BEER YE! BEER YE!
Twas Wednesday August 5th when oldies and newbies collided into a Beluga’s mouth only to realize that we had no idea what Session meant prior to choosing our beers. We did, however, manage to have an amazing evening with mouths full of glory. When presenting the theme “Session” to everyone prior, I told them that they should just bring their favourite beer to session. Then I went to work on educating myself what in the h-e-double hockey sticks “Session” really meant. As you can see from the image below, I probably should have waited until post-research to announce to everyone.
What follows is my summary of research conducted on the internets along with many brain things in my head. I’d love to give accurate shout outs to the digital mouths I mention below but you can just Infoseek them at your leisure.
- a beer that has a relatively low alcohol content and is therefore suitable for drinking over an extended period.
- any beer that contains no higher than 4.5 percent ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters (ingredients) and, typically, a clean finish a combination of which creates a beer with high drinkability. The purpose of a session beer is to allow a beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication. (Yes, you can drink and enjoy beer without getting drunk.)
- what makes a good session beer is a combination of restraint, satisfaction and “moreishness”, the latter you recognize when you taste it.
- the actual style of a session beer does not matter much: it shouldn’t be too packed with flavour, too hoppy, too dry, too sharp or too sweet, because that will place the beer too much in the foreground.
- clarification: a weaker beer isn’t automatically a session beer. Eff you, Bud Light
The Drinking Session
Beer Advocate suggested that a “session” referred to one of the two allowable drinking periods in England that were imposed on shell production workers during World War I. Typically the licensed sessions were 11am3pm and 7pm11pm, and apparently continued up until the Liquor Licensing Act 1988 was introduced. Workers would find a beer that they could adequately quaff within these restrictive 4hour “sessions” that were laid down by the government without getting legless and return to work or not get arrested for being drunk and disorderly.
Sessionable beers of the time might have been a caskconditioned offering, Mild or Bitter, at 3 to 4 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), but no higher. Poured into a UK pint glass (20ozs vs. the US 16oz pint), patrons might have had upwards of 8 pints during a session and still remain coherent, ergo the “session beer.” Sounds like a lot of beer, but it actually works out to be about 1 beer per hour if you take into consideration the rising ABV of today’s beers.
British pub culture is diff’t than USA pub culture in that the pub is a part of life in the UK morning, on your way home from work, late night, all day every day. Lower ABV with great taste is almost necessary therefore.
On The Rise
- Most breweries now offer, or are going to shortly be offering, a “Session” beer of somesorts
- http://www.notchbrewing.com/ = A brewery that brews ONLY Session Beers
- May is officially “Mild Month” in the UK and, now, USA.
Haters Gonna Hate / Lovers Gonna Love
Lots of arguing in the industry some vets hate, some vets love; some think it’s just marketing gimmick, some think it’s about time Session Beers got their due.
- Lover: Lew Bryson, one of America’s leading beer bloggers, is a huge advocate: http://sessionbeerproject.blogspot.ca/
- Hater: Aaron Goldfarb (Esquire contributor, pontificator) “If we’re being honest, “sessioning” is just bingedrinking, and not the awesome kind that causes you to fall asleep somewhere (and with someone) you probably shouldn’t. Sure, this kind of drinking may be less akin to frat house funneling, but it’s actually similar to something far worse: the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. You find it fun to see how many pints of caloric foam can be crammed inside of you before your gut has inflated so much that you’ve gone from an innie to an outie?!
- Passive-Aggressive against: Jason and Todd Alstrom, Beer Advocate brothers
ONTO THE BEERS!
Vieux-Montréal: Bière Blonde – Gen L.
- They Say: This unique and refreshing blond is a straight forward lighter bodied ale. Balanced with a well rounded softness and a crisp yet cleansing hop finish. Goes down incredibly smooth. It truly is the perfect blond Ale.
- We Say: Meh. Coors Lighty. Cheap though, which is nice. Kind of like yellow water.
“I wanna lie down on a beach and lather my body in it” – Corey P.
“Great buck banger” – Anonymous
BRST° Rating: 2.5/5
À l’abri de la Tempête: Écume – Phil T.
- They Say: Pilsner dorée au profil rustique et aux accents salins qui témoignent de ses origines maritimes. Issue d’une fermentation basse température, elle est la bière fondatrice de la brasserie, solide et conviviale. Note de grain, sel et houblon noble.
- We Say: It smells like when the lights go on, it has more “Lessishness” than “Moreishness”, it smells like a rotting dock and overall it’s quite Meh with a capital “M”
BRST° Rating: 2/5
NOTE: It was at this point that Corey let everyone know “I know the answer, I have a lab coat on”. Nobody knows what the hell he was talking about.
Red Stripe: Jamaican Lager – Mathieu (newguy)
- They Say: Red Stripe Jamaican Lager is a golden, crisp premium imported lager. There is simply nothing else like it’s refreshing flavour and refreshing attitude. Perfect with barbecued meats, spicy curries and zingy spice based dishes. Try it for yourself!
- We Say: Good beer for beach/camping/BBQ time, but too expensive to really consider it for any of those things. Also, anyone over the age of birth knows what this tastes like so no need to provide details here.
BRST° Rating: 3/5
Les Bières Beluga: Golden Ale – Boris
- They Say: A Golden Ale on lees beer using American hops (Citra) that exhibits tropical fruit notes and an Australian hops (Galaxy) that presents a touch of citrus.
- We Say: Nice erotic smell (thanks Phil T.!) that is actually reflected in taste. This beer was the big. big hit of the night. It’s a perfect session beer, even with a slightly elevated 5%. Nice citrus on the nose and a smoooooth finish.
… also, these dudes are doing some serious good with this beer!
BRST° Rating: 4/5
Le Castor: Session Houblon – Corey P.
- They Say: The India Pale Ale is without a doubt the most popular craft beer style in the world. But sometimes we want all those hops, without so much alcohol. Sometimes the night is young, the conversation is great, and we want to have more than just one. The India Session Ale was born out of this unsatisfied thirst. This is our interpretation of the fledgling style – an unbridled level of hop-thusiasm, in a package that lets you get on with your day, or night.
- We Say: Yes to all of the above… and it’s actually a Session!
BRST° Rating: 4/5
Le Castor: Citra Weisse – Dave M.
- They Say:The German ale yeast in this beer produces aromas of banana, clove and bubble gum. Added to this are low residual sugars and a dry-hopping regime that produce a very sessionable summer ale. Goes perfectly with very hot days, friends and your favorite terrace.
- We Say: Even more grapefruit than they mention and it’s glorious.
BRST° Rating: 3/5
Goudale: La Perversion des Anges – Lauren (newgirl)
- They Say: La Perversion des anges est une blanche de blé allemande (Hefeweizen) traditionelle. Très rafraîchissante, elle saura vous satisfaire avec ses effluves de banane et de girofle.
- We Say: Standard issue Heffe but with a killer label that would make us buy it over another.
“Smells like a boner” – Gen L.
BRST° Rating: 3.5/5
Le Dieu du Ciel: Disco Soleil (formerly known as Fortunella) – Daniel W.
- They Say: Disco Sunshine is a sun-inspired Kumquat India Pale Ale. Fresh kumquat delivers citrus notes and pleasing acidity while the lingering bitterness from the hops makes you thirst for more. These bright rays of sunshine will now be available year-long, bottled-up, ready for you to enjoy whenever you please.
- We Say: Some of us though this was extremely sessionable, even with the high ABV. Others thought that kumquat was a new stripper dance move.
“Fuck Daniel with his spread shit” – Anonoymous
BRST° Rating: 3.5/5
Brouwerij Het Anker: Gouden Carolus Tripel – John M.
- They Say: Full graceful tenderness, with a clean and neat taste, this beer will enchant you: matured in the bottle, exclusively obtained from pale malt, highly fermented and 100% natural. With a full-bodied flavor that still works thirst quenching, thanks to a balanced hopping. This pleasant golden blond beer is preferred by all who loves heavier, somewhat seasoned and refreshing beer.
- We Say: Graceful is a perfect adjective to use here. This is John M.’s favourite beer in the world and we all now see why. It’s a heavy hitter at 9% ABV, and tough for some (err, most/all) to session but oh man! it’s glorious!
“The Ace of Base of beers” – Corey P.
“Buttery” – Anonymous (but probably Phil T.)
BRST° Rating: 3.5/5
ARE YOU BLIND?
Beerstitutioneer | Beer | Success
- Phil T. | Castor ISA | Success 1st try
- Corey P. | Écume | Success 2nd try
- Genvieve L. | Beluga | Success 2nd try
- Lauren | Disco Soleil | Success 1st try
- Dave M. | Écume | Success 1st try
- Boris | Beluga | Success 2nd try
- John M. | BVM Blonde | Success 1st try
- Daniel W. | Red Stripe | Success 1st try
- Mathieu | Citra Weisse | Fail
Beerstitutioneer | Favourite | Sessionable | Surprise
- Phil T. | Disco Soleil | BVM | BVM
- Corey P. | Beluga | Beluga | Gouden Carolus
- Genvieve L. | Beluga | BVM | Gouden Carolus
- Lauren | Citra Weisse | Perversion | Écume
- Dave M. | Citra Weisse | ISA | Beluga
- Boris | Beluga | Beluga | Perversion
- John M. | Gouden Carolus | Disco Soleil | Beluga
- Daniel W. | ISA | ISA | Beluga
- Mathieu | Gouden Carolus | Beluga | Écume
Favourite – Les Bières Beluga: Golden Ale
Most Sessionable – Les Bières Beluga: Golden Ale
Surprise – Les Bières Beluga: Golden Ale
As you can see, Les Bières Beluga stole the show at Beerstitution Volume 11. And for good reason – their Golden Ale is OUTSTANDING. Being outside, eating sausages and chicken wings and loving life with all of my fellow Beerstitutioneers AND a Beluga?! Priceless. Man I love this job. See you next month for a Byear In Review
That Guy From Beerstitution