There is a discussion that has been going on for some time on various beer blogs and in forums like ratebeer about extreme beers vs session beers. Some beer writers and enthusiasts are tired of the imperial stouts and super hoppy IPAs and want to promote the more modest, traditional styles.
I have, especially when reporting from my travels, covered many styles, from the most modest lager to high strength porters. There is room for them all, but I have, obviously some preferences. Let me elaborate a little.
In countries like Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, you have traditional high quality lagers and strong traditions of sticking to your local brew. These beers are usually more tasty than the global brands, and if you are lucky you will find an unfiltered version or a bock in addition to the standard Pils or Helles.
This is fine if you are passing through a town or village or just stay for the weekend. You may very well find a lovely pilsener with a crisp hoppy aroma to chase your troubles away. On the other hand, you might find yourself with a limited choice of two zwickls, low in hops and with an unspectacular flavour, leaving you searching desperately for something more exiting.
Cross the English channel, and you find a similar situation. Lots of medium strength session ales, most of them run of the mill, some of them packed with flavour. And they have their zwickls, too – a classic mild is a beer I am unable to rave about. It is too … mild.
For everyday use, I would like regular access to high quality session beers. A hoppy German pilsener, a weiss or wit, a British cask bitter. These are fine to drink with food. They are just the thing for a balmy summer evening. And one pint too many does not leave you legless.
It is important to have quality in this segment instead of leaving it to the Danish/Dutch/US big guys with their featureless bland macros they try to pass off as premium. These quality brews can be local or imported, preferably a choice of both. A good example is Sweden, where the range of imports has exploded – but at the same time there are micros brewing amazing session beers – Jämtland and Nils Oscar are two breweries worth mentioning.
(to be continued)