“…of Allsopp’s Strong Christmas Ale, a potent, limited edition beer described as ‘mellow as old Burgundy and as nourishing as a beefsteak.’ The latest in the ‘extreme beer’ craze that has swept the nation.”
Well, no, they weren’t. The time was the mid-1800’s and it’s doubtful that anyone was talking about so-called “extreme” beers, even if they were drinking what today might well fit the bill.
The reason I mention this, aside from its obvious value as beer history, is in response to the manufactured “feud” between the beer extremists and session beer advocates, as if a fondness for one type of beer precludes an affinity for the other. For the purpose of this illustration, however, let’s imagine that such a feud does exist.
Were there actually to be two such camps, the Arctic Ale/Strong Christmas Ale story demonstrates that the populace of the former group are advocating for something that simply does not exist. There have always been beers of strength, high hopping rates – at least, since hops were welcomed into the brewhouse – unusual ingredients, barrel-aging and so forth, hence there is nothing “extreme” about such beers or techniques in brewing today. They are as old as beer itself.
Session beers, on the other hand, are defined as being of a strength conducive to drinking over the course of an elongated session. You and I (and Lew) may differ as to what constitutes such a strength, but I think we can all agree that lower alcohol beers are session beers and so session beers do exist.
Thus, if the “extreme” vs. session feud did exist, victory must go to the sessioners, since the extremists are arguing in favour of a figment of their imaginations.