You, Sir, Are an Ass

My buddy Lew Bryson pointed me towards this story, but while he had the good sense to dismiss it in two short sentences, I find myself unable to let it pass without greater comment. So here goes…

Mr. Fool…may I call you Pour?…you have completely misunderstood the entire concept of a session beer and, in fact, beer in general. It is a multi-faceted drink, no doubt, but at its very heart is sociability. Meeting with friends and enjoying a beer or three is surely one of life’s greatest pleasures, and while you may enjoy drinking one or two beers and calling it quits, my friends and I, including the aforementioned Mr. Bryson, sometimes wish to stay up and enjoy each other’s company until the wee hours. And we embrace so doing without winding up stumbling drunk.

Which, Pour, is why the session beer exists. It is the social elixir, the pint in our hands as we review the past days or weeks or months, pass judgement on the recent performances of our sports teams or politicians or colleagues and generally shoot the shit, sometimes for but an hour or two and sometimes for considerably longer. It fuels our conversations while sparing us severe intoxication.

And contrary to your belief, Pour, it is only occasionally a pilsner. Sure, if said conversation is occurring in Prague, it might likely be a pilsner or related Czech lager, or in Bavaria it could be a helles or dunkel, or in Downington, Pennsylvania, up the road from where Lew lives, it might be a Victory Prima Pils, but in my local pub it’s just as likely to be a pale ale or weizen or mild ale or other lower strength, non-lager brew. In Pete Brown‘s local, when I’m visiting him in London, it will most certainly be a pint of best bitter, at least for the first one, which it might well also be when I’m catching up with friends at Spinnakers in Victoria, BC. Next month in Antwerp, where I plan to be based for the Alvinne and Zythos festivals, I might start with a bolleke or two of De Konninck. Non-pilsner session beers, one and all.

In short, Pour, in case you’ve missed my drift, session beers are anything but crass imitations of Bud or Coors Light or MGD. They are, in fact, bold and flavourful beers that happen to be lower in alcohol than your standard American IPA or Imperial stout, spiritual if not literal descendants of the British pub bitter or mild from which they appropriated their name. They’re as tasty as the 21st Amendment beer you review, if not even tastier, and millions of us out here in the great, big world of beer diversity enjoy them tremendously.

You should join us sometime.

19 Replies to “You, Sir, Are an Ass”

  1. Well said Stephen, well said. (standing and applauding). The 10%ABV Imperial Stouts have a place at the table, but more often than not I find myself sitting with the session beers. If session beers didn’t sell, then why are there so many of them?

  2. “For a lot of people, it’s a term they use to excuse their habit of lapsing out of craft brews and back to the lager/pils crap they drank as teenagers.”

    you can but imagine the rage that bubbles inside when people dismiss lager and pilsner as the antithesis of craft beer. This twerp is the antithesis of a knowledgeable beer lover.

  3. Quite the rollercoaster of an article. Good point on the stupidity of the “knock ’em back” mentality then a misunderstanding of why session is different from that mentality followed by a gross overgeneralization of the style, then a uber-flowery review.

    I would not say “ass” though. I still think that session beers are too often seen too narrowly and misunderstood much in the way that winter ales can be because they can’t be pinned down and categorized (as you well illustrated).

    Beer education will never cease to be needed. Thanks for pointing out his flawed thinking.

  4. Jesus Christ. Give the guy a break. He might not know much about session beer (even though he wrote an entire post basically pointing out his error) but at least he doesn’t come off like a middle school bully. Congrats. You’re a blogger on the internet.

    1. “Middle school bully,” wow! Was it my pointing out of his errors — which you acknowledge — or my playful use of the word “ass” that garnered me such high praise, Flagon? Either way, I’m proud; achieving the status of Internet bully is something I’ve long sought.

      1. FofA, the guy says this:

        “Hey, I’m a Beer Snob, as I gleefully admit, and the idea of drinking more of something I ordinarily wouldn’t drink at all, just because I’m trying to avoid getting too drunk or full, seems really lazy and stupid. If I don’t want to get too drunk or full, I’ll drink fine ales and drink less. ” and “I’ve tried every one of the beers that anyone I know calls a session beer and they all sucked.”

        And you say he doesn’t come off like a middle school bully? If he doesn’t, it’s only because he’s not targeting one person, it’s because he’s slagging an entire class of people. His ignorance was only slightly more offensive than his dismissive, condescending attitude; if I were to be a prick myself, I’d guess that was something he learned as a wine writer.

        As someone else noted, though, his review of the actual beer in question was dead-on, if a bit gushing.

        1. Well said, Lew. (Amazed that I failed to pick up on that “tried every session beer…and they all sucked” line. That’s what? About 90% of the British ale market? Yeah, that Timothy Taylor Landlord really blows…)

      2. Yes, exactly Lew, he’s not singling any one person out, which is a bit different. And making fun of a “class” of people? I don’t know about that, but if he’s guilty of it, you and I both are for poking fun at extreme-beer fans as well. And speaking of which, if you really need to poke fun at someone, Beer Advocate still exists, and does a much more effective job at dumbing down beer and distributing misinformation.

  5. While you are, of course, quite correct that this guy seems to have a very weak and strange concept of beer, it seems to me this is representative of a much bigger problem than one ridiculous blogger.

    Anyone can blog. Anyone can edit Wikipedia. Anyone can recommend (or trash) films on IMdB, anyone can give travel advice (there are many sites for that), anyone can give restaurent advice, etc.

    Sadly, the Internet has in too many cases (but always for the $ame rea$on) broken down the barriers to authority. We have now the ‘citizen journalist’, for example. Why bother going to journalism school (do they even still exist?) if anyone can be a journalist, with or without experience?

    Enthusiasm has replaced education and experience. Any idiot can write any piece of drivel he likes and there will be some place (more likely many places) on the Internet where he can publish it (for free, no less).

    And let’s not forget research. Who needs that? Bloggers don’t have editors, they can say whatever they like.

    Want to publish a book about beer? No problem, the Brewers Publications will be happy to publish it. Research not required (or is it: not wanted?)

    The amount of misinformation on the Internet, about both beer and other things, is truly staggering. In fact, on some subjects (beer, for example), I would wager the misinformation outweighs the information.

      1. You make a good point. Personally, I find the blogs worse than the traditonal media. It is also ironic that newspapers and magazines have editors, while bloggers don’t, yet both seem to ignore research and fact-finding. Perhaps for the traditional media it is because they are fighting to survive and so, saving money and time.

      2. I actually find the traditional media worse. The people who sign articles are being paid for that, the articles aren’t published without going first through an editor, who is also paid for that, and yet, the quality of many of those articles is truly appalling. (you should see the atrocities about beer that you can find in the Spanish speaking media)
        Bloggers, on the other hand, or at least most of them, are people who write in their free time about something that interests them. The reason why there’s so much rubbish in blogs is simply because there are a lot of them. However, and thanks to the sheer nature of the internet, most people eventually gravitate towards the more quality ones.

  6. Well said!!!
    A session beer is the best beer you can have with your friends. It is not a style, and specially, it is not alwats a pils. It CAN be a pils, if thats people want to drink, but it can also be any beer you enjoy!

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