Bar Tending & Beerspectives
by Matt Martinkovic
Brewsearch & Development -
Nik's Wunderbar - Whitehouse Station NJ
Belgium v. USA in the World Cup  was some game but what if the two nations faced off in
beer?  The Americans have the spunk, the vigor and a willingness to try anything. The
Belgians have the art, the creativity and the tradition of world-class success. U.S. craft beer
makers have taken ideas from their venerable peers in Belgium, Britain and elsewhere,
just as U.S. Soccer benefits from its players' experience on European clubs.

Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery writes in his Oxford Companion to Beer, that beer
ideas have traveled both ways.  "Slowly, the influence has crept back in the other direction
as well," Oliver says. "Belgian brewers are experimenting with bold hop character, long
the signature of the American craft brewing movement."

U.S. brewers are justifiably world famous for India Pale Ale, a style defined by hoppiness.
This is a beer with backbone and power, not afraid of its own pungency.  For the Belgians,
the discussion has to start with the Trappists. After all, the monks were crafty before craft
beer was crafty. And they're legendary: The Westvleteren 12, one of the highest-rated beers
in the world, caused a sensation when it was briefly imported to the U.S. in 2012.  
After astounding you with Trappist ales, the Belgians only get more complex, with funky
saisons, lighterwitbiers and aged sour beers breaking off in startling new directions.  

The Americansanswer with a rock-solid lineup of stouts that are strong in every sense of the
word, often giving the drinker a rich glass of charred darkness that is unforgettable.

The U.S. side has another secret weapon: beating the Belgians at their own game. Consider
that American brewers such as California's The Bruery, Wisconsin's New Glarus and New
York's Ommegang have excelled at making saisons, sour beers and Belgian-style ales.

In a surprise to some, the winning Belgian-style tripel at the most recent World Beer
Cup was from Delaware's Dominion Brewing! Adding more prestige to US efforts was that
fact that despite Belgium's Rodenbach winning gold in the aged sour beer category the
silver went to the Funky Jewbelation, made by Shmaltz Brewing in New York.

As for common ground, note that consider that AB InBev,  owns trademark beer
companies in both the U.S. (with Budweiser) and Belgium (with Stella Artois),

I hope you're enjoying the World Cup as much as I am.  Don't forget we have some
very special beers (and I do mean
very) coming in almost daily  for the duration of the
tournament so please stop by often as possible since our lineup is constantly
changing.  Some of these brews will never bee seen again on our shores.

Thanks for reading my column.  One last thing, please sign up for our special mailing list next
time you're in Nik's Wunderbar.  And of course, be sure to say hello to me every time you're
there.  After all, that's what's best about the craft beer culture - the great people you meet!


And don't forget my friends at the  Northside Lounge,
100 Brooks Boulevard, Manville, NJ 08835     908-722-7712
Matt Martinkovic is not only a recognized beer authority but a well known ecological writer whose
work has appeared in the The American Midland Naturalist (University of Notre Dame) among other
industry publications.  He also has been an agricultural consultant on, of course, the growing of hops.
Belgium v. USA  in Beer, Not "Football"
To all my readers and friends, please stop in and say hello to me at my new home, the great
Nik's Wunderbar,    It's an exclusive Bavarian beer hall and beer garden focusing on
German dishes and German brews. The staff wears traditional Bavarian dress too!
454 Route 22 West Whitehouse Station, NJ 08888
For Matt's latest Wunderbar Newsletter click HERE