Beer Jargon Part 2
Work up thirst with round 2 of our series on beer jargon.
A session beer is a brew that has a moderate enough ABV – think sub 5% - that you can drink quite a few without getting completely plastered as well as being a quality beer that is flavoursome, well balanced, with a clean, fresh finish.
Picture the scene: you’re at mate’s BBQ, it’s kicked off sometime in the afternoon, you know it’s likely to continue pretty late into the evening but it’s not going to be one of those ones where someone gets naked, climbs on the roof and jumps into the pool. It’s a bit tamer than that but still plenty of laughs and good company.
There’s some of that awesome HopDog Shizzam IIPA in the fridge but you’re like “whoa, if I have a few of those I’ll be that dude getting naked and trying to fly so I’ll go for that delicious Burleigh Brewing 28 Pale Ale instead so I can still turn the snags and hold a conversation at the same time” Get the drift? Despite what some craft beer nerds will insist, a session beer doesn’t have to be boring – in fact it most definitely shouldn’t be boring - and you still should drink it responsibly (we are all about responsible drinking here at Beer Days). Beer Days go-to session brews these days are ParrotDog’s Flaxen Feather Golden/Pale Ale and Young Henry’s Natural Lager.
The history of this term in relation to beer involves perilous 18th century shipping voyages from England to the icy Baltic states, royal Russian courts, czars, empresses, rogues, and the like. The generally accepted, though still slightly murky story is that an extra strong custom stout was brewed in England by Barclay Perkins specifically for export to the Imperial Court of Russia where it was apparently consumed with gusto by Empress Catherine II and her squad. Hence the “imperial” brew.
These days beers with “imperial” or sometimes “double” in the label mean that they are likely to be bigger in just about every sense – more hops, more malt, more alcohol.
There’s no royalty involved now, but the term “imperial” and its associated exotic history of hardcore Russians whose apparent ability to withstand the absolute harshest of conditions, made them uniquely partial to hardcore brews, has rubbed off, especially in America where they like to out hardcore everyone and everything. To get your imperial fix, Beer Days recommends Nomad’s Supersonic DIPA, Lervig Brewer’s Konrad Imperial Stout and Brewdog’s Hardcore IIPA
The phenomenon of so-called gypsy brewing is on the rise and rise in the craft beer world. (Worth clarifying: with regard to brewing, “gypsy” refers to a nomadic approach to beer creation, not to the Romani people and we use the term advisedly as “gypsy” is considered a pretty loaded and often pejorative term these days.) Investing in, running, and maintaining the entire infrastructure required for a bricks and mortar brewery costs, to put it mildly, a bomb. Brewers who cannot or do not wish to make that investment sometimes have the option of using the brewing facilities of an existing brewer to create their beers. What we love this approach is that gypsy brewers can afford to be a little more experimental in their approach and some unusual and beautiful beers have come onto the market as a result.
Not everyone, however, is enamoured with the idea though given that in an already crowded market, gypsy brewers get to “have their say” so to speak, without contributing any lasting infrastructure. Given our experience of gypsy brews has generally been awesome, we find it hard to get too wound up about that but accept that it might rub you up the wrong way if you were in debt up to your eyeballs! For a taste of the gypsy brewing movement, Beer Days recommends Edge Brewing/Evil Twin’s Rye Pilsner and Edge Brewing’s Cool Hops lager.