Esquire: Why the "Session" Beer Trend Makes Zero Sense

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by DaveAnderson, Nov 12, 2014.

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  1. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (919) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    It seems to me that what the BMC drinker dislikes the most about craft is the hops.
     
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  2. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Of course there is a different flavor. No doubt. But I don't understand the concept of "more flavor" in general. Something may have more intense, pronounced, pointed flavor, but how can something have simply more flavor? And why does more flavor automatically correlate with better flavor?

    A session IPA has a different taste than a regular IPA, as the malt character, in my opinion, is just not there. Personally, I don't think IPA's are a good style to turn into a session beer, as there just isn't the malt to hold up against the hops. Nevertheless, a 4% Helles and a 11% stout, in my world, both have lots of flavor. One has more intense flavor, but not simply "more flavor." And the stronger beer, in this case and in my view, is absolutely not tastier than the lower abv one. Does that make sense? I fear I am not explaining myself well here.
     
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  3. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    You don't choose a beer so that you can drink multiples of it. That's fine. But making the connection that people who choose a beer because they can drink multiples of it doesn't mean they aren't still choosing the beer for taste. It's not just about the tossing self-control into the wind (a bit), though that is certainly an element of the choice. It's also about what you don't want to drink. A huge stout is tasty, in the same way that cured and smoked pork belly is tasty. I enjoy it, but after a little of it, there's only so much my taste buds can handle. The element of wanting more of a beer doesn't, in my view, cheapen the importance of its taste.
     
  4. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    I agree wholeheartedly. All I am saying is that there is a difference between seeking out the best tasting thing regardless of ABV and targeting an ABV and trying to make the best tasting thing inside that threshold. As in any experiment when you add new requirements you achieve new restrictions. I think that many of the best sessionable beers were not made in this way but just happen to taste best in their lower ABV form, but we are seeing some horrid examples of session beers come out now because producers are desiring that session label and making ABV level the initial goal and other things like flavor secondary.
     
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  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,150) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    One more time: Cheers to @Nick_Bousquet for his thoughtful and well written posts!!
     
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  6. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    I completely agree that brewers are trying to cash in on the "session beer thing" and that there's a lot of crappy examples (ie the session IPAs I mentioned above to @JackHorzempa ). Nevertheless, that Weinstephaner Pils was great long before this craze took off. I like the taste of that beer plain and simple. THe fact that I can have multiple is a bonus.
     
  7. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,100) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    You could also make the (abstract) case that beers with more flavor are constraining because you can't have as many of them as you can a more subtlely flavored beer. :wink:
     
  8. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    Absolutely, and I've tried to express that there are many low ABV offerings I also love the taste of. I have just been trying to explore the realities of the definition and the variance in outcome once new variables are added. I truly do believe that many beers take their best possible form in a lower ABV, but I really think that semantics and the term session are getting in the way here and causing much of this dissent.
     
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  9. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    Very true and I've not tried to argue for more flavor, only better flavor which is of course a subjective offering and so I attempt to measure via intent.
     
  10. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    Thanks again for your compliments. I've wanted to "like" your posts as a show of thanks and to return the favor, however liking something that praises me seems weirdly self-serving and ego driven so I could not bring myself to do it. Anyhow, cheers comrade and thanks again for your kind words!
     
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,150) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I think that beers with higher ABV can have as many flavors as a lower ABV beer. As an example, below is something I posted in a past thread for Freigeist Bierkultur Hoppeditz which has an ABV of 7.5%.

    Beer No. 3: Freigeist Bierkultur Hoppeditz

    This beer is a Sticke Alt that was brewed in Koln (Cologne). This is only the second time that I have had an Alt that was brewed in Koln. I asked the bartender about this and he educated me that Freigeist means Free Spirit in German. This beer was OUTSTANDING! In the parlance of Tony (@@boddhitree) this beer was WOW-WOW-WOW. There was so much complexity in this beer. There were some subtle smoke flavors but tons of dark malt flavors going on simultaneously: toasty, woody, licorice, toffee … plus some spice & a tiny bit of fruitiness. There is so much going on here (in a good way) that I can’t really do justice to this beer in describing it. This beer has more layers than Shrek! This beer is worthy of a review by Tony. I am sure that Tony would appreciate the complexity of this beer.

    Cheers!
     
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  12. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Meyvn (1,319) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts

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  13. ChrisLohring

    ChrisLohring Initiate (100) Jan 25, 2010 Massachusetts
    Industry

    10 pages in, and Czech beer has been mentioned 2 or 3 times. Nothing going on there in terms of low gravity flavorful beer.
     
  14. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (821) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    Yo - don't be talking shit about Maine Beer Co
     
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  15. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,100) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    We're too busy trying to quantify overall beer quality based on the completely unmeasurable variable of "best flavor" to worry about actual delicious session beers
     
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  16. GeorgiaBeerGuy

    GeorgiaBeerGuy Initiate (0) May 31, 2013 Georgia

    Um... yeah. Maine Beer Co isn't really craft, is it? :wink:
     
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  17. Tut

    Tut Initiate (0) Sep 23, 2004 New York

    So what do you mean by "full strength"? That's a very relative term. Is an excellent British cask bitter at 4.3% less than full strength? Are you implying full strength = high abv, and anything less than that doesn't taste as good?
     
  18. Jirin

    Jirin Aspirant (220) Apr 28, 2013 Massachusetts

    Lower ABV does not imply weaker flavor.

    The word 'Session' does, though.
     
  19. dlux

    dlux Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2014 Arizona

    Agreed, flavor is all that matters to me with beer. The alcohol is a side effect that can be enjoyable. Quality over quantity.
     
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  20. Sponan

    Sponan Initiate (192) Jan 20, 2008 Tennessee

    And the label Russian Imperial Stout is derived from a style of beer sent to and enjoyed by Russians. Does that mean brewers are constrained because they are attempting to brew a beer best enjoyed in Russia? Just because a term sticks because of typical use in a historical context does not make it a requirement.

    Most beers end up within the category due simply to being balanced and complex without overwhelming the palate, as well as being lower in alcohol. This allows the easy consumption of multiple beers, if one so chooses. This in no way implies the beer is less enjoyable if only one is consumed. Most session beers and the culture are European by tradition. Just because a few American brewers are trying to force the so called session IPA into the category does not mean these few brewers represent the primary focus of most.
     
    #380 Sponan, Nov 16, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
  21. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (2,070) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    I'm not so sure, 'bout that. Some folks here -enjoy- being trolled. Hey, it beats being "bored while at work", right? :wink:
     
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  22. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    I would say that is a red herring as one is a label and nothing more whe the other has a strict requirement attached. Nothing about a RIS says it must be brewed in Russia or by a Russian, whereas a session beer does have a firm ABV requirement attached. I've told you several times now that I take no issue with many of the accepted definitions and I believe that lower ABV beers can have great taste. I am strictly speaking of intent and I have also added that many of the best session beers are unaffected by this as they likely fall into the category by happenstance. On the other side of that coin there are brewers actively targeting the session market to make a quick buck. This does not mean they won't succeed in making decent beer, only thy they are limited right out the gate due to am end requirement that is not there for most styles. I rely don't know how else to explain this, we are on the same page for many of the points here.
     
  23. Mark

    Mark Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2001 California

    If you've never been that is exactly the beauty of drinking in England. Nothing better to me than cask ale in a British pub. 3.5-4.5% ABV and chock full of flavor. Our brewers have not figured it out for the most part. I have had a few tasty low ABV beers made by U.S. brewers but for the most part we miss the boat in this area.
     
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  24. Sponan

    Sponan Initiate (192) Jan 20, 2008 Tennessee

    As I stated, just because a few American brewers try to shoehorn a beer into the category does not mean that is the norm.

    If you look up the definition of any category or style, there are parameters. If a brewer sets out to brew an ale, that is an end requirement. If they want to brew an IPA, there are style guidelines. And yes, a Russian Imperial Stout has requirements.
     
    #384 Sponan, Nov 16, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
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  25. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    And as I stated earlier I think that titles for beers are merely pattern recognition techniques used for easy identification which is okay. But there is a flexibility within most styles now that allow for experimentation and if my beer were to jump from one category to another because I made it taste better I would say "so what." And make it taste as good as I can.

    It all depends on te definition you what to go by here and if you think it only has to do with ABV then so be it, but many disagree as does the definition on this site. Perhaps we need a new category created or find a co consensus on the term, I am more interested in tracking the intent and the results of that.
     
  26. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,100) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    The "Tastes Better" IPA? Brewers could clearly -- and without any potential confusion -- differentiate their products from an All Day IPA and Tastes OK IPA....
     
  27. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    Well some have said the term IPA Lite would be applicable, but I'm sure there are other options available too. We may just have to wait until one side of the semantic argument wins out and becomes the norm. The zeitgeist will march on....
     
  28. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,100) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    I would hate to place any constraints on brewers' marketing terminology. They might not come up with the best possible sales pitch.... :wink:
     
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  29. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    Well that is the power of the consumer in this instance since the sales pitch deals directly with trying to convince you that their product is worthwhile. I suppose intent is again in play here as breweries have different approaches to selling product. Some want the best taste, others want clever marketing to carry them, and others still will just make whatever sells at a cheap rate.
     
  30. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,100) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    And some want Great Taste and Less Filling. That beer certainly convinced consumers!
     
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  31. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (2,070) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    Brother Jack is indeed one of the most well-recognized users of this site! :slight_smile:
    There is presently -at least one- American-style I.P.A. in the U.S. market which is marketed as a "Light" I.P.A.:
    http://www.wachusettbrew.com/light_ipa.html
     
  32. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,100) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    He is our resident Cheers!-leader.
     
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  33. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (2,070) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    Not just that. He is BA's only Superhero -- CAPMan~! :slight_smile:
     
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  34. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    Agreed! It will be interesting to see what definition wins out in the "session" category. It won't be forced on anyone but just a gradual use increase on one side of the spectrum or other. What is really intriguing is that I feel this site will have a huge degree of influence on how this plays out, so if people truly dislike the definition contained here it may be worth creating a poll and post requesting a change.
     
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  35. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (2,070) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    Seeing as how USDA and TTB cannot -or at least at the present time is not legally required to- do very much insofar as requiring such labeling and naming conventions on any domestic Craft or Large Scale brewery, it might be something which is adhered to in a voluntary fashion which will be derived from continuing consumer preference, especially vis-a-vis Brewers Association (the closest thing that the U.S.A. has to CAMRA, and arguably a much more powerful body.)
     
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  36. Nick_Bousquet

    Nick_Bousquet Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Virginia

    Very well put, and a great reminder that I need to learn more about the Brewers Association! Thanks for that.
     
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  37. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (2,070) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    Sprecher Brewing (of Sprecher Root Beer fame) introduced a brand called "Micro-Light" about ten years ago and it is still being made. I don't see it outside of Wisconsin, but it is a nice, full-flavored and low-calorie (119 calories) ale that I found to be a very nice option to light adjunct lagers. I've had low-calorie and full-flavored ales from other American "Craft" brewers aside from this one, so I know that they have the ability to brew to this gravity and still offer full-flavored and presumably highly-hopped beers.

    I do agree that the words "Light" and "Diet" tend to be qualifiers which many Craft Beer hobbyists (as well as red-blooded American males in general... ) will do their best to avoid, owing to being self-conscious up to a point. I mean, "Lite" from Miller has a proven record as a 'manly' beer (football commercial going back into the days or Arena Rock) , but a Craft beer marketed as "light" would strike many Appletini-swilling Cougars as a turn off. Am I right? :grinning:
     
    #397 Chaz, Nov 17, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
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  38. tasterschoice62

    tasterschoice62 Poo-Bah (1,510) May 14, 2014 Rhode Island
    Society Trader

    First author says anything that is considered "session able" is 4% abv or less yet the page has BL listed in the photo as 4.2%. Seems insignificant but the author seems intent on accuracy.
    Second why must we label these beers? Go back before the craft beer movement. Were those adjunct lagers called session beers? The term does not identify a style: ie you can have IPA that I "session able"
    And while I'm at it what's he def of a session? If its a period of time what is it? I can have a drinking session and have 2 beers in an hour six? I can sit down and play the drums for a half hour and have 2 beers. Did I have a music session or a drinking session. IMO this is just way of creating a new market segment . shandys , sessions etc. Its just beer.
     
  39. Sponan

    Sponan Initiate (192) Jan 20, 2008 Tennessee

    Isn't session beer a title? It might not be a defined style, but is is still just a title allowing experimentation. If the beer tastes better outside of the parameters, then the option is there to simply up the ABV and not call it "session". How would this be any different than a brewer setting out to brew an IPA and deciding it would taste better if they increased the malt bill and made an imperial IPA instead?

    By your argument, there would be one beer that tastes better than every other beer and all brewers would be moving ever closer to this target.
     
  40. Sponan

    Sponan Initiate (192) Jan 20, 2008 Tennessee

    Whether ABV, style, fermentation time, etc, don't you think most brewers have a target in mind before they start developing a new beer?
     
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