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For the love of session beers

Lew Bryson, last mentioned here in the discussion of X beers (go directly to his comment, has joined the blogging ranks with a specific project in mind. He calls it The Session Beer Project.

I suggest that you go ahead and add Seen Through a Glass to your feed reader, bookmark it or do whatever you do with sites you want to keep track of.

He explains the project there and in The Buzz at his website, so read those instead of a lame recap from me.

The why behind why session beers get slighted by the media – and in this case I’m casting a big net, including everything online as well in print – probably interests those of us in the press more than it does you. For one reason, I field a lot of phone calls for print publications looking for a “story angle.”

They want to know about about stuff that grabs your attention right off – a little like the first whiff of an intense imperial stout – because of unusual ingredients, high levels of alcohol or ridiculous amounts of hops. Nobody ever wants to follow up on how Utah brewers make so many award-winning beers although they are limited to brewing those with 4% alcohol by volume.

And they want to write about the beer – not the people who make it or how they make it, not people who enjoy it or how and where they enjoy it, not the session. That’s a harder story and not as sexy a story.

In working on another project, I’ve been reviewing way too much 1980s literature about American beer. In one story a German brewer says he’d never export his beer to the United States because Americans can’t appreciate its flavors. He might still feel the same way, but the fact is ex****e beers helped change what was a pathetic image (both of brewers and consumers).

Does that mean Americans can’t brew session beers? Take a trip to Utah, drink a Firestone Walker beer, or just tune into Seen Through a Glass and see what Lew is drinking.

Does that mean Americans don’t appreciate them? Check out the growth of Boulevard Brewing, Blue Point Brewing or what the best selling beers are for many of the fastest growing breweries (you’ll see they are session beers).

Welcome Lew to the blogging world by joining his conversation about them.

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5 Responses to For the love of session beers

  1. Loren February 2, 2007 at 12:18 pm #

    “Does that mean Americans don’t appreciate them? Check out the growth of Boulevard Brewing, Blue Point Brewing or what the best selling beers are for many of the fastest growing breweries (you’ll see they are session beers).”

    Excellent point, especially regarding Boulevard and their recent need for a HUGE expansion to meet and exceed demand. Session craft beers will indeed rise in popularity with “geeks”, once the learning curve is reached with the recent explosion of new members to the “geek club”. It takes time and experience to learn that not every beer you enjoy need knock you over the head with hops, alcohol, etc..

    And of course session beers are popular outside the geek world already…just look at Bud, Miller and Coors!

    🙂

    Cheers!

  2. Stan Hieronymus February 2, 2007 at 2:05 pm #

    As this discussion went back and forth between Lew’s blog and mine he mentioned the article Don Russell did about how widespread craft beers are getting in Philadelphia (beyond the “beer bars”).

    That’s long been true in Kansas City, where there are few “beer bars” and Boulevard has to build its base in the places where non-geeks drink. (They also did a great job of this in St. Louis).

    You go into a Jack Stack Barbecue restaurant (one of the more famous in KC) and they might have 3 or 4 Boulevard beers on tap. The dry stout is 4.9% abv.

  3. Stonch February 2, 2007 at 3:28 pm #

    I just don’t think that a 5.5% abv beer can possibly be a session beer! Am I howling at the moon here? Drink a few pints of something that strong and you’ll be in a fightin’ mood.

  4. Stan Hieronymus February 2, 2007 at 4:57 pm #

    LStonch,

    This is really something to take up with Lew.

    I was already getting longwinded or I would have brought Fred Eckhardt’s views into the conversation.

    Fred would certainly agree with you. When Full Sail came out with its “Session Lager” at 5.1% abv he was pretty outspoken that you can’t call a beer that strong a “session beer.”

  5. Mikey February 28, 2007 at 12:28 am #

    Thanks for the words. It’s tough defending 4.0% Utah suds to an ever increasing high gravity market.

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