Tis the Season of Beer Sessionability
A couple of recent Brews News articles prompted something of a robust discussion about the current beer trends in Australia. It seems we may not be so rigidly following the US trends as we once were but are beginning to set our own course when it comes to our favoured tipples. A bit as do our good bros in the Eight State – New Zealand.
The trend towards ‘smack-ya-round-the-chops-with-hops’ IPAs, Double IPAs and Imperial Double Late-Hopped IPAs, is still leading the way in the Land of the Free, while here and across the ditch it seems we may be yearning for a gentler brew that is more in keeping with our sunny climate.
We may even be heralding The Season of Sessionability.
In addition, some recent Twitter action indicated that I may not be alone in feeling something of a new-found fondness for lagers and pilsners. It seems that ‘lager’ is a bit of a naughty word in some beer circles, but anyone who has spent a couple of hours on the wrong end of a lawnmower in 30 degree heat will know the sheer joy of quenching the thirst with a Big Helga, a Mildura Mallee Bull, a James Squire Sundowner or a crisp Trumer Pils.
These beers may not have the same ‘street cred’ as their more refined and socially accepted sister-ales but they can often do the job that an ale cannot and they can make a beer a pleasure with their softer profile and gentler bitterness. They are also often joined by hyphens to form the same old clichés decrying beer in general like ‘lager-louts and lager-frenzy’ and they make up a fair proportion of the beers seen stacked ten cases high on pallets in the big beer retailers barns with giant *SPECIAL*!!! Signs attached.
Some, however, have hidden talents and charms that those who espouse an ‘ales-only’ approach to beer sometimes forget or overlook. A crisp and firmly bitter Bohemian/Czech-styled Pilsner (Matilda Bay,Moo Brew (absolute cracker)) can partner a range of rich, spicy or oily dishes and a softer more floral aroma of a more standardised Pilsner can perfectly complement a mild and fragrant seafood or chicken dish. I challenge anyone to suppress the smile that emerges as a tall frosty glass of Bavaria’s Weihenstephaner Pilsner* is placed next to a platter of spicy antipasti. So there!
In fact, while they are not considered by some as a particularly good partner to food, some of the most surprising matches encountered by this writer have involved a nice hoppy or cleansing pilsner. To state the obvious and to paraphrase Sal from the old 1980’s TV ad for engine lubricant; “Lagers ain’t lagers!”
Here in The Lucky Beer Country we are further blessed by a selection of pale ales that, whilst not actually lagers, are brewed a bit like a lager (at lower temperatures) and at least with a lager in mind. In addition, Steam Ales (Mountain Goat), or Californian Common styled beers fit this category neatly.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; ‘A bloke with the nickname Prof Pilsner is obviously going to raise the banner for this beer style’, and, truth be told, I am and always have been a fan of a well made lager. Be it a Bock, Lager, Pilsner, Schwartzbier or even the humble Premium Lager a nice easy-drinking ‘session beer’ is always a part of the repertoire.
This summer, with a few lazy afternoons, good company and plenty of stinkin’ hot days thrown in, the humble lager beer has been a more prominent member of the fridge family. Similar opinions from friends and colleagues have served to strengthen my resolve to upgrade this particular bloke to a full member of the club. There are still plenty of hot days left in this summer, so get out and reacquaint yourself with an old friend.
*For something in the Bavarian style try James Squire Pilsner, Grand Ridge Brewer’s Pilsner, Red Hill’s new Pilsner (very good – get around it) Little Creatures Pilsner, Knappstein Reserve Lager or have a crack at a Stone & Wood Lager or a Hawthorn Pilsner. European styled locals include Mildura Brewery’s Stephano’s Pilsner, Bluetongue,
On tap, look out for Thunder Road Full Steam Pale Lager and Young Henry’s Fresh Lager – two beers I have enjoyed recently that absolutely hit the spot at the right time.
Apologies to any crackers I have failed to mention by name here. Feel free to fill in the gaps for me.