One particularly bruising battle in the broader beer war is between American and Germany. In a way, the difference is akin to the difference in American and German cultures. While Americans value diversity and innovation, German-style beer relies on their traditions that took centuries to perfect.
So, whose beer is truly better? Well, let’s go to the tape.
The History of German Beer
You could say the history of beer is the history of German beer. Beer has been a part of German culture since almost the very beginning, and, even today, Germans are the third-largest consumer of beer in the world, lagging only the Czechs and Irish.
Germany is known for Reinheitsgebot, a law that dates back to the early 1500s. This law governs the purity of beer, and, in its initial iteration, regulated the contents of beer to include water, barley, and hops solely. The law, which still sits in the German legal books, has been updated throughout the centuries to include yeast (which hadn’t been discovered when the law was first created) and some other natural ingredients.
German beer culture is easily recognizable and is usually represented in American culture through the classic beer stein and Oktoberfest. In Munich, Oktoberfest leads to the consumption of over 1.72 million gallons of beer every year.
The Rise of American Beer
While the reputation of domestic American beer hasn’t always been high, the beer culture has grown significantly over recent decades. America has the most breweries in the world, at around 1,500 (Germany is second at 1,300).
The real rise of the American beer scene is paired with the growth of the craft brewer, which began in 1979 with the deregulation of the beer industry by President Jimmy Carter. While large brewing conglomerates like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev still dominate the overall mark, other small, craft breweries have pulled consumers with their creativity, taste, and exclusivity.
Today, America is home to a diverse beer culture that takes notes from the regional differences within the country. The favorability of beer changes with the trends. Currently, hoppier beers are making an impact in the world of craft beers.
Cost vs. Quality
Due to the diverse lineup of American beers, their offerings can run the gamut from low-priced/low-quality to high-priced/high-quality. The lower-priced beers, like Miller, Budweiser, and Coors, are still the dominant beasts, but you’ll find a beer that costs three to five times as much, if not more, sitting right next to the more popular beer in your grocery store’s inventory.
German-style lagers and amber ales, though, tend to stick with consistently high-quality beer at lower prices. In Germany, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a beer that’s significantly more than 1.50 euro, or about $1.67 USD. This is, in part, due to their previously mentioned beer purity laws.
Tradition vs. Innovation
When you have a current law that was already over 200 years old by the time America sought revolution, there’s a chance your beer leans towards the traditional end of the spectrum. Germany doesn’t have a craft beer market like America does, but it’s traditions for beer brewing have been perfected. After all, you don’t need to fix something that isn’t broken.
American beer, though, is experimental. Beers can contain almost any ingredient under the sun. Beers have been brewed with pizza crust, grilled bull testicles, and Jolly Ranchers. Now, whether you’ll readily drink those beers may be another discussion, but the fact that they’re available display the diversity of American beer culture.
Still Not Sure? Let Prost Brewing Convince You
At Prost Brewing, we respect American beers, but we serve German beers because we want to offer the best. Make sure to stop by our brewery today to sample some of our selection of the finest German-style ambers, lagers, and ales.