The Session Beer Project
There’s been a lot said, written, and blogged
about "extreme beers" recently. The history and
hagiography of extreme beers has been explored, with exciting
revelations and controversies. The definition of just what "extreme
beer" is has been hashed over with revealing self-awareness and an
amusing amount of plausible denial. Extreme beer has been explained to
the masses in a number of places, implying that the writers have
inferred that the masses give a damn.
And, of course, reams of words have been written in
review of these beers individually, usually hot, gushing words of
drooling praise. "The first smell is a citrus-and-floral hop slam
that says "indeed, you are afraid of this beer,
weakling."" "Thicker than any other beer that I have
sampled in my life." "Complex as all hell with a huge
I’m not copying those here to make fun of them.
I'm just using them as examples. But when guys like me, beer writers,
the guys with a bigger public forum than your average blogger or website
critic, spend all our time talking about the latest huge monster beer,
it has impact.
Maybe too much. "My view is that skewed
attention is bad for beer diversity and simply irresponsible journalism.
There is plenty that is noteworthy about a Munich dunkel to a
beer-curious reader. Does the beer media need to take their stylistic
cues from National Enquirer? Only if they are not thinking. Big picture,
guys!" That’s Bill Covaleski, of Victory Brewing, as quoted by me
almost 4 years ago.
Time to get self-aware and plausibly deny things. We
write about extreme beers for a very simple reason: they’re news. They’re
new, they’re different, they’re eye-opening, and they’re far from
We don’t generally write about "session
beers" for much the same reasons. A new brown ale is "just
another brown ale," the 895th batch of a brewery’s pale ale –
even though it’s selling like crazy – is no more newsworthy than the
894th batch was. Like I always say about Budweiser, everyone’s had it,
everyone’s already got an opinion – where’s my angle?
Here's a new angle. I always blamed this
problem on editors. The editor doesn't want to hear it, the editor
doesn't have room to print it, the editor is a bonehead. But I'm the
editor here. If I want to talk about session beers, I can. If I want
to talk about them a lot, and praise the ones that have been out on the
market for years -- and are therefore not 'newsworthy -- I can do
And I am. I've finally given in to the Internet
and created a blog: I call it Seen
Through a Glass. I'm
going to use it to put up quick thoughts, reports, and pictures. I'm
going to use it when I'm on the road, because with Blogger, I can access
my blog anywhere in the world and update it. But most of all, at least
for a while, I'm going to use it for The Session Beer Project.
Session beers get no press? Well, here's one
place where they will. I haven't been doing tasting notes here on
the site, partially because it's a pain in the butt. Write it, format
it, save it, upload it, archive it, upload it again...every time I open
a beer, every time I crack a bottle of bourbon? No, sorry, too much like
But this Blogger stuff... That's easy. Open the
site, type in a title and a paragraph on the beer, hit
"Publish," and it's there, baby. I've got four posts up
already, and I just started the thing around lunchtime. That'll drop
off, of course, but for now, I feel re-invigorated. I'm going to do
something about this lack of love for session beers.
What I'm going to do is write. Reviews of
session beers I've had (I've got one
up now). Mini-rants about session beers and extreme beers. Short tales
of good sessions and the good beers that made them possible. Thoughts on
trends in craft brewing: ABV creep, hop insanity, barrels, bugs, and
age. Thoughts on innovation.
And maybe a report on someone's 895th batch of pale
You can help. Write comments on my blogging.
Tell us what your favorite session beers are, and why. Start
your own damned session beer blog. Find good session beers and love
them, and don't take crap from anyone about drinking them.
Chances are there are a lot of folks like you, drinking those beers.
Break out the cards and deal me in; we've got folks who need to know
about the beauty of session beers. Starting today, I'm