NOT a post about the ABV of session beer, but…..
05/09/2011

…still me bitching and moaning about session beer!

OK, I’m gonna hold the “correct ABV of session beer” rant for another post (that’s going to be a long one!), but I just wanted to get this quick thing off my chest.

In the USA it has now become ‘trendy’ to like/produce/talk about ‘session beer’ amongst a whole generation of beer geeks that have been brought up on quite the opposite. Frankly, many of these people wouldn’t know a tasty, well-crafted, 3-5%, malt based brew if it bit them on the ass. Now to me that’s simply an annoyance, and you probably couldn’t care less that I am aggravated (in fact, it seems like about 1 in 10 of you would be DELIGHTED that I’m aggravated by this!), but there is a more damaging, sinister side to all of this. The damage comes in two areas;

Firstly there is a growing assertion that ANYTHING under 6% *must* be really good since after all, “it’s a session beer”! We’re seeing a new, reverse manifestation of the, ‘it’s-barrel-aged-double-imperial-over-10%-so-it-must-be-good’ mentality, which is just as wrong when applied to lower ABV beers as it is when it is applied to higher ABV. The ability to discern is being lost.

Secondly, because these people know relatively nothing about fantastically crafted, lower ABV beer, they think that by definition the lower ABV should be accompanied by a lower price tag. NONSENSE – pay for quality regardless of the alcohol content. Regardlesss of the cost of ingredients, I find the idea that ABV should drive the price of a beer utterly ridiculous. Acknowledge the craft and be prepared to pay for it. Good beer should cost more. Period.

Of course, these problems are rooted in the extreme culture that pervades everything in the US, and beer is just one part of that culture.


6 Comments

  1. Timmons P

    I agree with a whole lot of your opinions, but that last bit doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Shouldn’t one expect higher ABV beer, by and large, to have higher price tags simply because of the increased amount of ingredients by volume? Similarly, shouldn’t one expect barrel-aged beers to have a higher price tag due to the cost of the barrels, storage while aging, etc.?

    Only disputing the price tag part of your argument, not the merits of “session” or America’s impending love affair with it (it’s inevitable, and to your point is starting). Also, I can think of anecdotal examples of low-priced high-ABV, and high-priced low-ABV beers, but I’m talking about the rule & not the exceptions.

    Reply
  2. Ding

    The ingredient cost is often overstated, since in many cases (not all) the % of the actual cost of beer is rooted NOT in the ingredients but in the production, packaging and distribution (etc.) cost. So, a beer with a cheaper bill for the ingredients, still costs the same in term of the other outlay. However, why not be prepared to pay for high quality??

    Reply
  3. Timmons P

    I am prepared to pay for quality, I’m just making the point that, *all things equal*, beers that cost more to make (even if only 5% more) should cost more to the consumer. In other words, I would expect a barleywine to cost more than a pale ale if both came from the same brewery in similar packaging. That’s all.

    ::stops arguing with Ding on Ding’s Beer Blog::

    Reply
  4. Mark

    you can argue with ding on his blog, in fact he encourages it. Differing opinions instead of a pack mentality are what seperates him from that other beer website.

    Reply
  5. Bryan

    A few years ago I had a bottle of Mann’s Brown Ale. I have never enjoyed an American made mild ale since. The amount of flavor packed into that beer for such low alcohol is inspiring.

    Reply
  6. Lew Bryson

    “Secondly, because these people know relatively nothing about fantastically crafted, lower ABV beer, they think that by definition the lower ABV should be accompanied by a lower price tag. NONSENSE – pay for quality regardless of the alcohol content. Regardlesss of the cost of ingredients, I find the idea that ABV should drive the price of a beer utterly ridiculous. Acknowledge the craft and be prepared to pay for it. Good beer should cost more. Period.”

    Well, by God, we do agree on ONE thing. Are these people paying for good beer, or for alcohol?

    Reply

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