Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Voice in Support of SBP

Got this note from Steve Gale, one of the founders and operators of the Burgundian Babble Belt, the place to go for talk about Belgian beers (and Belgian-style, and European beer in general, and other stuff). He tried to respond to the previous post, but his software didn't want to talk to Blogger's software, so he just e-mailed it to me. Take it away, Steve.

Kennett Square BrewFest planners - my hat's off to you. I have been to too many tasting events where it has become apparent that the beers which are held in high esteem are the extreme ones. It breaks my heart that the beer world seems to have become so hard of tasting. So I guess it's no big surprise that some would see a session beer direction as limiting choice and variety. My God. I mean, would anyone say that about the Extreme Beer Festival? How much more limiting is an event that only offers behemoths? But that's sacred, it doesn't matter that the world offers far more variety with low to medium alcohol, non-hop monster brews, if you only offer beers that bludgeon your palette you're a hero.

I don't mean to suggest insult, but IMO if you cannot see variety and choice potential in a strict session beer environment, you really don't get beer. Session beers can be sour, spicy, malty, hoppy, smoky, funky, sweet, bready, fruity, dry, chocolately, roasty, simple, complex, etc. Thank you, Kennett Square, for standing up to the "if its not >9% its not top 10 material" mindset that has taken hold. And thank you Lew, for working to bring back value to non-sledge hammer brews.

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!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Great session beer coverage in DRAFT magazine!

Zak Stambor interviewed me a while back for a piece on session beers for DRAFT magazine, and the article's out and available online. It's a good piece, and has links to SBP, but the great thing is that it covers session beer in a national beer mag, quotes folks from two exceptional brewers (Greg Hall of Goose Island and Tom Kehoe of Yards) that both have session beers as strong-selling year-round beers, and Stambor doesn't feel the need to take Maxim-style shots at session beer as being weak or unmanly. Thanks for that, Zak.

It's a good piece. Go read it, and send it to your friends.

Mikkeller? A Session Beer? Alright!

As a spelling geek, I hate the construction "alright." It's "all right," dammit. But I'm willing to let the Danes at Mikkeller use it, since they've put it on the label of a brett-fired session beer, It's Alright, which is a spunky, funky 4.5%. Read Minnesota beer blogger ("Legal Beer") Beckel's review of it here.

With darlings of the extreme beer set like Mikkeller (Beer Geek Brunch (Weasel), Black As Hell, Mikkel's Monster) making session-strength beers, maybe we'll start getting through to people who think life begins at 8%.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Conn-o-Session tickets selling briskly

Folks, the Kennett Square Brewfest organizers took a bold step this year. Their Connoisseur Session has been one of the real showcases for adventurous brewing, an anticipated and greatly enjoyed event. This year, they decided to have a "Conn-o-Session," a Connnoisseur Session of all Session Beers.

To tell the truth, we -- the brewfest organizers and I -- loved the idea, but didn't know how it would go over with you, the beer festival-loving public. It was a gamble. We'd received some very negative feedback from folks who, honestly, sounded like they were only interested in high-alcohol beers. Hmmmm... We worried a bit.

I'm feeling pretty good right now. I just heard from the festival organizers: tickets went on sale this morning at 7, and at 10:30, they had already sold 104 of the 300 tickets. You like session beer, you really like it!

Get your tickets: I'll see you there!