Friday, January 02, 2009

The Session #23 - In with the new

90-Minute IPA became my cooking buddy in 2008
It was recently announced that Dogfish Head and BeerAdvocate had teamed up to collaborate on a special "extreme" beer, to be brewed in preparation for February's Extreme Beer Fest in Boston, MA. In my mind, there's nothing more telling about the state of affairs in the beer world (and as a reflection on all of our situations in general) that this literal icon of extreme-ness-osity, coming from a brewery most famous for it's 20% alcohol (that's 40 proof, and nearly twice as strong as the wine we've got in the fridge) 120-Minute IPA, and a ratings publication with a top 100 list dominated by strong beers, imperial stouts and the like, typically exceeding 10% alcohol, this juggernaut of in-your-face Amerigasm full-throttle brewing ferocity, one spiked with ingredients such as chestnuts, green peppercorns, and Korean corn tea (aka "Oksusu-cha"), is going to rock your extreme socks at the tune of 8% alcohol by volume. Now I'm not saying that abv is the measure of beer extremitude, nor am I saying that this is a harbinger of the "year of the session", but it does hint to the fact that 2009 for everyone, everywhere, with almost everything, will be the year of scaling back.

Here, 2008 was a year of virgin tastings - many, many tastings - of some of the most hyped, expensive, storied, and exciting beers we've had the chance to experience. There was, in no short order, gluttony and excess. No expense was spared in getting sips of some legendary stuff, and for the most part, no expense was spared in keeping the home stocked with so much top shelf ale that each week presented a foray into as yet unexplored tastes. Of course, it didn't hurt that we got some new beers distributed to the area, along with some new places to buy it, and some new friends to share them with. But 2009 promises to be very, very different. Gluttony, for sure, if that's possible to achieve amidst modesty and restraint.

Like I said before, "scaling back" looks to be the big theme for 2009. But that's not really a fair answer to this month's Session, one that asks "what do you expect will excite you most?" Hard to truly muster excitement in the face of the Awesome Depression with a mortgage statement in one hand and a toddler in the other. That said, it's exciting to foresee a return to the simple, earthy, daresay mundane aspects of the beer experience. Reminding oneself that the act of making beer is only one step away from making bread. Homebrewing. Drinking locally, seasonally. Simple pints, well poured. This looks to be a year stepping outside the din of the auditorium of hardcore beer geekdom, buzzing with its one-off specialties from Calvados barrels, heraldry of its curious obscurities from far-off lands, under a blanket of noise from excessive hops, coffee, barrels, spices, and mystery. Once the tinnitus has finally cleared, we'll most certainly be wandering back in.

2009 will be a great year, but a great year tempered by uncomplicated lucidity. Here's hoping I can compose intelligent commentary in the absence of snifters of 22% alcohol, tobacco-infused Italian handcrafted ale. (Just in case, I have, behind a plate of glass marked "in case of emergency", a bottle of Isabelle Proximus. Just in case, like I said.) To what's next, cheers.

The Session is a blog carnival originated by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. This month's party is being hosted by Beerme at Beer and Firkins. For a summary of the Sessions thus far, check out Brookston's handy guide.



Blogger gail said...


Happy 2009, and many modest but satisfying toasts to you.


1:56 AM  
Blogger 5thape said...

Happy New Year. Growing up I have had my share of Korean corn tea, it's great chilled. I've thought about using them before but I guess DFH beat me to it!

4:13 PM  

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