Imported beers on the other hand offer an entirely different type of lifestyle enhancement. First off, there is the assumption that if the beer has been imported especially a great distance it must be something special or it wouldn’t have been worth all the cost and effort. It is assumed that the additional cost of shipping is a necessary overhead and influence on the price of imported beer. The fact that it is imported indicates that there is a demand, and if there is a demand for this particular beer it must be something special.
In the early 1990s there was a beer exported from the province of Saskatchewan that went by the name of “Grizzly”. The beer was packaged in 12 ounce crown capped green glass bottles with a front label that prominently displayed a grisly reared up on its hind legs. One of the two major Canadian brewing companies produced this beer. It was quite simply an effervescent relatively low alcohol malt beverage. In New York City, and particularly the borough of Queens, where there is a large Korean community, this beer sold tens of thousands of cases. The reason it sold tens of thousands of cases had very little to do with what was in the bottle. It had a great deal to do with the position that the grizzly bear has in Korean culture.
Every year at the end of September and the beginning of October you can expect to find St. Pauli Girl Oktoberfest on tap at any place that favors this particular German Festival. Satisfied to toast this event with only an authentic German beer, party goers across the United States will hoist a stein or two of this particular product. Should the truth be known? The truth is that the beer is actually brewed in Germany, however St. Pauli Girl is not a brand sold in Germany. And if it was it would have a very specific market. The fact is, in Germany, a “St. Pauli Girl” is a prostitute.
And so the question is what makes an imported beer so special?
An imported beer is particularly special to someone who has been to where the beer is brewed and is aware of the social cultural and culinary importance of that beer. This consumer is someone who has tasted the beer at the source and is probably aware of the brewery’s history. The involvement and associations that this consumer brings to the table cannot be underestimated.
And imported beer is also particularly special to someone who wishes they have been where the beer is brewed. Romantic notions concerning the brewery, in the area of a particular country that it comes from, are quite often enhanced by the labeling, packaging, and advertising of that product. Should one care to buy into the ambiance created by the advertising the sounds of Alpine yodeling should accompany the opening of every Bavarian beer. The popularity of these beers can only be an indication a great many people have very sensitive ears and are able to hear Alpine yodeling halfway around the world, or that the beer itself is particular enough to hold the attention of the consumer. Considering the product that dominates the North American beer market, any additional or unusual flavor that is part of an imported beers flavor profile will serve to draw attention to itself.
Finally, the fact that brewers go to such effort to brew beer for export gives the curious consumer at least one good reason to try a particular beer. The fact that some beers are considered important in some cultures results in an active ex-patriot market. And in this culture, a super premium price naturally assures us super premium product.
And that’s why imported beers are so special…