10 March 2009

Loved lager: The Session round-up

Session logoThanks to everyone who got down and clean-tasting for my lager-themed Session last weekend. 49 participants is a very respectable showing and I think between us we really covered the topic -- one which I hoped was usefully broad, even if some of you disagreed.

I've spent the last two evenings going through the posts and have thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I couldn't help but start categorising them into those who gave me the mass-market beers I wanted, and those who just couldn't bring themselves to do it. So, without it being any measure of the quality of the posts themselves, I give you the Fails and Wins of Session 25:

The Fails
First fail, of course, was me. Some microbrewed lager and then a rare specialty? I really didn't represent my home country's crap lager very well, though neither did any of my fellow countrymen and countrywoman for that matter, as we'll see below.

Thom at Black Cat, for instance, tries to hide his fail behind science, picking an African import, and rather liking it. Hop Talk's Al also went for an import because he happened to be mostly drinking Samuel Smith's last week and far be it from me to change that.

Ray of The Barley Blog reckons he's found the "the perfect beer for this month's Session, both in terms of style and relevance." It's an ale. That word again: Ale. Maybe I didn't make the theme clear enough in the title. At Musings Over A Pint, David tells us there's enough good lager out there for us not to be concerned at the reputation of the mass market stuff, but gives us nothing on whether that reputation is deserved or not.

Paul of A Flowery Song is among the conscientious failers: denying that his beery exploits began with pale lager, and refusing to go mass-market just this once. His Frugal Joe's Ordinary Beer is just a bit too knowingly cheap to count, I think: classless beers are only fun when they're trying to be something they plainly aren't.

Mario would like us to believe that he had to make do with a Lagunitas Pils, because every other beer he saw for sale was a powerful and/or hoppy ale. Maybe that is what "Sonoma Joe Six-Pack" goes for when he wants a lager, but by the sounds of it he doesn't have much time for the style at all. Up in Portland, Bill has similar trouble and opts for a retro-styled local craft lager. A World of Brews also goes craft on me -- Coney Island Lager -- but does put in a good word for Pabst Blue Ribbon when out with the Hash House Harriers. Rob of Pfiff! is another claiming the California Defence -- no crap beer to be found -- and refuses to go out and play with the other kids. Top marks for title punnage though.

Edmond of MMMM....Beer gives us Legends, a Virginian micro-lager up with the best Germany has to offer and therefore a total fail. At I'll Have a Beer, Couchand tells us that Millstream's Iowan pilsner is leaning more towards Bavarian than Czech influences this year. Well fancy! Fail. At least Tom has an excuse for his microbrewed Stoudts Pils: he works for the distributor. Cha-ching!

I sympathise with, and apologise for, the crisis I induced in Damien when he just couldn't bring himself to buy a full six-pack of crap as his beer shop didn't do singles, and opted for something more interesting instead. Similarly, my attempt to lay the smack down on Ted of Barley Vine failed as he avoided the beer equivalent of Kraft Singles and steered a middle course for something decent, local, but generally avoided by serious beer-drinkers for no good reason he can see.

Beer-O-Vision's Dan manages to avoid telling us much about drinking beer, with no mention of any actual brand of lager, but then he was judging a homebrew competition.

I missed talking to Thirsty Pilgrim Joe at the Cantillon open brew day on Saturday, and I also totally forgot to pick up a bottle of the Slaapmutske Dry-Hopped lager while I was in Belgium, even though I meant to. But Joe skips past Jupiler to get to this, so it's a fail, I'm afraid.

The Wins
Velky Al and Adeptus, living in the Czech Republic and Germany respectively had fishes in barrels for this one. Al gives us a run down of the Czech Republic's legendary lagers, and why they should be stripped of their status (corn syrup!), then shows us where to look for the good stuff. Adeptus really went above and beyond with the theme this time round, staging a blind tasting of five common German lagers for his pilsener-loving workmates. It looks like Jever isn't the German classic it's often made out to be.

From the Acceptable Uses For Bland Lager file, we have