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No beer links (here) this week


At the risk of alienating all of those thoroughly frustrated last June when tickets to see Hamilton in Chicago went on sale, we were among the lucky ones who were able to buy them at face value. Worth every penny, but it means I was otherwise occupied this past weekend and there are no links here. Of course, Boak & Bailey posted their typically diverse selections Saturday: News, Nuggets & Longreads 14 January 2017: Spain, Sheffield and Sober Island

And I do hope you saw these tweets during the week.


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Session #120 announced: Brown beer

The SessionHost Joe Tindall has announced that the topic for The Session #120 is brown beer.

The colour brown has certain connotations, some of which I won’t dwell on. But used in reference to beer, it can signify a kind of depressing old fashioned-ness – to refer to a traditional bitter as ‘brown’ seems to suggest it belongs to a bygone corduroy-trousered era. As breweries who pride themselves on their modernity focus on beers that are either decidedly pale or unmistakably black, the unglamorous brown middle ground is consistently neglected.

So for Session 120, let’s buck the trend and contemplate brown beer. This might be brown ale, or the aforementioned English bitter; it could be a malty Belgian brune, a dubbel or a tart oud bruin; even a German dunkel might qualify.

So let’s get the famous George Gobel line out of the way. “Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?” And think brown for Feb. 3.


The Session #119 roundup posted

The SessionHost Alec Latham has posted the roundup for The Session #119: Discomfort Beer.

I was particularly drawn to Jay Brooks’ post (the one we all had to wait for), because it is about a) chile beers and b) how picky and eater he is.

So unlike Alec’s experience with Black IPAs, or many people, including myself, warming to a new type of beer, chili beer seems like a love it or hate it kind of beer, with little ground in the middle. And you won’t be surprised to learn I hate them. How could there be any middle ground? Maybe your tolerance for spiciness increases over time, but that has not been my personal experience. My wife has been trying for over twenty years, as did many girlfriends before that. And while I do, believe it or not, eat many more foods today than I did when I was a child and in the intervening years, many people are still shocked at how picky I am and usually chuckle at what I consider to be too spicy. C’est la vie.

I can testify he is right about b) although I disagree, for the most part about a). If you judge chile beers based on Ed’s Cave Creek Chili, an out of balance gimmick, then he is right. But we lived in New Mexico for 13 years, and one of the reasons we moved there is because we like chiles. A well-made green chile beer is not about bringing the heat; it is about the aroma or roasted chiles that hangs in the air on Albuquerque’s north Fourth Street during chile harvest.

That is as pleasantly powerful as the my first beer memory is unpleasantly powerful.


Monday beer links: Style tunnel vision & Belgian newcomers


Brewmasters Reflect on 2016 and Look Ahead to 2017.
This question pops up about one third of the way into this very long post (drop it in Pocket): What was this year’s biggest surprise in craft beer? And Greg Engert of Bluejacket and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group in Washington, D.C. answers …

I don’t know if I’d call it the biggest surprise, but it has certainly been interesting to watch the craft beer market change as it further enters the mainstream. With more and more drinkers turning to craft, they are mostly turning to two broad flavor profiles, hoppy and crisp. According to the Brewers Association, IPA continues to dominate, accounting for roughly one-quarter of craft beer volume, while sales of refreshing Pilsners, Pale Lagers and Golden Ales are increasing dramatically. We’ve long known that interest in malty British styles, say, or smoky German Rauchbiers had and could likely continue to wane, but I don’t think we expected that stylistic tunnel vision would narrow to exclude the newly vaulted sour ales, along with classic Belgian ales and even roasty Stouts and Porters.

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The Session #119: Feeling comfortable

Truffle beerThis was not a good beer.

The unpleasant memory of it made its way into my conciousness because the topic for the 119th running of The Session is “Discomfort Beer.” Host Alec Lathma has asked us “to write about which/what kind of beers took you out of your comfort zones. Beers you weren’t sure whether you didn’t like, or whether you just needed to adjust to.” Because he specifies that “this can’t include beers that were compromised, defective, flat, off etc because this is about deliberate styles” I probably shouldn’t be mentioning the beer to the left, because it was flawed.

But, for whatever reason (and probably because our brains are not perfect memory machines), I filed “truffle beer memory” (from France in 2008) in the bin next to “stale cigar and beer smell memory.” That’s my first beer aroma/taste memory, from when I was perhaps 10 years old and my father would host an evening of poker in our basement. I certainly was never even tempted to sneak downstairs and taste the beer. It would be days before that smell would go away and it most definitely took me out of my comfort zone.

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