What Three Floyds Brewing had on offer at the Great American Beer Festival.
Sort of makes me wish I read German.
How did they taste Stan?
Excellent beers, Andrew. They didn’t transport me to Bavaria ;<( but they wouldn’t seem out of place there.
Beers you wanted more than an ounce of.
I’ll address the dreaded “better” question with an entry tomorrow or the next day.
This sign symbolically proves a point I made in an earlier post about American brewers “copying” foreign beers. They are not actually copying these beers, they are reinterpreting them as an American beer. Nothing wrong with that if they didn’t try to give the impression that it was a copy, not an attempt at reinterpretation.
The “German” looks like it was written by someone who took a week or two of the language in high school. The expression is actually an American one which has been translated word by word to German. Since the expression is American, it would make no sense to a German. (Much as, I assume, the beer from that brewery would more likely taste American to the German.)
For example, in Dutch a fairly common expression is “onder andere”. Translate that to English and it’s: under others, which makes no sense.
Have American brewers mastered American beer styles so completely that they need to look for new challenges in other countries?
Mike – Gorch Fock, which according to Wikipedia was the name of a ship and writer of historical importance in Germany, tasted like beer. Not American beer or German beer but beer. It had more hop character than you’d find in Munich this days, more like the countryside of northern Bavaria.
A key difference between German and American breweries is the brew a few different beers approach vs. experiment with many – taking inspiration from wherever. As an aside, I think it’s fair to say that Three Floyds Alpha King is an example a “completely mastered” beer (substitute the word s***le if you must).
Stan, I’m not going to argue with you about Gorch Fock, other than to say that it was the _pseudonym_ of a minor writer in Germany (he wrote in his region’s local dialect).
My point was simply that they have made what, I assume, is a beer intended for their customers (at their brewpub in Indiana), yet wrapped it in the mystique of an exotic foreign beer — ie, using (crap) German on the sign, naming it after the pseudonym of a rather obscure minor German writer, etc. I did not say and have no reason to say that it is not a good beer.
It is YAEM (yet another example of marketing) which has a questionable relation to the product. What else was the point of using “German” on the sign or naming it after an obscure writer? To generate interest in their products, right?
The industrial brewers (everywhere) use marketing as their main sales effort. If the microbrewers want to be called “craft brewers” why do they use the same dishonest approach to sales the industrial brewers use?
Come on Mike. The sentence is perfect. To what it refers, I have no idea though.
We are getting a pretty big laugh out of this today at work, mostly at Mike’s expense I’m happy to say. It’s hard to know where to start, but #1 Bin ish schwarz genug for dich? “Am I black enough for you” is a direct reference to Schooly D’s Am I Black enough for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v40ainAHkRo
Naming a traditionally brewed German-style schwarz after that song but using a German version (translated by two different Germans, a German Maltster, and a friend from Bamberg so that it would make sense to a native German but I digress) is mostly a playfully irreverent joke; like most of the things that we do here. I’ve had a lot of really mediocre schwarz beers in Germany that are most likely nothing more than a pils with Sinmar added to it for color. While Stan said it didn’t carry him off to Bavaria, we think it’s pretty indicative of what we think that s**ly of beer should taste like. Basically saying is this Traditional enough for you? I guess we could name all of our beers something boring like “American interpretation of a beer brewed in Germany that’s black in color” but that would be a boring mouthful. It doesn’t have anything to do with wrapping mystique around anything. We make the beers that we want to drink and as it turns out a lot of other people want to drink them too.
Gorch Fock, as well as being a writer’s pseudonym, is the name of a German Frigate, and our friend’s Noise Band in Austin. http://www.australiancattlegod.com/gorchfock.htm It’s Weird, It’s Not Normal, it’s just about like everything we do here.
The reason that you don’t see Alpha King on the floor is precisely the crux of entering beers to GABF. It’s based on categories. Where does Alpha King fit in Mike? I doubt you would have a very accurate answer even if you had tried it. If we want to participate in GABF and World beer cup then we have to find where our beers fit in within the context of the competition. Those are about the only two things we participate in regarding marketing by the way. We don’t advertise, we don’t spend money on test panels, etc.
And as far as “questionable relation to the product” I think you’re just entirely out of context. Building a story behind your brand and getting people interested in what you do is kind of the point isn’t it? Where is the dishonest part?
They could have also used the babelfish translator. Little to no effort there.
I wouldn’t necessarily call naming a beer in a brewpub anything more than elementary marketing, more of the brewer goofing off. You’ve likely spent more time analyzing the name more than the brewer spent naming it. That makes it honest. And it’s funny too.
If the writer had stayed for the third week of class, he/she would at least have written the German correctly: Bin Ich Schwartz genug für Sie? I had assumed it referred to the beer, but perhaps they taught third-person pronouns in the fourth week.
Swordboarder, I assume they had used an online translator. The problem with those is that they do only literal translations. So, plug in an American term, for example, and you’ll get a literal translation of it. Like this instance, for example.
If this were an isolated case of a small brewer naming his beer after something or someone obscure and trying to surround it with mystique, you might have a point. But, it happens all the time, from what I see. The small brewers have simply followed the industrial brewers in selling by marketing instead of trying to produce a quality product.
My rebuttal is this: What do you name a quality product?
My thought is that they’re spending so much time being serious about brewing a quality product that they’re blowing off steam in naming their beer something completely ridiculous and hilarious.
I think you’re looking into this a bit too closely. Three of those beers, including the schwarz are brewpub/limited draft only beers that are only available in a very few local pubs that FFF has good relationships with.
Also, I think FFF has something like 5 employees. That doesn’t leave much time scheming up master marketing plans, or German lessons. I would guess they were just goofing around.
So basically Mike’s response is that he has a lot of assumptions and almost no concrete examples to back up his claims.
If you want to argue about the linguistics, we used the informal “dich” because we thought it fit the tone of the song better than the formal “sie.”
Swordboarder, what to name a product? Well, one big difference I see is that small American breweries tend make many different beers, each of a different type. In Europe, especially Germany, brewers tend to make only 2 or 3 different beers. I think that makes it a lot easier, especially when they use names like Helles, Dunkeles, Kellerbier, Festbier, etc.
Why not cut back to 5-10 different beers? Certainly coming up with good names would be a lot easier.
brewer a: couldn’t let the beer speak for itself?
HAH so now we are only supposed to make a few different styles of beer for the sake of giving them subjectively “good” names?
Clearly you come from a far different school of thought from our entire industry, mike. And of all the breweries to accuse of “letting the beer speak for itself,” you picked us?
And now you’re arguing in circles. What are we supposed to call a schwarz beer that we make? If we call it Schwarz then wouldn’t that be a lie because we aren’t german brewers making german beer? Or are we only allowed to make “american beers.” It seems to me like you are trying to have it both ways.
Brewer a: You are quite correct that I come from a different school. I did not mean to single you out, but Stan posted that picture above and it just seemed to me a perfect example of what I have been saying for a while (including just above): microbreweries following the industrial brewers in using cynical marketing efforts to sell more product.
Why do you ask if you should call a beer a Schwarz beer? Why don’t you make American beers and call them what they are? Just as the Germans and the Belgians do. Why do you have to make 25 different beers? Why not just find out what sells and keep making those? I suspect that “newness” sells, but if your customers keep coming back for something new, once you stop or slow down, they’ll stop coming.
Sometimes common sense is just the best way of doing something.
Mike: I apologize repeating my comment way above, the American approach is different. There are a world of choices. You are correct that beers brewed in America should be called American beers, but there’s nothing wrong with a brewer visiting Bavaria, saying “hey, I like that” and brewing a similar beer. What matters if they are well made – and these were/are.
Mike, you make me smile because you’re describing how I plan on running my marketing in my own brewery if I ever get around to starting it.
You also have pointed out the problem that many mid-sized microbreweries have discovered: you have to keep making a new “flavor of the month” to stay on at some of the rotating handles in some of the bigger cities.
Stan, I have no problem with the scenario you describe. Where I do have a problem (as I have said multiple times and in this post several times as well) is where the brewer pretends that it’s something it’s not. In this case, why did the brewer print the sign in German and name the beer after an obscure minor German writer?
Make the beer, write the sign in English (which is, after all, the language virtually all your customers can read) and give the beer a name which might be descriptive or somehow give the customer an idea of what to expect and then sell it. Is that really such a bizarre concept?
So long as brewers keep reading (and believing) what they read on Rate/Advocate, this kind of nonsense will continue and microbrewing will remain a blip on the radar in the US beer market.
Swordboarder: it’s nice to hear that common sense is not so obscure as it seems by reading some of the comments here. I wish you luck and, if you make some beers of which you are especially proud, I hope you’ll export them to Europe so I can try them.
Mike – 3 Floyds is not pretending these beers are anything they are not. They are brewed to be consumed at the pub, where customers get much more of a description of what to expect than they would were “helles” or “schwarz” in the name. They didn’t bring beer to GABF to expand their market – they can’t keep up with demand as it is.
And, Dave (Swordboarder), I vote that you continue to brew beers for local consumption rather than export.
Stan – Please, if that’s the case, explain for me why the sign was written in German and the beer was named after a minor and obscure German writer. Thanks.
Andrew’s explanation above seems pretty clear to me.
Also, for the record, Three Floyds was doing this sort of “it’s not normal” stuff long before the beer rating sites existed.
I’m struggling to see the problem here, Mike. Brewers large and small are in the business of selling beer and a distinctive name helps them market it. Two of my favorite beers that I had on my last trip to England are called Snecklifter and World’s Biggest Liar. These are from a small brewery that has been on the same site for over 125 years, so I assume it’s not them giving in to silliness from Rate/Advocate (although they are owned by Marston but run independently, for full disclosure). What kind of beer is Fuller’s London Pride or Timothy Taylor Landlord or Worthington White Shield, etc. etc?
Maybe fuel for thought for a new post, eh Stan?
Stan, seems to me his explanation is, um, convenient. The German sign is quoted from an English rap song? And this has exactly what to do with beer in general or this beer specifically? And the beer name comes from a (defunct?) band in Texas? It seems like a bit of a reach to me. Is it just coincidence that the beer is said to be “German-style. Nah, couldn’t be that they want to give the impression this is an actual German beer. Or that they wouldn’t mind if someone had that impression.
I thought you used to be a journalist. Isn’t normal, healthy scepticism part of your modus operandi any more?
I don;t get the problem either. Mike, the beer is called “Bin ich schwarz genug fur dich?” because people at the pub will ask “What does that mean?”, will get told “Is it black enough for you?”, then will laugh and enjoy the beer. Does that really bother you? They named Gorch Fock to pay homage to a friend’s band, whose name may or may not pay homage to the boat or the writer. Does that really bother you?
Neither of the names refer to a foreign beer style, so how is using the names wrapping them in the mystique of a foreign beer? Are you saying that brewers should not pick names for beers? That they should always be named Brewery X Helles-style beer or Brewery Y tripel-style beer?
Who cares why/how the beer gets named, so long as it isn’t offensive? After you try it once, it’s the beer that leads you to decide whether you ever drink it again.
Mike – That’s rude.
I was at this brewery when it was only a few months old. You wren’t. This is a genuine story. I’ve now said that how many times in these comments? An honest story, good beer, live with it.
“Is it just coincidence that the beer is said to be “German-style. Nah, couldn’t be that they want to give the impression this is an actual German beer.”
This makes no sense Mike. Of course it isn’t actual German beer, it’s brewed at a brewpub in Indiana. Does anyone mistake Indiana for Germany? The style of beer they are brewing originated in Germany, hence calling it “German-style”.
I’m amazed at how offended you are by brewers naming their beers certain things. My daughter’s name is Kaleigh. My wife is of English, German and Jewish descent. I’m of Mexican, Belgian and Native American descent. Am I offending you by falsely presenting my blond haired, blue-eyed, olived-skinned daughter as Irish because of the name I gave her? Should I just call her “Girl?”
I will always plan on brewing beers for local consumption. If I ever want to expand, I plan on building a new brewery at the place I plan to expand to. The plan will be flagship beer and two local products at each location. Lofty goals, no?
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