Thursday, June 10, 2010

Good press: Session Beer getting more respect

Today's Google Alerts bring me news that interest in session beer is growing. A Web article on session beer at The Website Formerly Known as Chowhound showed up; I was interviewed for this one. Jordan Mackay (who is apparently one of the three Californians who don't like hops hops and MORE FREAKIN' HOPS RIGHT NOW) writes:
The problem is, drinking lots of beer isn’t as easy as it once was. In recent years, beer has gotten both stronger (higher in alcohol) and more flavorful. You can only drink one or two intense, hoppy beers such as IPAs before suffering from both tipsiness and palate fatigue. They also don’t really pair well with food. One antidote to this problem is K├Âlsch, which I wrote about recently. Another is session beer. In fact, the support for session beer is so enthusiastic that it’s at the point of transcending being just a brew and turning into a movement.
Oh, dear. A movement? That's going to piss off the big beer huggers even more. I did hear an interesting argument from Uncle Jack Curtin yesterday. "Session beer" is unnecessary, he said, explaining (I think...) that there's always some lower alcohol beer on tap. Keep in mind, Jack lives in southeastern PA, where thanks to Yards (Brawler) and Philadelphia Brewing (Kenzinger, Walt Wit) there is almost always something under 4.5% available on tap. And there's always Guinness. So Jack sez, you're crying about nothing, it's already there. And he doesn't like the term "session beer," either.

My response to his second point? Honestly, I'm not really nuts about it myself. But I don't care for the terms "gastropub" or "beer geek," either, and I'll be happy to switch to a new term if one that's better comes along...still waiting for that. His main point? I say, what's 'already there' isn't enough, even here in Philly (where we do pretty well, to be honest). I want a kaleidoscope of choices. I'm not talking about forcing it down people's throats, that's not how it works. I'm just talking about getting more people aware of it, and fostering some respect for it.

Which appears to be working, because in this piece about this weekend's World Beer Festival in Richmond, All About Beer editor Julie Johnson picks "Session beers" as one of five trends going on in beer right now (the others were more predictable: extreme/imperial, inventing a new style, soured beer, and barrel/bourbon-aging). Here's what she said:
"We've been infatuated with really strong beers, hoppy beers, beers aged in whiskey barrels, but a certain group of beer fans will say, 'What do I drink if I want more than one?' The term is a 'session beer.' That's the backbone of pub life: a good beer that you sit down with and that doesn't dominate the conversation. Craft brewers are trying something that was not in their nature: which is to dial it back, but to keep all the flavor and character that is part of the craft brew revolution.
"[Full Sail Session [Black] Lager is more full-flavored. It's a black lager that is lovely, full-flavored but not so heavy that you can't have a couple through the evening and enjoy the conversation."
Yes indeed. It's sweet to see this catching on. Makes me want to spend the afternoon on the deck drinking beer.

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog. I plan to read the posts. I am a homebrewer, and generally speaking, I am a hophead. I think of session beer, as a beer that you can drink in copius quantities in a session. I love the hops of IPA but the abv kicks my butt. I crafted an "Xtra Pale Ale" that seems to fit the bill for me personally. This beer is an APA (read.. session strength) but has the hop flavor and kick of an IPA.

    Interesting blog.


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