Tuesday, June 16, 2009

For Those of you Against the Conn-O-Session...

There have been a number of complaints about the Kennett Square BrewFest Connoisseur Session going all session beer this year. The easy response would be, "Bummer, dude. Open your damned mind a little." But that's not right: people are used to the idea of "extreme" beers being where the innovation is taking place in American craft brewing.

So take a look at this -- Shaun Hill, hardly a shrinking violet when it comes to extreme beer -- is returning to the U.S. (to open a new craft brewery) and returning to the Kennett Connoisseur Session...with the following: "I'll bring along some one offs - like a 2 year old Flemish Red, Fresh/Wet Hopped IPA, Smoked Sour Wheat beer (loosely based on a Lichtenhainer - a suggestion by Loren (aka Venom)) - 50% home smoked malt, fermented with Brettanomyces and conditioned with Lacto)." That last one's going to be at the Conn-O-Session, weighing in around 3.9% ABV.

Yeah. Session beers are dull, just bitters and milds. See you at Kennett!


  1. how are the ticket sales for the Conn-O-Session?

  2. When I criticized the Session Beer Project on another blog, Lew said "All I want is MORE CHOICE and MORE VARIETY, which — I thought! — was what this whole craft beer thing was all about." (http://seattlebeernews.com/?p=456#comments) Yet this project continues to limit choice and variety in Kennett, and at other events and festivals nationwide. What say you, Lew?

  3. To be honest, Michael? I don't see your point.

    One, what other events and festivals has the SBP affected? (If there are any, I'd love to publicize them here!) Two, at almost every other connoisseur session I'm aware of, the choices remain the same thing: extreme beers almost exclusively. Three, the Conn-O-Session IS bringing very different beers to Kennett's Brewfest; see the note above, do you see a lot of lichtenhainers?

    What's your beef? This is something different: it puts one limit on the beers to be offered -- 4.5% and under -- but nothing else. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other festivals that are much more limiting: barrel-aged beer fests, strong beer fests, local beer fests, lambic beer fests, lager fests. This is a celebration of brewers' ingenuity at putting great flavor in a beer you can safely have a full pint of...and go back for another.

  4. Lew, you do not see how session beers only limits choice and variety? I know you are smarter than that.

    And you don't know of at least 5 other events during Philly Beer Week that went session only? Come on. And many others are following that lead. If you really need me to list them all, I am happy to.

    I agree that the presence of session beers brings variety; But only when session beers are added to all of the others. But be consistent and promote session beers IN ADDITION to all others.

  5. I fail to see how Michael is not being offered more choice and more variety when we have more breweries making more beers, and more bars are hosting more events.

    What am I missing?

  6. What I SEE, Michael, is that without an advocate, or a focused event, session beers tend get lost in the shuffle. When a brewer decides what beer to bring to a special event of some kind, session beers are the last thing they think of. What I also see is that when they're made available -- Nodding Head, Goose Islane, Earth Bread + Brewery, 21st Amendment, Yards -- they do well. I'm trying to make more people aware of them, and I've noticed a lot more press for them. That's a good thing, as I see it.

    You're worried about five events during Philly Beer Week that were session only? Out of 700? I think you need some sense of proportion. There were wheat-only events, lager-only events, can-only events, Split Thy Skull has been strong-only for years...where was your outrage then?

    Myself, I'm pumped at the idea of an all-session event. Kind of like an all-DIPA event, right? Is that so limiting?

    Seriously, Michael: if the Kennett Brewfest had announced that they were doing an all-DIPA connoisseur session, would you have said a word in protest, or would you have skipped to your computer and camped out till opening moment and bought your ticket with glee? If I'm wrong, tell me.

  7. "con·nois·seur \ˌkä-nə-ˈsər also -ˈsu̇r\
    1. one who enjoys with discrimination and appreciation of subtleties."

    Says it all right there, no? Can't wait to return to this Fest to enjoy some sessionable beers with friends again. Even if half of those on the list aren't on any "ISO! uber rare and LIMITED" tickerati list. I never recall having to bring a notepad and pen to this Fest...



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