Domestics vs. Imports: What You Need to Know

There are hundreds of styles of beers you can find all over the world, and a never-ending list of beers for you to try. In addition to splitting beers into categories based on styles, however, you can also split them into domestic vs. import.

The basic idea in the difference between domestic vs. import beer is simple: the former come from the United States, while the latter come from elsewhere. Let’s take a quick look:

  • Domestic beers include some of the major distributed beers like Miller, Coors, Budweiser, Blue Moon and Michelob. You can also find beers from smaller microbreweries and craft breweries made in the United States.
  • Imported beers can come from any other country in the world. Popular examples include Heineken, Corona, Guinness, Krombacher and Labatt.

Within each of those categories are many different styles of beer. Whether a beer is domestic or imported won’t tell you much about how it will taste, so if you are trying to choose a beer that fits your palate’s desires, you’ll have to know a bit more about the individual beers.

What types of beer are best with dinner?

This is a question our supper club receives a lot, and the answer really depends on the flavor profile you’re looking for. While some types of domestic and imported beer pair well with certain types of foods, it ultimately comes down to your personal preference. Let’s take a quick look at some styles and some ideal pairings:

  • Light lagers: Light lagers and pilsners are the palest type of beer, usually low in alcohol and made to be crisp and refreshing. These include Miller, Pabst and Budweiser, as well as many craft examples. They do not have a strong flavor or hop profile. Their crispness and refreshing nature make them ideal for any type of food, but especially with spicy dishes.
  • Wheat beers: Wheat beers feature a mixture of wheat and barley grains, with a bit more sweetness than standard lagers. Occasionally brewers will add citrus. Again, they’re versatile, but often paired with spicy foods or salads.
  • IPAs: The India pale ale is a very popular style in craft brewing. They’ll typically have a golden or amber hue with a more bitter flavor, which can produce some citrusy tones. They are versatile for pairings.
  • Amber ales: Amber ales, or pub ales, have an amber or reddish color and have a balanced malty flavor with a crisp finish. They’re ideal for pub foods and pizzas.
  • Dark lagers: These beers are popular in Europe, and in Germany are referred to as “schwartzbiers.” They’ll range from a caramel brown color to a dark black. They have a sweet flavor with a bit less dryness than amber ales, and are a great pairing with comfort foods.
  • Brown ales: Brown ales lack the bitterness of other medium-colored beers, and are more similar to porters or stouts. They are great to pair with sausages, barbecue, fish and roast pork. Newcastle is perhaps the most popular example.
  • Porters: A British original, the porter is dark but often mild, with a roasted flavor and aroma. They’re frequently made with ingredients that provide notes of chocolate, coffee and caramel. Pair them with other rich, deep foods.
  • Stout: Stouts have a dark black color, and may or may not be high in alcohol content depending on the way they’re brewed. Guinness, for example, has a very low ABV, but some bourbon barrel stouts may have an ABV similar to wine. They’re a great pairing for rich foods and desserts.

For more information about domestic vs. import beer and beer pairings, be sure to ask your bartender during your next visit to the Hotel Seymour Supperclub!

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