Next Session: Cutting Through The Haze

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For our 126th Session, our host will be Gail Williams‏, who is one-half of the team writing Beer by BART. For her topic, she’s chosen a juicy topic: Hazy, Cloudy, Juicy: IPA’s Strange Twist. “The topic will be a still-emerging – though no longer new – unofficial beer style. This kind of beer has gotten so much buzz (and some mocking) in the last decade and a half that it’s surprising it has not come up on The Session yet. New England, Vermont-inspired, Northeastern, Hazy, Juicy or whatever you like to call these low-bitterness, hop flavorful beers, they are being made everywhere now and people are definitely buying them.”

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Here’s Gail’s full description of her topic:

Any approach is welcome. Choose an idea or find your own:

  • The encounter: Do you remember your first NEIPA – if so, what was that like? Details, please. And how has your perception of the style changed over time?
  • Or the name game: What style name do you prefer to describe the trend … why choose that one, and why are the other names unworthy or short-sighted? Does “IPA” still apply in a way that’s helpful to drinkers?
  • Or the crusade: Testify! Exactly why do you love or hate these beers? How you could explain your stance to somebody who disagrees with you. Could you/ how would you convert them to your point of view?
  • Or setting standards and defining flaws: What makes a classic example of the style? What makes an IPA simply an unfiltered dry-hopped American IPA without much clarity instead of part of this style? What about the sweeter “milkshake” IPAs – part of this style definition or something else? What flaws make for weak examples of the style? Or maybe, where should the numbers be for this style – abv, ibu, color and clarity, etc.? What tasting instructions would you give to judges of these beers?
  • Or take another angle, tell another tale! Have you been writing about these beers for several years now and watched them evolve? Know something cool about the making of these beers, the people behind them, their spread to the UK and Europe?

Choose any angle and make it yours – they’re just ideas to get us thinking, not a questionnaire. And if you have zero interest in such a beer, just say why in the fullest detail. Have fun with it!

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To participate in the August Session, on or before Friday, August 4, 2017 — yes that’s this Friday, in just four days — write a post and either leave a comment to the original announcement, “or to get a little more buzz going, tweet your link with the hashtag #thesession or alert [her] directly @beerbybart on Twitter.”

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Next Session: Getting SMaSHed

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For our 125th Session, our host will be Mark Lindner‏, who writes By the Barrel: Bend Beer Librarian. For his topic, he’s chosen SMaSH Beers, or single malt and single hop beers, which he was reminded of by his local Bend, Oregon, annual SMaSH Fest, part of Central Oregon Beer Week, which happened a few weekends ago. Between that, and brewing his first batch a beer — yes, it will be a SMaSH beer — he “jokingly asked [him]self if single malt and single hop beers can be considered a “thing” (trendy, etc.) until we have coffee-infused, barrel-aged, and fruit SMaSH beers. Maybe we do; [he has] not seen them yet though.”

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But here’s Mark’s full description of his topc:

Here are some potential directions you could consider:

  • Answer my question above. Are they trendy? When would they be considered to be trendy? Have you seen/had a variant (x-infused, fruit, …) single malt and single hop beer? More than one?
  • What purpose do SMaSH beers fill? For you, personally, and/or generally.
  • Do they fill a niche in any beer style space? One that matters to you? Are they a “style,” however you define that?
  • Have you ever had an excellent one? As a SMaSH beer or as a beer, period.
  • Do you brew them?
  • Are there any styles besides pale ale/IPA that can be achieved via a single malt and single hop beer? (How about achieved versus done quite well.)
  • Do they offer anything to drinkers, especially non-brewing drinkers?

I consider this to be wide open and am interested in your thoughts, whatever they are, regarding SMaSH beers. I sincerely hope this is not too limiting of a topic in the number of people who have tasted and/or brewed single malt and single hop beers.

Resources

Some resources–mostly brewing-focused, sorry–about single malt and single hop beers:

BREWING

Keeping it Simple with SMaSH Brewing [AHA]

Single-Malt Brewing [All About Beer]

Brew Your Own 20/4 Jul/Aug 2014 Single Malt and Single Hop 55-64

Zymurgy 40/2 Mar/Apr 2017 Uncommon Taste of Place SMaSH recipe 35

STYLE GUIDELINES

Neither BJCP 2015, NHC 2017, Brewers Association 2017, World Beer Cup 2016, or GABF 2017 have anything on them based on searches for “smash” and “single malt.”

FOR GENERAL BEER DRINKER (NON-BREWER)

I did try to find anything specifically directed more to the drinker/general consumer rather than the brewer but I could not find any. I would be interested in anything along that vein any of you have seen.

For instance, neither Mosher Tasting Beer, 2nd ed. or Alworth, The Beer Bible or Oliver, ed., The Oxford Companion to Beer have anything on SMaSH beer, although single-hopped does make an appearance in some of these.

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To participate in the July Session, on or before Friday, July 7, 2017, write a post and either leave a comment to the original announcement, e-mail your post’s link to mark . r . lindner @gmail . com or tweet him at @bythebbl.

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Next Session: Looking For Late, Lamented Loves

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For our 124th Session, our host will be David Bardallis‏, who writes All the Brews Fit to Pint, which focuses on Ann Arbor, and Michigan more generally. For his topic, he’s chosen Late, Lamented Loves, and while he confesses that the “late” part of that title is, at least in part, due to accidentally forgetting to post his announcement sooner (though to be fair, I forgot to remind him, which I usually try to do, so it’s not all on him) the result is that we all have one day to come up with a topic for tomorrow’s Session. Think of this month’s Session as a “speed session,” and shoot from the hip. And for his topic, that actually works. So what’s the topic? What’s a beer that’s no longer being brewed that you really miss, and wish was still available? Quick, top of your head? I can think of a few beers no longer around that I’d happily crack open if I could. I bet you can think of some, too, off the top of your head. “So… what are your late, lamented beer loves?” But here’s David’s full description:

Nevertheless, I think the chosen subject, “Late, Lamented Loves,” is still worth talking about. I mean a beer you remember fondly but which is no longer in production.

It needn’t be an objectively “great” beer, though it could be. It could also be a nostalgic or youthful memory. It could be a “go-to” you still reflexively want to reach for. It could be all of these things.

Maybe the brewery and the beer are both long gone. Maybe the brewery is still around but just decided for whatever reason not to continue producing the glorious nectar you still pine for.

Whatever the case, there’s probably at least one beer that’s already leapt to your mind that fits into this description. Maybe even more than one, and, if so, feel free to go there.

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To participate in the June Session, on or before Friday, June 2, 2017 — which is tomorrow — write a post as soon as you can and either e-mail your post’s link to annarborbeer@gmail.com or tweet him at @allthebrews. If that’s not quite enough time, don’t worry, if you “need more time than a day, hit [him] up anyway. [he]’ll continuously update in the days and weeks ahead as necessary.” Get cracking.

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Next Session: Pros & Cons Of Beer Online

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For our 123rd Session, our host will be Josh Weikert, who writes Beer Simple. For his topic, he’s chosen CyberBrew — Is the Internet Helping or Hurting Craft Beer? Thankfully, he elaborates on his thinking:

This month, we’re taking on the internet and craft beer: is it a help, a hinderance, an annoyance, or all of the above? How is beer drinking/brewing different in the internet age, and how is the internet changing the way brewers and craft beer drinkers do business?

Topics might include:

  • Marketing beer in the internet age
  • The astounding influence of beer bloggers to make or break breweries (just kidding, but seriously, what’s the effect of all of this quasi-journalistic beer commentary on the drinking and brewing public?)
  • How are beer reviews (expert and mass-market) affecting what gets brewed and drank?
  • Are beer apps for tracking and rating overly-“gamifying” beer (or does that make drinkers more adventurous)?
  • Just how fast do aleholes on message boards and elsewhere turn off prospective craft beer enthusiasts?

And, of course, I’m sure that you’re all more creative than me and there’s a lot I’m missing.

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To participate in the May Session, on or before Friday, May 5, 2017 — which is this Friday, just a few days away — write a post about your views about beer online, what Josh refers to as CyberBrew. “Leave a comment with a link to your post in the comment section” of the original post, “preferably by May 5th (the first Friday of the month, also known as ‘next Friday’). Even if you’re running a little late, leave your comment and I’ll catch it. The roundup will publish in mid-late May (I’d say that the 15th is a likely target), and we’ll see what everyone came up with.” Easy as 1-2-3.

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Beer Birthday: Alan McLeod

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Today is also beer blogger extraordinaire Alan McLeod’s 54th birthday. Alan runs a good beer blog, called — curiously enough — A Better Beer Blog, which replaced his earlier “A Good Beer Blog.” I’m not sure what came first, the goodness or the blog. Anyway, though I’ve yet to meet Alan in person I feel as if he’s already a great, not just good, friend through our many conversations via e-mail and commenting on one another’s blogs. If you haven’t read his essay in the book Beer & Philosophy yet, rush right out and buy yourself a copy. He also published The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer, with Max Bahnson, available as a Kindle single on Amazon, and last year co-wrote both Upper Hudson Valley Beer and Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to Hudson Bay. Join me in wishing Alan the very merriest of birthdays. Cheers, mate.

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Alan pondering the mysteries of Stonehenge at age 7.

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A night with bald pate, circa 2002.

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Contemplating a jump near Prince Edward Island a dozen years ago. Happily, he decided against getting wet.

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Letting everyone know his status as a VIP at an event in 2012. [Note: photo purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Joe Tucker

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Today is the 49th birthday of Joe Tucker, the “Boss” — a.k.a. Executive Director — at Rate Beer. He runs the website from his Vineyard bunker in Sonoma, California, although very soon he’ll be relocating the Rose city of Portland. Because I’m in the Bay Area, I run into Joe from time to time, and usually at the annual hop picking day at Moonlight Brewing, though we flew to San Diego together a few Decembers ago to visit Stone Brewing, too. More recently, he asked me to be the Emcee for the Rate Beer Best awards held in late January in Santa Rosa, which was great fun, and I look forward to doing it again a third time next year. Join me in wishing Joe a very happy birthday.

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Vinnie Cilurzo, me and Joe at the Pliny the Elder release a few years ago at Russian River Brewing.

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Joe with some of the Hop Press staff — Ken, Ashley, Mario and Mark — at Triple Rock’s Sour Fest 2010.

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At Fred Abercrombie’s Craft Beerd’s book launch party at Taps. Left to right; Fred Abercrombie, Ken Weaver, Anneliese Schmidt, Joe and Ron Lindenbusch, from Lagunitas.

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The day after we tried all of Stone’s Vertical Epic’s in San Diego; with Steve Wagner, me, Joe, Jason and Todd Alstrom and Greg Koch.

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Joe and me at this year’s RateBeer Best festival in Santa Rosa.

Beer Birthday: Knut Albert

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Today, it’ also the 57th birthday of Knut Albert Solem from Oslo, Norway, who has one of the premiere beer blogs in Scandinavia, Knut Albert’s Beer Blog. Though I’ve never met him in person, we have corresponded a time or two through blog comments or e-mail and I certainly enjoy his perspective on beer. Join me in wishing Knut a very happy birthday.

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Hoisting a pint (photo nicked from Knut’s Facebook page).

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Knut near water, the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland actually (ditto).

Beer Birthday: Chris Nelson

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Today is the 51st birthday of Chris Nelson, better known as The Beer Geek. Chris and his wife, Merideth Canham-Nelson, recently completed an around the world beer festival tour, but are still traveling the globe searching for great beer. A few years ago his wife also published Teachings From the Tap, her account of the year they spent circling the globe visiting beer destinations. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.

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The first “official meeting” of the Bay Area Beer Bloggers. From left: Merideth Canham-Nelson, me, Chris, JJ (the Thirsty Hopster), and Gail Ann Williams and Steve Shapiro, both from Beer by BART.

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In front of the Rocky statue in downtown Philadelphia during our trip to the first Philly Beer Week.

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At the OBF media tasting: Rick Sellers, from Pacific Brew News, Merideth and Chris Nelson, The Beer Geek, and Meagan Flynn (at right) with her assistant, Annalou, former publishers of Beer NW during the 2007 Oregon Brewers Festival.

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Chris, at right, with Shaun O’Sullivan, Merideth, and Jeff White in Pub Talk Radio in Monterey in September of last year.

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Chris and Merideth at Pangea in 2012 (photo “borrowed” from Facebook, by Virginia Vasquez)

Beer Birthday: Todd Alström

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Today is the 48th birthday of Todd Alström, co-founder of Beer Advocate. With his brother Jason, Todd has created one of the killer apps of the beer world online and the only monthly beer magazine. Though we only run into one another from time to time, we always have a good time. We also shared a week in Bavaria on a press junket in 2007, and had a terrific fry crawl in Boston a number of years ago, before he relocated to Denver a couple of years ago, and more recently became a father. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.

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Todd (at right), with brother Jason and Jaime Jurado, head brewer from Gambrinus, at the 2008 GABF.

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During a trip to Bavaria in 2007, the gang of twelve plus three at the Faust Brauerei in Miltenberg, Germany. From left: Cornelius Faust, me, Lisa Morrison, Johannes Faust, Julie Bradford, Andy Crouch, Peter Reid, Horst Dornbusch, Jeannine Marois, Harry Schumacher, Tony Forder, Candice Alström, Don Russell, Jason Alström and Todd Alström.

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Todd with Rhonda Kallman at the Blue Palm in L.A., after the premiere of Beer Wars.

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Me, Todd, Jason Alström, Joe Tucker and Greg Koch showing off our sample bottles of Enjoy By 12.21.12 in San Diego four Decembers ago.

Getting Comfortable With Discomfort

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For our 119th Session, our host will be Alec Latham, who writes Mostly About Beer …. For his topic, he’s chosen Discomfort Beer, by which he means a beer which initially tasted funny, or odd, or off, or something, but which later became a favorite. Or maybe it didn’t. I’m not sure if I’m explaining that very well, so I’ll just let Alec take over and describe what he means:

What was your first ever taste of beer like? For me, it was like chilled copper coins mixed with tonic water and was disgusting. This is a process us committed beer drinkers can revisit every time we try something new.

A few years ago, I visited a pub in Pimlico called the Cask and Kitchen. There was a beer called Wild Raven by Thornbridge Brewery. Making assumptions based on the title, I ordered a pint as I love stout. I remember opening the sluices and then seizing up. Something wasn’t right. It had the chocolatey flavour of a stout but there was an intruder – lemon rind hissed in my nostrils and tainted my palate. Citrus grappled with the roast malt. Was it supposed to taste like this? Was it infection? Detergent? I spent some time staring at the floor in a suspended double-take.

That was my first ever Black IPA and at the time I wasn’t sure. Initially, I didn’t like it but whilst deciding whether or not to return it to the bar I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt. The dislike diminished. The acceptance grew. The pint gradually drained.

Black IPA is now one of my favourite styles but it could have gone the other way.

And does a Black IPA still get me blinking at the floor in a state of disquiet? No. Neither does the astringent character of Brett nor the dry bite of Lambic. All styles have been comprehensively “locked in”. Ultimately, familiarity devours discomfort.

For Session 119 I’d like you 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. Also, this can’t include beers that were compromised, defective, flat, off etc because this is about deliberate styles. It would be interesting to see if these experiences are similar in different countries.

I think this could be a good archive for people researching fads, the origins of styles and the dearths of others – but especially how new ones were initially perceived.

Over the past year I’ve had a black barley wine, a braggot, a rye wine, a seaweed and cloudberry Gose, a beer made with Saki yeast and several made with Champagne yeast. I’ve sipped stout with Tonka beans, drank mulled lager and many tea beers – some with the tea complementing the hops – others completely replacing them. This has also been a year where 9 ABV hop-forward beers have become standard (from the UK perspective).

Some of the above I loved, others I liked and some I hated. What remains to be seen is which will catch on and which are just brief social media cameos.

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So start thinking about that new beer or new take on a familiar beer that made you wonder. Did you come around to it? Or did it stay as questionable as the first sip and never seemed like a good idea in the end? Did you react the same as others or is just something that you never came around on?

To participate in January’s Session, on or before January 6, 2017, post your comforting thoughts about discomfort beer and leave your URL to the link at the original announcement. Now that won’t cause any discomfort, will it? The only way you can be wrong, is to not participate.

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