Friday, January 30, 2009

Another Country Heard From

The ball is rolling. Joe Stange at Thirsty Pilgrim, an American blogging about beer while living in Brussels (the dog!), has posted this about Belgian session beers. Most American beer geeks don't realize it, but Belgium has just as strong a session beer -- "table beer" -- tradition as their strong beer tradition. The UK gets it, the Czechs get it, Belgians get it...what more examples do you want, folks?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Pints...okay, more like, maybe, 20 pints

Since I've declared this to be The Year of The Session, and we're getting some traction, we need to start pushing the idea. Every good blog campaign has a graphic, a logo: Jeff Alworth's Honest Pint Project, our own beer blogfest The Session (guess I can't use that), Rick Lyke's outstandingly appropriate Pints for Prostates... I'm behind the curve here!

So I'm asking for a logo. I'm good with words, but I suck at creating graphics. I'd like something fairly simple, but not cheesy. The log should include at least one glass of beer -- more or the suggestion of more would be good -- and I'd prefer a photo of a beer rather than a graphic. It should include the words "Session Beer Project", and room for the winner of the upcoming tagline poll (leave space for about five words, dummy in some lorem ipsum in the chosen font, and we'll fill in the tagline later), and a small "" along one of the margins. I would prefer to avoid light green and orange...just don't like 'em.

I can't afford much, but I will pay $50 for all rights to the winning logo. I don't like to work for free either, but I do work for cheap sometimes. If this doesn't produce one I think is just right, I'll hold off and try again later. My judgment is final, of course: this isn't a contest, it's a project.

So if you've got that creative flair, let it fly! Show me what you think crystalizes the idea of the Session Beer Project. You'll get the pleasure of having helped with the Session Beer Project, you'll get that fifty bucks, and you'll get a design credit. Wow, living the dream...have another session beer, bucko.

Pennsylvania's newest brewpub onboard with SBP

Just got a copy of the e-letter from Old Forge Brewing, the new brewpub in Danville, PA (thanks to Sam Komlenic for forwarding it to me). Sounds like things are going well: sales are strong enough that they're having to brew often to keep the taps full, they've started live music, and the chef is now doing weekly specials. But the lead item, the one that caught my eye, was this:

For the past few weeks we had a "name that beer" competition. The ale is an easy drinking British mild, light bodied but dark and malty, a low alcohol session ale. The name that was chosen is Sensessionale! We did have some suggestions that we would like to share with you, hoping that it brings a smile to your face as they did for us: "Thomas had a big brown beaver ale", "I'm not larry ale", "what the ale", and "braveheart ale – long live William Wallace" and some others that aren't fit to print! A big 'Thank you' goes out to everyone who tried to "name that beer".

That's what I like to hear! Old Forge is on the breaking front of the newest wave in American brewing: session beer. Okay, maybe I'm overstating it to make my point, but maybe not. I'm seeing a lot more interest in session beers, and I'm going to predict right here that the Session Beer category at the 2009 GABF will see a large increase over the number of entries in 2008 (33), and there may be more in the two Mild Ale categories as well.

Cheers to Sensessionale and the folks at Old Forge! Can't wait to get up there and try some.

(previously posted on Seen Through A Glass -- the only time this will happen, promise!)

It's Official

After a couple years on this thing -- on and off, actually -- I'm doing what I should have done then, and giving The Session Beer Project a home. I'm sensing a shift in the beer currents -- that's what my February "Steaming Pile" column in Ale Street News is about, I'll link as soon as it's up -- and I think that this is going to be a big year for the comeback of session beer in America.

What's going to happen? Don't know yet. But I'm going to do what I can to get the word out on session beers -- see the definition at the top right of the page -- and see what we can do to get brewers to make them, bars to carry them, and you, my friends, I'm going ask you to drink them.

Brewers and importers: if you've got year-round beers that are under 4.5% ABV, that are flavorful -- sorry, no mainstream light lagers need apply, that's just how it is -- and available, let me know. If you can, send samples (along with notes on distribution): I'll be happy to post tasting notes here. If we're right -- and by 'we' I mean myself, some influential bar owners I know, and some industry people -- there is a market waiting for tasty, lower-alcohol beers, and the good one that makes it to market first is going to have a substantial edge. Start thinking.

Bar and restaurant owners/managers (and that means you brewpub folks, too): if you get the right session beer on -- meaning one that tastes good -- you can substantially increase your sales. Think about it: would you rather sell thirty glasses of El Mondo Grosso Imperial Stout at $6 a glass, or seventy-five glasses of Lulu's Luscious Ale at $4 a glass? Session beer is good at the register, and it's safer for your customers (and your liability). It also makes your bar a more attractive spot for folks who want to hang out for more than an hour, and not get all drunked up (and isn't that the kind of customer you want?).

Drinkers! It's a common taunt: "People who drink light beer don't really like beer; they just like to pee a lot." Well...if you're going out to drink beer, why get hammered on two or three huge beers? If you really like to drink beer, why not find a good, flavorful session beer and have five? I mean...if you like drinking beer, and the conviviality and social fun that goes with it, why not have a beer that lets you keep doing that longer?

Session Beer in '09. Working to make it happen.