Category: The Session


The Session logo

The session, otherwise known as beer blogging Friday (I know, it’s Saturday, I’m late, deal with it), is a once a month gathering of the beer bloggers of the world to get together and talk about beer. Each month there is a specific topic. This month the session is being hosted by Oliver of literatureandlibation.com. He has asked us to all review a beer without actually reviewing it. I know that sounds like a paradoxically illogical piece of nonsense but hear him out. He explains it better:

I know it sounds like the yeast finally got to my brain, but hear me out: I mean that you can’t write about SRM color, or mouthfeel, or head retention. Absolutely no discussion of malt backbones or hop profiles allowed. Lacing and aroma descriptions are right out. Don’t even think about rating the beer out of ten possible points.

But, to balance that, you can literally do anything else you want. I mean it. Go beernuts. Uncap your muse and let the beer guide your creativity.

I want to see something that lets me know what you thought of the beer (good or bad!) without explicitly telling me. Write a short story that incorporates the name, an essay based on an experience you had drinking it, or a silly set of pastoral sonnets expressing your undying love for a certain beer.

The beer which I want to discuss I have already reviewed before on this blog. It is a beer which is brewed locally to me and was just starting to make some headway in breaking into the local supermarkets. The beer was called Shambles and it was made by Potton Brewery. Notice the last sentence is in the past tense. I recently looked up the brewery website after I saw a  ‘reduced to clear’ label on a bottle in Tescos. I have found that the brewery has been taken over and all by a new outfit and is well, except the beer of theirs, for which I can not express my feelings, has been removed from their list of beers.

Now my main ways of expressing myself about beer are either to write about it on this blog or harp on about it to my mates who are probably sick of it all by now. Being creative in a new way is something I have had to think about, hard. Expressing myself through the medium of modern dance is not something I want to do, or indeed any of you want to see. I’m not all that skilled with a paintbrush and a definitely can’t sing. I could think up a song, but I couldn’t play it (owning a ukulele ≠ being a musician).

What I can do is pinch other peoples creativity and so I give you the Shambles 4.3% playlist. I’m sure I won’t be the only one to do something similar. Hopefully the narrative of what I mean will become obvious.

I’d like to start this post off by saying that my fingers smell like plastic and I have no idea why. Whether this is a good omen for writing a quality post or not, I don’t know, but in the interests of full disclosure I thought I’d better put it out there.

The Session logo

Beer and women. That is the session topic for this month. Our host for the month, Nicth of tastingnitch.com, has left the topic pretty open. This is a huge subject and there are so many ways to go with it. Nitch suggests a few different avenues, none of which I feel are quite right for me (I’m definitely not doing a history spot. I’ll leave that to Ron Pattinson. I dropped history as soon as humanly possible at school).

I was flicking through this months copy of CAMRA’s Beer magazine for some inspiration as to where to go with this and came across an entire article about Sara Barton of Brewsters Brewing Company. I was surprised by how few times the piece makes reference to her gender. Apart from the title “FEMALE TRAILBLAZER” the article actually goes on to tell Sara’s story and how she became the fantastic brewer she is. And trust me she is a great brewer I have sampled some of her beers at different beer festivals over the years, I’ve never had one which was even mediocre. Oh! and the article does go on a bit about her involvement in the Project Venus, and how she was one of only three women amongst the hundreds of men when she was working for Courage, and the obvious mention of her winning the brewer of the year award (2012 – 2013) awarded by the British guild of beer writers (making her the first woman to do so). My point is that these all things which are pertinent to the article and they are mentioned because they are interesting things and are important within the story. Had this article been written even five years ago there would have been a tone to the story which reading between the lines read “Hey lads, look at this! There’s a person brewing beer thats not terrible, and he’s a she!” like the most important thing about this beer is the brewer has different genitals. Mind you, I would be interested to hear about a beer being brewed by this bloke…

If you don't get that joke.. watch this

If you don’t get that joke…
watch this

Another thing I’ve noticed is that less and less women who blog about beer, brew beer or are in some way involved in this little bubble of beer geekery that we find ourselves in seem to feel the need to make such a big deal about their gender.  In the past there was clearly a need to make the point that these people were women as well as beer geeks. Some of the twitter handles make my point: @TheBeerWench @beerbabe @bierebelle. @realalegirlShea @BeerBeauty. More women, such as our illustrious host, are just using their name, because there is nothing wrong with that.

Finally I’d just like to say in the six years that I have been going to beer festivals I have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of young women attending. Yes, it’s true. Not just CAMRA propaganda. The first beer festival I went to was Bedford Beer festival, many years before I started any blog, and the only girls that were there were clearly all being dragged along by partners and husbands and friends. Indeed, our group was no different, ladies present because they were basically told that “this is what we ARE doing tonight”. The most recent festival was also Bedford, this year, and I can report that was a marked improvement in the numbers of ladies. I have to be honest, there were still women those who had the look on there face which read “bloody hell, not this shit again. Every bloody year he drags me here”, but there were young groups where everyone was having a good time, and they weren’t all congregating around the one barrel of sweet cider either, they were actually trying the beer and enjoying it!

So there you go, three things about beer and women which I have noticed change in the past few years. I think together they sum up as being a girl is becoming less important and the beer they brew/blog about/drink is. Will this do Nitch?

Edit:

Write post. Check ✔.
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Hug a beer feminist to hug… err.. Do you think their listed in the yellow pages?

The Session logo

I know I write this every month, but for those of you who are new this is The Session. The Session is an idea whereby beer bloggers come together once a month and blog about a similar topic. This month the Session is being hosted by Ding of Ding’s Beer Blog, and he asks:

 ‘What the hell has America done to beer?‘, AKA, ‘USA versus Old World Beer Culture‘.

Now I must confess, my experience of American beers is pretty poor. I’ve tried Coors light, I didn’t like it. I’ve tried Budweiser, I didn’t like it much either. I tried Samuel Adam’s, which was alright, ditto Sierra Nevada. I’m sure there have been a few others but for the most part I don’t have access to anything very interesting from America. What I have tried , however, are lots of American style beers which British brewers are coming up with.

The American’s seem to have a mantra of taking an idea, in this case beer, and doubling everything (because bigger is always better) and claiming it must be better because there is more hops in it . Then the new idea catches on, eventually it becomes its own thing and now the world copies the American way of doing things. Now the American craft beer scene is permeating it’s way into the British industry and we’re slowly seeing more and more American inspired beers, which were originally inspired by old style beers in the first place. Brewdog’s Hardcore IPA (9.2%), Fuller’s Wild River (4.5) and Adnam’s Innovation (6.7%) are just a few which spring to mind.

usapint

I got bored so I drew a picture to illustrate a what an American pint is.

This is not a bad thing, the new beers are great. The beer styles which were available before are still here and we can still go to the pub and enjoy them too, but on top of that is a new option.

To me it seems like it’s just the next step, moving on and experimenting with something different. The world changes every day in all sorts of different ways, why should beer stay the same? It just happens that this particular leap in the evolution of beer has happened to take place in America. So to sum up, what have the American’s done to beer? Nothing beer is still here, the old styles are still here and it can still be found being served in the old pubs that it always was. There just happens to also be another option as well.