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What the hell has America done to beer?

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This month’s Session question (a regular query posed by a chosen member of the beer blogging world) comes from Adrian Dingle on Ding’s Beer Blog: What the hell has America done to beer? aka USA versus Old World beer culture.

Ding (as he’s known throughout the beer blogging community) has already answered his own question, and it’s epic in length. It’s also a pretty fascinating read that gives insight into what it’s like to be an Old World pub-loving Englishman living in Atlanta. At its heart, Ding’s blog attempts to define what exactly beer culture looks like in the U.S.—where it lacks, where it confounds, where it annoys and, sometimes, where it excels. His final judgment: The contemporary American brewing scene offers very little cultural value.

From Ding’s post:

“So what has the contemporary American brewing scene given us culturally? Well, culturally not much. That isn’t to say that there is no good, American beer – there is, and lots of it – but that’s an entirely different conversation.”

Consider that for a moment.

Now, let me ask you:

You, who spent a lazy summer day listening to Of Montreal at Flying Dog during its summer concert series.

You, who discussed geopolitics over a pint of Brooklyn Summer Ale during the brewery’s War Correspondents series.

You, who plan to help Fullsteam forage persimmons in North Carolina this October for its First Frost winter persimmon ale.

You, who plan to attend Denver’s Beer Made By Walking fest in October, which features beers made with ingredients found by brewers while exploring Colorado hiking trails.

You, who donated money to Prairie Artisan Ale’s kickstarter project, so they could build a permanent home in Tulsa, Oklahoma for their spectacular saisons.

You, who donated money to Oregon Public House in Portland, a philanthropub that gives its proceeds to local charities.

You, who rediscovered your love for history when Cottrell Brewing owner and amateur diver Charlie Buffum announced he discovered Oliver Perry’s shipwrecked U.S.S. Revenge—and then brewed a commemorative beer.

You, who shamelessly sang 18th-century drinking songs during Philly’s touristy Tippler’s Tour pub crawl through the Old City neighborhood.

You, who were turned on to the benefits of locavorism and sustainable farming through the efforts of breweries like Stone and Oskar Blues.

You, who developed a new tool in the kitchen after reading the “cooking with our beer” section of Alaskan Brewing’s website.

You, who met new friends and shed a few extra pounds after joining NoDa Brewing’s Run Club in Charlotte, N.C.

You, who joined Capital Brewery’s Bike Club for fresh air and healthy adventure.

You, who tasted all of Dogfish Head’s ancient ales, and then read about the civilizations that inspired the series.

You, who tasted American native ales from the likes of Lakefront and Mystic, which changed the way you think about your surroundings.

You, who—for the first time ever—decided it’s time to go explore Vermont.

You, who watched homebrewers and breweries in the south help overturn archaic alcohol laws.

You, the pub crawler.

You, the beer trader.

You, the homebrewer.

You, the craft beer newcomer.

You and everyone else who enjoys beer:

What cultural value does the contemporary U.S. brewing scene offer?


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.


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