About Continental Ales from USA

About Continental Ales from USA
US: From Pilgrims to Pale Ale. Beer has occupied a central position in American culture from the start. This was true even before the craft-brewing revolution, which dramatically increased the beer choices available to consumers. Beer predated the arrival of Europeans to the New World. Columbus noted on one of his expeditions to Central America that the inhabitants drank a fermented corn beverage, while the Aztecs of Mexico produced a beer-like fermented drink made from agave pulp and corn, the ancestor of modern pulque. Of more direct relevance to the beer-drinking history of the Americas is the fact that the Pilgrims on the Mayflower were well provisioned with beer when they set off toward the New World. In fact, their landing choice of Plymouth Rock was dictated by an onboard crisis - the beer supply was running low, and they might be forced to drink just water. Beer has always been a staple of American life, albeit with an ill-conceived pause during National Prohibition. One might argue that many things, including beer, suffered in the headlong dash for the ever more processed and stable foods that defined the post-World War II world of prosperous America. By the mid-1970s, if an ale or lager with flavor was your choice of beer, outside regional holdouts such as Anchor Steam Beer in San Francisco, the Yuengling ales and porters in Pennsylvania and the Augsburger line of lager beers from the Huber Brewery in Wisconsin, there was not much in the way of alternatives to an imported European brew. This situation began to change in the late 1970s, when the tiny New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma, California began brewing a line of English style ales, stouts and porters. Other pioneer craft breweries as Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, California and Pyramid Ales in Washington State soon followed. What we now call craft breweries were originally referred to as boutique breweries, after the new generation of small, local “boutique” wineries that started opening in the 1960s. Their beers were promoted as “all malt” beers, made only from barley malt, hops, water and yeast, to distinguish them from the mass-produced national brands, most of which contained high percentages of barley malt substitutes called “adjuncts” (corn, corn syrup and wheat primarily), which provided fermentable material but resulted in blander brews. The rapid growth of craft brewing spread from California and the Pacific Northwest, where interest in high-quality foodstuffs has always been closer to the cultural mainstream. The American beer renaissance originally focused around the production of ales. This can likely be explained by a number of factors. The first and succeeding generations of home brewers who "went commercial" were inspired by the ales of England, which had been relatively easy to reproduce at home. Home-brewed ales do not require the additional cooling and storage vessels needed for high-quality lager beer production. In a market well-supplied with pale lager, it was a much surer marketing prospect to introduce an amber-colored, hoppy ale rather than a pale-hued lager, even if brewed to exacting German-style purity laws. In more recent years craft lager brewers have begun to catch up, with such breweries as the Capital Brewery in Wisconsin, Bayern Brewing in Montana and Trumer Brauerei Berkeley in California in the forefront. Nowadays, virtually every existing style of beer, along with a few new ones, are being produced in American craft breweries. Craft beers in today’s beer market On a national basis, craft-brewed beers are well on their way to becoming a national staple. According to 2012 figures compiled by the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado, craft-brewed beers grew 15%, totaling over 13 million barrels, and amounted to 6.5% of the total volume of beer sold in the United States. Sales totaled $10.2 billion out of a U.S. total beer market of $99 billion. In some regions, such as the Pacific Northwest, the craft beer market share is now over 20%. Some brewing industry analysts are now predicting that the craft beer share of the national beer market will grow to 20% by 2020. By the end of 2013 the total number of craft breweries (including brewpubs) in the United States was over 2,500. Brewpubs In a world where beer distribution is a tough business that has broken the heart of many a start-up brewer, the brewpub can still offer the rewards of good profitability. Brewpubs, of course, do not have to distribute their beer beyond their premises. In this commercial setting, brewing can be immensely profitable in the right location, and virtually all major cities now boast a number of thriving brewpubs. Typically, you can expect a standard range of amber ales, English-style brown ales, pale ales, stoutsand/or porters. Because of space restrictions, brewpubs generally tend to focus on brewing ales, rather than lagers. All such beers may or may not be named after the brewer, his mood at the time of brewing, his dog, or his first-born child - the naming of beers being possibly the greatest exertion of creativity in a brewer’s working life. The savvy beer hunter should always keep an eye out for cask-conditioned, hand-pumped ales at brewpubs. A brewpub that has made the effort to set up this style of English beer-dispensing system, not as exotically rare as it once was in the United States, is demonstrating a serious approach to ale dispensing that should show itself in the beer that is being brewed. Brewpub brewmasters typically have a lively special event and seasonal schedule that can traverse the entire spectrum of beer styles. Expect to find imperial stouts and barley wines in winter, kölsch and wheat ales in summer, a mandatory Oktoberfest in September, and possibly a maibock in springtime. The only limitation is one’s imagination, which is generally not lacking in this vibrant and growing industry.

Top Picks for USA

Continental Ales

North Coast Brewing Co. Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale
96 points
Dark brick red color. Boozy, fruity, interesting, peppery, spicy aromas of sun dried cherries, fresh ginger, pink peppercorn, and plum shrub with a lightly tannic, shy, frothy, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a warming, elegant, medium-long caramelized sour apple, allspice, candied orange peel, and Christmas fruitcake finish. A deceptively drinkable quad to pair with intensely roasted wild game.
SweetWater Brewing Co. Through the Brambles Sour Ale
94 points
Clear copper color. Medicinal aromas of cherries, red wine barrel, citrus, and vinegar with a soft, tart, finely carbonated, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a graceful, interesting, medium-length cherry syrup, pie crust, and oak finish. A Kriek-like sour beer with dense cherry and jam notes.
Dos Desperados Brewery Fugitive Farmhouse Ale
93 points
Old gold color. Aromas of curry, exotic wood, walnut, and eucalyptus with a chewy, crisp, finely carbonated, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a seamless, very complex, long soy glazed veggies, earth, wildflowers, tomato focaccia, and rosemary finish. A dense, warming special-occasion saison with endless complexity to explore; celebrations call for great friends and this beer.
The Herkimer Pub & Brewery Belgian Blond Ale
92 points
Brilliant golden amber color. Fruity, rubbery, phenolic aromas of old fashioned bubblegum, cherry pits, apple skins, and coriander seed with a round, soft, spritzy, fruity medium body and a smooth, complex, medium-length ripe banana peel, fresh red apple slices, white peppercorns, and soda crackers finish. A classic Belgian Blonde with a fruity bouquet and enough spicy flavors to keep each sip interesting.
All Rise Brewing Co. Reign in Blood Sour Ale
90 points
Cloudy golden amber color. Herbal, floral aromas and flavors of fresh rosemary, geraniums, raspberry leaf, and raspberry sorbet with a tannic, tangy, spritzy, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a smooth, medium-length finish that presents nuances of fruity breakfast cereals, raspberry Danish, white bread crust, and wheat germ finish. A backyard BBQ crusher for beer drinkers and non beer drinkers alike.
Carolina Brewery Sky Blue Kolsch
90 points
Clear light gold color. Aromas and flavors of toasty cheese roll, plantain, floral honeycomb, and coriander with a bright, finely carbonated, dryish medium-to-full body and a polished, medium-length finish with elements of tortilla, arugula and starfruit, and roasted nut finish. A clean and tasty kolsch that refreshes and delights.
Call to Arms Brewing Company Majestic Wolf Lamp Oak-Aged Blended Belgian-Style Sour
89 points
Clear dark bronze color. Aromas of cola nut, plum, black cherry, and malted chocolate with a supple, vibrant, effervescent, fruity sweet medium body and a medium-to-long cherry compote, maple syrup, and toasted walnuts finish. A big complex sour ale for a long Winter night.
Lift Bridge Beer Company Farm Girl Saison
89 points
Pale golden yellow color. Fruity, floral aromas of banana, marzipan, and dried tea with a round, flat, effervescent, fruity light body and a smooth, breezy banana bread, lemon soda, and crackers finish. A fruit-forward saison for hot summer days.
Lift Bridge Beer Company Jibe Talkin Apricot Sour Ale
89 points
Minutely hazy old gold color. Fruity, funky aromas of apricot nectar, pears in syrup, peach tea, and nectarine with a rough, crisp, fizzy, light body and a seamless, odd, medium-length tomato leaf, apricot, and toast finish. A beer with inviting stone fruit flavor and table-friendly style.
The Herkimer Pub & Brewery Belgian Golden Strong Ale
88 points
Brilliant gold color. Aromas of banana bread and white pepper with a soft, fizzy, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a graceful, scant banana nut muffin, rosemary oil, and toasted wheat finish. A light Belgian beer with inviting notes of orange marmalade on toast.