Author Topic: British beer v foreign beer.  (Read 14691 times)

British beer v foreign beer.
« on: October 05, 2009, 04:34:15 pm »
As you may know we've just been to Seattle/Hood River/Portland where there are lots and lots of microbreweries making a wide range of different styles of beer.
Some of these include what are described as "English style bitters".
The thing is, they don't taste like any British beers that I know (and like). They nearly always taste too bitter and feel rather "thin" in the mouth. I put this to the test last night by having a couple of pints in my local- The Marble in Chorlton- and I had a pint of Ginger Marble. It was interesting to compare  ;). Basically the Ginger was creamier and smoother. I've no doubt I would have thought the same if I'd tried any of the other British beers that I like (including but not limited to London Pride, Landlord, Pedigree, Adnams, Copper Dragon, Black Sheep).
Even the US bitters that were served with nitrogen weren't anything like the British stuff.
Any ideas why that might be ?

I should add that I liked many of the beers that we tried and that the German style wheat beers tasted pretty much like the beers from Germany.

ET change the thread title from "English" to "British". We're all in this together  ;)


Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2009, 04:38:04 pm »
There's a lot of variation amongst English beers - what you describe with the "too bitter and thin" soundls like a heavily hopped light ale (see Shepherd Neame). Personally, I like milds and stouts, which are creamier and sweeter, and porters which are rich and strong.
Have you seen my blog? It has words. And pictures! http://ablogofallthingskathy.blogspot.com/

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2009, 04:49:20 pm »
We generally do like our beers hoppier than most countries. I've recently discovered Marston's Old Empire - now that is hopped!!!

The only comparison I can make with your experience is Guinness Foreign Export. It's 7.5% ABV in England and a meaty & mighty brew. A similar (I thought identical) beer is available in Belgium. However, when I did a side-by-side comparison, the English version is MUCH more hopped than the Belgian - and better for it IMHO.

Maybe the type of hop they use in the US is stronger in taste than the ones you're used to?
Haggerty F, Haggerty R, Tomkins, Noble, Carrick, Robson, Crapper, Dewhurst, Macintyre, Treadmore, Davitt.

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2009, 04:52:57 pm »
We generally do like our beers hoppier than most countries.

A lot of European countries don't use hops at all in their beer! They use other preservatives, such as cloves and orange peel. Makes for an interesting drink (and an even more interesting conversation when you're trying to discuss the finer points of brewing in a mediaeval festival in Narbonne with a man who doesn't speak English, and your French is a bit ropey, and you've all had a few pints as well).
Have you seen my blog? It has words. And pictures! http://ablogofallthingskathy.blogspot.com/

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2009, 04:55:24 pm »
Try something Kentish in Kent. Tends to taste thin and very bitter if your used to Midlands or Northern beers.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2009, 05:30:04 pm »
Try something Kentish in Kent. Tends to taste thin and very bitter if your used to Midlands or Northern beers.

I've noticed that most of the bitters that I like are brewed in the Midlands or North of England (London Pride is the exception from my list). I guess that's what is more readily available here (and probably in the best condition if it hasn't travelled too far).
Another thought- I generally don't like bottles of any of my favourites, only draught.

Quote
There's a lot of variation amongst English beers - what you describe with the "too bitter and thin" sounds like a heavily hopped light ale (see Shepherd Neame).

You're right- I didn't like any of the beers described as "ales". I'm sure that I've had Shepherd Neame and liked it. I'll seek it out again.
It's the Didsbury beer festival at the end of October so more opportunities for "research". I can cycle there and back along the river  ;)


Riggers

  • Mine's a pipe, er… pint!
Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2009, 05:33:00 pm »
You will remember to tell us about the cycle – beer – river incident when it eventually happens old chap? Hmmmm?
Certainly never seen cycling south of Sussex

FatBloke

  • I come from a land up over!
Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2009, 05:42:23 pm »
I found while I was in Washington state last summer is that the "bitters" and "IPAs" served up by the microbreweries whilst delicious, are served chilled to 4°c and were more like dark lagers rather than English bitter. I even tried drinking a bottled IPA at cellar temperature (13°c) rather than ice cold and it tasted like warm lager.   :-\

Bloody nice beer all the same!   :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
This isn't just a thousand to one shot. This is a professional blood sport. It can happen to you. And it can happen again.

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2009, 05:48:51 pm »
You will remember to tell us about the cycle – beer – river incident when it eventually happens old chap? Hmmmm?

 ;D ;D

PaulF

  • "World's Scariest Barman"
  • It's only impossible if you stop to think about it
Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2009, 06:04:00 pm »
I've been doing a lot of research into this very subject recently :)

American 'ales' are closer to English Southern Bitterd rather than Northern Bitters.

woollypigs

  • Mr Peli
    • woollypigs
Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2009, 06:32:04 pm »
Denmark is in the mist of a revival of beers after years of suppression from Carlsberg. Every town now have a brewery and nearly every restaurant has its micro brewery. Even Carlsberg is on the band wagon with their own brand called Carls. They range from chocolate flavor(which I had this weekend) to truly English style ales and bitters. It is a joy to go back to Denmark and enter a supermarket and have a big choice of beers instead of having to choose from two larger's.

I even found this one :)

#bollockstobrexit

Julian

  • samoture
Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2009, 06:35:38 pm »
I was sampling the Danish microbrews while we were there - but bloody hell are they strong!  I'm used to southern beer which tends to be 3.8 - 5.5% but it was difficult to find a microbrew in Denmark any weaker than 6% or so.  :o

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2009, 06:36:17 pm »

Some of these include what are described as "English style bitters".
The thing is, they don't taste like any British beers that I know (and like).

There is a difference.

My current favourites are from Tomos Watkins and Kingstone, neither of which is in England. :-)

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2009, 08:21:16 pm »
Lately I have been mostly drinking

Gold Label No1 Barley Wine
Marstons Owd Rodger
Fullers Golden Pride
McEwans Champion
Brakspear Triple

Gold Label is a particular favourite. Usually found alongside bum beers (Carlsberg Special Brew, Tennants Super) or the Grandpas favourite, Mackesons (lush, up there with Manns brown ale for low abv treats). It's delicious, up there with Duvel and the like.

Not one of those could be described as thin or hoppy.

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2009, 08:39:52 pm »
Lately I have been mostly drinking

Gold Label No1 Barley Wine
Marstons Owd Rodger
Fullers Golden Pride
McEwans Champion
Brakspear Triple


Not one of those could be described as thin or hoppy.

I know what you mean DrM, but aren't all of these quite high in alcohol content and therefore also quite sweet ?
It's a personal thing, but I tend not to like beers that are stronger than about 5% (I've even done research on beer in Belgium and they're not to my taste either).

The original reason for the post was to find out if there are technical reasons why foreign beers don't replicate British (point taken Tewdric  ;) I'd forgotten about some of the Welsh beers tasted here:- Have you been out today?).

Any thoughts ?




Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2009, 08:56:31 pm »
If you like beer from cask only, not bottle, and you like northern beer, it might be that you like your beer through a sparkler. It's like a tiny showerhead, and the beer gets pushed through at pressure which froths it up and removes CO2 from the body of it, into the head it creates. It gives the beer a thicker mouthfeel, and sweeter, softer taste.

But also, yes, I think American ales (and American-style -  Brew Dog, Meantime and Dark Star are UK breweries that make American-style IPAs, off the top of my head) do have a distinctive metallic-tasting hoppiness that can seem quite harsh when compared with even the hoppier end of UK ales. They use different varieties of hops, I know - I'm not sure if there's much more of a difference in manufacture.




Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2009, 09:00:45 pm »
I think you're right Marna  :thumbsup: and I did actually know about the sparkler  :-[

I'll be in the pub after football on Wednesday and I might ask them to pour a pint without the sparkler to see what the difference is.
Actually, I might only get a half, just in case  ;)

I wonder if there's a marketing opportunity in US pubs here ?


RJ

  • Droll rat
Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2009, 10:02:19 pm »
So, is this beer "English", or "foreign"???

 :demon: ;)

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2009, 12:34:48 am »
...I even found this one :)



I've gotta photo somewhere of me holding one of those  :thumbsup:

Jakob

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2009, 12:45:13 am »
I haven't yet had any English-like bitters (In fact, I bought a can (A can!) of London Pride the other day, in pure surprise that they had it in the shop.
 Having said that, the beer here in PNW is absolutely amazing. Hell, even at the Safeco Field (Baseball stadium in Seattle), they had 3 different local beers and not a single national brand piss-lager. (Budweiser, et all). The local version of CAMRA is rapidly expanding and my local pub usually got 10+ different beers on tap, + 4-5 guest beers. (And a large assortment of bottled beers).
My local liquor stores got more types of beer than I've seen anywhere (And I've been to Belgium/Holland a fair bit) and it takes me forever to go beer shopping, because I often refuse to buy the same brand, when there's new and exciting beers to try out.
 In addition, I finally got around to trying some of the local wine and it's bloody amazing too. I'm never moving back to London!!.

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2009, 08:53:22 am »
If you like beer from cask only, not bottle, and you like northern beer, it might be that you like your beer through a sparkler. It's like a tiny showerhead, and the beer gets pushed through at pressure which froths it up and removes CO2 from the body of it, into the head it creates. It gives the beer a thicker mouthfeel, and sweeter, softer taste.

Every pub from the Midlands up has a sparkler permanently attached to the pumps. Which is wrong if they have a Southern guest beer on of course but is how people expect beer to be served. I remember going to the Tap and Spile at Heathrow Airport and the barman clocked me about 30- paces away (he used to work at the one in York) and by teh time I got to the bar he had whipped out a sparkler and attached it to the Theakstons pump.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

nicknack

  • Hornblower
Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2009, 10:33:40 am »
Probably should be in the rant thread but:

Sparklers!  :sick:

Ruins the beer and gives the landlord an opportunity to sell you less than a pint.
There's no vibrations, but wait.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2009, 10:36:16 am »
But also, yes, I think American ales (and American-style -  Brew Dog, Meantime and Dark Star are UK breweries that make American-style IPAs, off the top of my head) do have a distinctive metallic-tasting hoppiness that can seem quite harsh when compared with even the hoppier end of UK ales. They use different varieties of hops, I know - I'm not sure if there's much more of a difference in manufacture.

The northwest, particularly Washington state, is the main hop-growing region of the US and there is lots of innovative experimental research into hop cultivation. That's part of the story.

There's also a competitively macho element to American craft brewing, with breweries trying to outdo each other as to who can make the bitterest beer. I once tried a beer called HopDevil from the Victory brewery (based in Pennsylvania rather than the northwest) which was unpleasantly hoppy even to my hop-loving Kentish palate. But even that is pretty mild compared to some US beers.

Plus, as FB says, they tend to drink their beer colder, which kills the flavour, so they have to make it stronger-tasting to compensate.

But American breweries are making some of the best beers in the world at the moment, and I would dearly love to do a beer tour of the northwest states.

d.

Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2009, 10:39:57 am »
Probably should be in the rant thread but:

Sparklers!  :sick:

Ruins the beer and gives the landlord an opportunity to sell you less than a pint.

I believe CAMRA are anti-sparkler. As a southerner, I rarely encounter such things, so have yet to work out whether or not I approve.  :smug:
Have you seen my blog? It has words. And pictures! http://ablogofallthingskathy.blogspot.com/

nicknack

  • Hornblower
Re: English beer v foreign beer.
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2009, 10:42:57 am »
Your very lucky then. They really bugger up a pint of Master Brew.
There's no vibrations, but wait.