Variety and Selection Sets America Apart From Even Places Like Germany, Says Belgian Beer Importer
The statement was as bold as the beer he was drinking, a 10.5% Belgian import called Gulden Draak.
But Steve Villani, president of Belgian craft importer Global Beer Network, was sticking to his words. “The United States is the best beer country on the planet,” he proclaimed.
You could almost feel the table shake with those heavy glass 1-liter beer mugs being slammed to the table in Germany in protest, sense a tidal wave of fury making its way across the Atlantic from Ireland, even a loud laugh coming from Belgium.
But he’s got a point that is hard to argue.
“As a consumer in this country, you can find beers from all over the planet,” Villani said. “You can walk into almost any bar and find a huge selection of beers. (The place where he said this, at Tony P’s in Marina del Rey, CA, features more than 100 beers.) “In Germany, you find what they have at the bar, maybe five or six selections. Same thing for most places in Europe, where a lot of the bars are owned by the breweries. You only have a choice of what they make.
“You can’t get beer selections like we have in the United States in any other country in the world. Plus, American craft brewers are brewing some great beer.”
And that’s why he’s right from a selection standpoint. He’s not saying the U.S. produces the best beers in the world, he’s saying the choices available to beer drinkers are unmatched anywhere else on the planet. From Bud Light to complex local craft brews, there’s something for everyone and it’s readily available just about anywhere.
It’s like comparing going food shopping in Europe to that in the States. Instead of going to a baker for bread, a butcher for meat and a market for produce, American consumers have huge grocery stores like Von’s, Ralph’s, Kroger Publix that have everything in one place. Supermarkets, we call them.
Well, many of our bars are just that: Super beer bars. Look at the Yard House, the national chain of restaurant breweries in which more than a hundred taps circle a large bar. An expanding chain out of Tampa called World of Beers has 50 brews on tap.
Villani, of course, wants to get his Global Beer Network beers into as many of those places as possible. It has some of its beers at the Yard House, World of Beers, BJ’s Brewhouse and, of course, Tony P’s in Los Angeles. They are also sold in specialty stores such as Whole Foods and some supermarkets in 47 states.
Its biggest seller is Wittekerke, a refreshing wheat beer in which the wheat aspects are barely discernible, which is perfect for me because I’m not a particularly big fan of wheat beers. It is especially popular in Florida, which makes sense considering how hot it gets in the Sunshine State.
Then there is that 10.5% Gulden Draak and also a 10.5% Piraat, neither of which packs the knee-wobbling powerful punch normally associated with such high-alcohol beers.
“We have a great opportunity for growth in the U.S.,” Villani said. “It’s a great beer drinking country because this market get it.”
See more the beers of Global Beer Network on its website, www.globalbeer.com.