, its that not the disagreement here? Whether a specific brewery has the right to be called a craft brewer or not? The focus of my recent comment was simply on the ignorance of the comment made by someone else.
    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    New Belgium is certainly a craft brewer, and they certainly make craft beers.
    Agreed. Although, I think you have it out for NB
    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    On the other hand, how can a beer like Fat Tire really be called a "craft" beer (as long as you don't stick to arbitrary numerical definitions)? The process is as refined and systematic as much as the process for making Bud Light...
    I don't argue that Fat Tire is a flagship beer for NB, but most brewers have flagship beers, it's part of the consistency brewers have to maintain to stay viable in the marketplace. I think you'll find that a large majority of the larger craft breweries, especially the ones whom have been around for sometime now, all have flagship beers which become a consistent mainstay. For NB specifically, Fat Tire is a beer which has become popular in sales, and allows them to experiment with other beers. As much as we enjoy a more complex recipe, the fact is we are a small precentage of the marketplace. Growing, yes...but keep in mind that NB would probably not be able to do what they do at all without Fat Tire. Just as Stone has their core brand pale ale, and Brooklyn has their lager, it's part of running a successful brewery...which at the end of the day, is all they really want to do, not that it should or does detract from the ability to provide great craft beers. If you'd like to point out a numerically "craft" brewery whom has their blinders on, take a look at Yuengling
    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbean View Post
    ...the only difference being the quality of the ingredients.
    It's not the only difference, but it is a huge difference. Modifying a beers recipe to use a cheaper rice based grain bill, in order to reduce cost regardless of the affects in quality is a sin. Pure sales/marketing driven greed.

    Believe me, I completely understand your sentiments about Fat Tire, but I think we a whole in the craft/micro/nano drinking market need to be appreciative of what some of these larger craft providers have accomplished. They are gaining traction in a monopolized market with a product that has given the beer drinker another option, and has paved the way for thousands more. Making a huge dent in the union driven 3-tier distribution system, and making the big three take full notice, which may or may not be a good thing all the time (craft acquisitions).
    A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. - Winston Churchill

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petti the Yeti View Post
    Another part of the problem, is that Americans see alcohol as a "get drunk" drink. So I wouldn't spend $35 on getting 24 Hobgoblins, when I could spend $15 and get 24 Bud Lights. Both will get me drunk two nights in a row, but one is less expensive than the other.
    Valid point! I have always wondered why choose beer if you want to get waisted (as apposed to shots). I think its so that you have something in your hands while talking, or for all the fun games you can do with beer (shotgun, beer bong, keg stand, beer pong, etc...). I was one who participated in many a beer party in college, and it was always kegs of Bud Light, or keystone (if it was a fancy party we got Tacate, haha blech). You were an idiot if you got guiness, or Fat Tire, or Sierra Nevada, as it was to "heavy" and expensive. I didn't care what it tasted like, as long as i could chug it longer, or faster, or more of it than my buddy, then puke it up in the driveway and not feel bad that i just upchucked a fancy beer on someones tire.

    Looking back on that stage of my life i realize that i saw beer as the gateway to a good time, not the good time in itself.

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    I believe for Americans, it's not how good and enjoyable a beer is, but how many they can slam down in an hour. I don't really dig into the traditional "American" brews [Busch, Bud Light, etc.] but I do thoroughly enjoy a Coors original every once in a while.

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    I'd prefer a craft beer any day (Exit 4 American Trippel, anyone?) but sometimes you sort of have to drink like 15 coors lights. Say you're at a house party kegger competing in a beer pong tourney, for example. You can't play pong with good beer (it's a sin). Also, sometimes a normal, unassuming America beer is refreshing, more of a thirst quencher that a thicker, more complex craft beer.

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