Our first discussion covered a generalized look into the regions of Britain, Germany, and Belgium. In this discussion we move to a region that is now becoming a leader in beer style revolution, the US. The term revolution here is used in the context of change. The terrior of the US is not in any specific style, it falls into all possible combinations and changes the original styles to what is needed.
This concept falls into more than just beer. A good example of this is the birth of Cajun and Creole cooking. Louisiana was settled by a group called the Acadians (the original Cajuns). They were a group of French settlers that had originally had settlements in Canada, until the French and Indian war.
The land holders servents were, of course, fluent in French cooking methods, but they ran into problems. Its hard to tell the color of a roux in cast iron cookware. This was the birth of the black roux that is a hallmark in Cajun/Creole cooking today. Louisiana today is a melting pot of Mexican, African, and French cooking styles. Even though the combination is considered the Cajun/Creole cooking style it still comes from these other base styles.
This too falls into our history of beer. Many of the first breweries in the US were started by German immigrants. They too ran into issues with what they found here. The native 6 row barley was not quite suited to the same techniques they were used to, they had to make changes. They found that by using other available grains (corn and rice) they could get closer to the beers they knew at home. This gave birth to a new terrior in the realm of beer styles; a grain driven beer style.
Move a little bit forward on the time line and we encounter the Gold Rush of the 1840s. Boom towns popped up in California to support the miners. Of course what do thirsty miners need? Beer, and lots of it. The problem, even Northern California can be quite warm, too warm for traditionally brewed lagers. This was the birth of the California Common beer style (can’t use steam beer cause thats trademarked). This is a lager that is brewed at ale temperatures. So we have a modified technique that creates a new yeast driven beer.
Modified technique you ask? Yep, this technique had been used for some time in the German region while brewing Kolsch and Alt biers. Both of these beers use ale yeast, but part of their brewing process involves lagering. Giving them both lager and ale qualities.
We now fast forward again to a time closer to now, the birth of the Craft Brewing Movement. How does this fit in with the discussion of terrior and style? This time period marked another moment of defining the US terrior of revolution or change. This marks drastic modifications to old styles at times turning them on their ear and recreating them in a new and different light. The Cascadian Dark style is a prime example of this.
I think its time for a pint…