From: Kelheim, Germany
Jimmy Carbone says: "[To understand the American craft beer movement you have to look at] the great beers of Europe that inspired many of us in the '90s to love good beer. While Brooklyn Brewery should be credited for its Brooklyn Lager, which brought back the pre-Prohibition, amber lager style, its biggest contribution to the rise of craft beer in NYC was its import and distribution business (the Craft Beer Guild) in the '90s.
When I was starting out in 1992, buying beer and wine for the Coffee Shop in Union Square, Brooklyn Brewery's Craft Beer Guild sales reps—Ed Raven and Jim Munson—paid me a visit with a box of 50-plus American and European craft and specialty beers. Schneider Aventinus, Duvel, Chimay, Rogue, Sierra Nevada, and Samuel Smith were just a few of the beers that I can remember.
The trusting curatorship that this company brought to the crazy NYC beer and liquor business allowed me to slowly develop the taste for and appreciation of good craft beer. (As a reminder, in 1992 we primarily sold cases of—in this order—Amstel Light, Heineken, and Red Stripe.) The leading European beers—Duvel, Chimay Red, and especially Aventinus—stood out.
Why is Aventinus the most influential beer for me? Many German beers kept up historical traditions into the '90s. And especially on the East Coast, there just weren't too many American options. We didn't even know what craft beer was. Germany still had traditional producers of beer like Schneider, and it was represented well by the Craft Brewers Guild.
Aventinus was everything American beer was not in the '90s—strong, well-balanced, flavorful, and made with tradition. I remember several Oktoberfest-type events where I drank Aventinus exclusively! When I first opened Jimmy's No. 43 in 2005, my first draft lineup (in addition to three lines for local start-up Sixpoint) were all beers I had learned to love 10 years before from the Craft Brewers Guild—especially Aventinus from Schneider.
Dark German wheat and dark bock beers are styles that haven't been adopted by too many American craft breweries. Aventinus—a strong, dark wheat beer—is one of many traditional German beer styles just waiting for enterprising American craft brewers to take up. I choose Aventinus because it represents the great diversity of German beer styles, and it shows us that the American craft brewing industry still has so much potential."