Saturday, February 28, 2009
Right now I have two seasonals that fit the bill, the Ale of Fergus English Brown Ale on at 4.5% and the Ramsey's Draft Stout at 4.1%. My year round Helles, called Gold Leaf Lager is around 4.5% as well.Sounds like a hill trip for a Session is in order.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Hi Lew-And then this from Todd Ashman at Fifty Fifty in Truckee, CA:
I currently have a beer called RecessionAle. It's a 3% small beer that leans towards American Pale Ale. American mild, if you will? We serve it as the lowest priced beer, to go along with the name. It certainly is not getting the love of our 7.5% IPA (which is $1.75 more per pint) but I love drinking a whole growler at home. Delish! Oh, and our two lightest beers (Golden Ale and American Wheat) hover around 4.5%. Cheers!
We are currently making 'Blonde #1' which is a Golden Ale that clocks in at 4.2%. Selling well and gaining new friends all the time...
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Then I asked about the Eel River Organic Pale Ale, and the dude disses pale ale! Said he just didn't think pale ale had much to say. Then he dissed the flagship lineup of Philly Brewing and Brooklyn -- now wait a minute, I said, Brooklyn Lager is delish, I could drink it all day. And the waiter, walking by, does a spit-take laugh and blows a raspberry! "Grow up!" I bellowed. "No one appreciates subtlety any more." So I got a 16 oz. glass of Eel River, at 4.5%, and enjoyed the hell out of it: crisp, hoppy, grassy, light and nimble on the palate, delightful. Ah, me.
Truthfully, the guy did a great job tending bar, talked smart, right on top of things. We had a great time, too, and the apps we got were very nice. But damn me, this strong beer madness gets irritating sometimes.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
So I think we're going to have a run-off. Please take the time to vote again, thanks!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
“A bunch of guys talk in the market,” said Don Feinberg, a founder of Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y., and an importer for Vanberg & DeWulf there. “We’ve all been saying the same thing for about 18 months now, which is, enough of the high octane.”I was quoted briefly, but my main contribution to the piece was directing the writer to some of the other people she talked to. Which is just what I want to do with the Project. I want to help brewers, publicans, retailers, and beer drinkers get together over session beers. That's all. We can do it together: spread the word!
Ordinarily, I'd say this was a good thing. However, I've been sampling Tom Baker's session-strength beers at EB+B since he opened, so I'm going to have to say that this is a totally brilliant thing.
What's even better...I'm putting together another all-session event for Philly Beer Week, and if we can pull it off, I'll make an announcement about that later this week.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Here's the release, from Brewfest beer honcho Jeff Norman:
The board of Historic Kennett Square, along with the Kennett Brewfest committee enthusiastically approved the concept of the Kennett Conn-o-session serving all 4.5% (or close) or less session beers during this years Connoisseur tasting. We are thrilled to follow the lead of “the year of session beer” and look forward to unique offerings from local, regional, national, and international brewers. This is a 180 degree departure from previous Connoisseur tastings at Kennett but no less exciting. We constantly strive to make this event unique with respect to brewfests. I already have commitments from 8 breweries and all have been very enthusiastic.Sorry about getting carried with my usual enthusiastic bolding, but I was pretty excited. Jeff and I have been back and forth on this for about a week, wondering about how to best do this, whether it would be well-received, whether it would even be possible. But Jeff took the bull by the horns, presented it to the Committee, and made it happen.
As Uncle Jack has already noted (Jeff sent the release to both of us, Session Guy and Favorite Son, at the same time, but I was at rehearsal), this may cause some wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst the geekerie. They're used to getting their big fat double everythings with extra helpings of hops and brett. It's risky to piss these folks off, but if they don't want to buy the Conn-o-Session tickets, maybe someone else will get a chance to go!
I've also got word of another session beer festival forming up in California. And the year's just beginning. I'm telling you, folks: this is The Year of Session Beer!
That's why I wrote this piece in Ale Street News, called "An End of Empire?" Here's the heart of it:
Big beers inevitably cost more, and as layoffs domino through the economy, there are fewer dedicated followers with the money to buy them. But still they get bought, because the hype on imperials is reaching into the mainstream, and trendy consumers are willing to pay wine prices for them – for now. One example: Samuel Adams Double Bock was about $8 for a six-pack, a very reasonable price. The new, bigger Imperial Double Bock, part of the Samuel Adams “Imperial Series,” is $10 – for a four-pack, an increase of 80 percent. Beer enthusiasts are getting vocal about prices they think are gouging them.
It isn’t just price, either. With the sale of A-B to InBev, craft brewers are thinking about how to capitalize on their status as true American-owned breweries, and it’s a snap that most Americans don’t want anything imperial. The most common complaint about craft beers is that they have “too much flavor.” Brewers are making the adjustment. Full Sail is doing well with its Session Lager, Harpoon’s booming along with their American hefe, UFO. They’re smelling opportunity, and it’s not in another small-batch, high-end imperial whatzit.
Beer drinkers may be sensing it, too. Here in Philly, Tom “Heavyweight” Baker’s new brewpub, Earth Bread + Brewery, is successfully selling two out of four taps at under 4%, and Yards Brawler, at 4.2%, is seeing a lot of interest and attention. Scott Smith’s East End Brewing in Pittsburgh has a line of Session Ales that have been consistent sell-outs, interesting and drinkable. It’s quiet — no dance music — but it’s happening.
We'll see what happens. I just got word of a major session beer event...and I don't think it's going to be the only one this year.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Two sample paragraphs:
"Strength doesn’t, I think, have that much to do with it," [Martyn Zythophile"] Cornell said firmly. "What makes a good session beer is a combination of restraint, satisfaction, and ‘moreishness.’ Just like the ideal companions on a good evening down the pub, a good session beer will not dominate the occasion and demand attention; at the same time its contribution, while never obtrusive, will be welcome, satisfying, and pleasurable. And yet, though each glass satisfies, like each story in the night’s long craic, the good session beer will still leave you wishing for one more pint, to carry on the pleasure."
Then relax and enjoy. That’s one of the best things about session beers: you can think about something besides your next beer. You can finally become more of a beer drinker, and less of a beer geek. And you and your friends will find that you have more in common than just beer, and maybe you’ll learn a new card game, and maybe – could we get another round? Yeah, the same – you’ll make some new friends, and maybe instead of constantly beer-hunting, you’ll become a regular and develop a local pub. Hey, even Michael Jackson had a local.
Hope you can find it, hope you enjoy it!
Monday, February 9, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Thanks for sending us your link and your thoughts about something I'm really big on too! I'll definitely check out your blog, and I may even be able to post the link with one of the Big Brew recipes this year, English Mild. (It appears that this year's Big Brew recipes aren't up yet; I'll link to them here when they are. Meantime, here's last year's Chiswick Bitter recipe (in all-grain, or extract-plus), an ordinary bitter brewed in honor of the extraordinary life of Michael Jackson.) I have been championing session beers for some time now, and the mild recipe will be the one I brew for Big Brew.
As for your reader's comments about having a competition for session beers, we had a Low Gravity/Session Beers Club-Only Competition 2 years ago (February 2007) that was hosted by the Maltose Falcon Brewing Society club who are renowned for their giant beers. (Results are here; and the Maltose Falcons may be renowned for giant beers, but as I found out, they do a pretty damned good mild, too!)
The Club-Only Competitions (COCs) are the only competitions the AHA puts on apart from the National Homebrew Competition. The COC schedule is currently booked through May 2012 and there is one session style competition scheduled for January/February, 2010, a year from now. That competition is being hosted by the Impaling Alers in Kent, WA.
The styles for the COC are for the most part chosen by the hosting club from a list I provide. My policy is to not repeat a BJCP style for 3 years, so my available BJCP style list is always changing. I don't see the AHA specifying a Session Beers competition to be one of the 6 COCs each year, but I could be wrong.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Most of the beer we get for cask consumption is session ale. We also get a knock about the great number of European Sessions we have on tap but with the bulk of consumption during our Live English Soccer matches being between 7am and noon, that is what our clientele likes to drink. And as you say, the volume of sales makes up for the Hophead's disappointment."Volume of sales." That's session beer in a nutshell for the bar owner. Once you start serving a tasty, drinkable beer that doesn't get your customers all banged up, you'll see them drinking more and more of it. Everyone's happy...but not too happy. Which is the whole point.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Okay, I'll admit it, I'd like to go to a session fest again too. It's so good to drink for two or three hours and not get all polluted!
For almost a year, I’ve been saying how much I’d like to see a Seattle session beer festival. All the festivals here are packed with double this, imperial that, with everything at 7% ABV or higher. There are always a few solid, lower alcohol options, but those are in the minority. How cool would it be to go to a beer fest and have 20 samples (hopefully most of which were flavorful and interesting), and come away with nothing more than a slight buzz?
So I’m carrying the flag for Bryson’s cause here in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe we can get local brewers to consider making styles we don’t normally see in these parts: milds, bitters, a variety of lagers, etc. Who knows? If this movement gains momentum, maybe Seattle Session Fest will become a reality.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
But after everything was over, I walked down to Red White and Brew, a small but well-stocked package store just down High Street that I've been using for a few years now when I have a tasting in the area. I needed to pick up some beers for a beer cocktail piece I'm writing, and RW&B always has good stuff. And while I was looking, I saw bottles of Tomos Watkin's Cwrw Brâf, a wonderful session ale (4.2%) from Wales. "Ho ho," I called out, "you've got the Cwrw Brâf! This is great!" And the wonderful woman at the counter (Stacey?) says, "I've got cases of the OSB, too, only $18." Bonus, I'd been wanting to try it! So I came home with 4 bottles of Cwrw Brâf, and a case of OSB (4.5%).
Good session drinking for Super Bowl, coming right up!