Wednesday, 11 November 2009

I do like session beer

In my previous post, and probably some prior to that, I seem to have given the reader the impression that I dislike session beer. This is simply not the case. When I look at my own drinking habits it is clear that the vast majority of my consumption of alcohol, either in pure volume or even if measured in units, turns out to be in the form of pints of session ale. I doubt if this will change.

My apparent attacks are not on drinkers who have a broad minded approach to beer and enjoy session beer as well as occasional other beers. My comments are more aimed at the stuffy attitude of those who create glass ceilings in the beer creativeness stakes. "I can't possibly drink that beer, I don't drink anything over 4%" is striking when they are talking about a 4.2% beer. Just how much effect do they think that 0.2% of ABV is going to make to their drunkenness?

Moreover, what gets me is the fact that otherwise sensible and controlled adults can't work out that they could actually explore beers up to 5% and perhaps higher. After all, drinking 5 pints of 4% is exactly the same as drinking 4 pints of 5% beer. Are these people not able to pace themselves? I would be surprised if many readers of this blog are quite so narrow minded.

I dream of the day that a little bit of glamour is introduced into main stream beer drinking. Currently, exploring beers that don't fit the regular session ale category is seen as something of an obscure pastime and drinking out of anything other than a nonic pint is unmanly. Interestingly, the same people will suddenly, at the end of the night, declare they are full and please could they have some boiled and re-condensed beer. Not that I complain, a shot of scotch puts more money in my till than a pint of beer.

I want to try and work in a piece of news that I think is worthy. My barman Alan drinks at a pub called The Brown Cow. Landlord Phil is a grand chap and well into his ales. Recently he had a beer festival at the pub which appeared to go very well. Alan reported back the various goings on when he came to work. He didn't say much about the beer except for one he was itching to tell me about; Bez Suchého Chmele - Jeden, 4.8%, Brewed by Steel City Brewing. Alan had never heard of them and was very keen to let me know what he thought of the beer. Very nice he declared and certainly the best he had that weekend. For many drinkers 4.8% is not a session beer, I think that is a shame as it sounds like it might just be a cracker.

Meanwhile I am planning the highest ABV beer I've ever done. Over 10% I hope. It should be similar to a barley wine1, but probably not with traditional British hops. It'll be brewed in the next few days but I expect it will take at least 6 months before it will be ready to drink. I'm hoping there will be a market for the finished product but it concerns me that the pint drinking mentality will stand in it's way.

I'll probably drink 1/3 of a pint of it once in a while, out of a nice stemmed glass if I'm allowed. After about 3 pints of something around 4±1%.

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1No, a beer that strong is not automatically a barley wine.

15 comments:

Cooking Lager said...

You are a beer enthusiast Dave, and as such it's all about the beer.

Normal people are not beer enthusiasts. They are enthusiastic about things that matter.

Beer is nothing more or less than the socialy acceptable social lubricant of our culture. In other cultures men drink wine, in ours it's a pint of beer.

When you are not there for the beer, a pint of anything at 4% affords the desired social lubrication, at a rate you are confortable with, with the social acceptability of pint for the fella.

There is nothing wrong with this. It is not unimaginative to not really give a toss about beer and only want to hang around with your pals over a few pints and game of darts after the days toil.

The mainstream is the mainstream and there is nothing wrong with it. All the products derided as bland and uninteresting are quality products of good ingredients and enjoyed by millions.

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

Let us know when it's ready, Dave. and I'll be over to try it out. A whole pint, mind.

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

Bez Suchého Chmele - Jeden is Prescotti's beer. Lets hope he comes up with a Proper Real Keg version for export.

Paul Garrard said...

I like session ale. Give me a pint of Wherry, Adnams Bitter or even GK IPA in tip-top freshness over a tired but obscure 'micro offering' any day.

Mark said...

As you know, I like my beers hard and fast, but there is still something which stops me and makes me think when I'm at the bar and see a 5%+ beer. I guess it depends on the type of drinking I'll be doing - sometimes I know that I'll be drinking stronger beers, other times, if I want 4-5 pints then I will aim a little lower. It's a strange but ingrained mentality!

Ultimately, if it says IPA and has a % somewhere between 5.9-8 then no matter what I'll be ordering it!

Strange.

Anonymous said...

Bez Suchého Chmele - Jeden. if its the same brew as hop manifesto 4.8% (must be since they have only brewed once) then you could do a lot better for a session beer than that one. they need to learn some control with hops, i love OTT hopped beers, 90min etc but steel city's attempt had no balance between the hops it wasn't plesent at all. i get what they are doing and for a first brew it wasn't bad (i've had worse from first time brewers).
Herbert.

Jeffrey said...

Dave, one my regulars visited your pub on your say so. I don't know if he introduced himself, although knowing him he probably did. James Whitbread's his name (yes, that Whitbread). Said he liked it and your own beer is great.

Woolpack Dave said...

Cookie, there are many other drinks used a social lubricants that are much stronger.

Brian, you may not be able to afford a pint....

Wurst, Indeed it is Gazza's beer. Real Keg? I wouldn't hold your breath..

Paul, I was OK until you mentioned GK...

Mark, if it's got an ABV between 2 and 18% I'll order it if I think it might be good.

Herbet, you might be right that for most people Steal City might be overdoing the hops. However, I suspect that means I'd like it. At least once.

Jeffrey, he did introduce himself, unfortunately I wasn't here. Alan, my barman, passed on the message that he'd been here and that he knew you with surprising accuracy.

Jeffrey said...

You should test this Alan chap's memory skills with a few tests, and if he turns out to have a real talent send him on the Generation Game. I'm sure Whitbread would go on it with him.

Jeffrey said...

PS. Charlotte is keen for us to visit you up in Sellafield County so doubtless I'll be experiencing your beery and culinary delights myself before long. I'll make sure to ask all the standard annoying questions:

Do you do sandwiches?
Is that your only menu?
Don't you do a burger?

Cooking Lager said...

Ask for a pint of lager Jeff, and then ask for some ketchup for your chips.

Paul Garrard said...

"I was OK until you mentioned GK" - sorry can't help it. My roots you know.

StringersBeer said...

Barley wine? How long are you having to boil it for? How much power does that use? Do you get your own dead polar bear?

Looking forward to trying it.

Benj said...

I do not believe that drinking 5 pints of 4% beer is the same as drinking 4 pints of 5% beer. The reason is that in the latter case you are short the equivalent of a pint of water. Unless you supplemented with an extra pint of water, you will feel the difference the next day, because a big part of a hangover is caused by dehydration.

Woolpack Dave said...

Stringers, much longer than is good for the environment I suspect. A worthy post in it's own right. About 16 hours is the answer....

Benj, good point, although I think while you are drinking the diuretic effect of alcohol creates an equilibrium with your electrolytes. Drink weaker beer you piss more. The amount of water left in your system is determined by how drunk you are. Drinking a pint of water after you stop drinking alcohol will always make you feel better in the morning.