The Session #25 - At lagerheads
A few months ago, the little kerfuffle over the increasingly curious nature of The Session topics came to a bit of a head when Jay posted his "open letter" (like there's any other kind on teh internets), wondering aloud whether some fuzzy barriers needed to be put into place in reining in the subject matter that's taken up each month in this carnival. As someone who gleefully participated in subverting what might be considered an arguably staid (and while we're being honest here, not terribly exciting for folks like myself to read) topic set, I didn't feel it was necessary to chime in regarding what ought to be a "proper" Session question. (I sort of figured that the thirty-one people who opted to respond to my hosting was proof enough that there's room for questions that were a little on the silly side. And I'd be lying if I didn't recognize how obnoxious I was being at the time.)
So the people of the brewblogosphere all lined up like good little ducks and started back on the track of ticking off styles like we're at some BJCP rally. Tripels marked the ostensible return to normalcy, a topic that I played along with mostly nicely. Fine. Always game for a good challenge. But now this. The description might have made more sense if it read like this:
Hey, people. In direct opposition to logic and in the presence of a global economic collapse that's sent most of us into a Stone Age level of hoarding panic, I'd like to ask you all to take some of that very hard earned money of yours and dish it out on swill. That's right. I'd like you to forgo one of the basic foundational reasons why you bother to write about beer (that being the desire to excite and encourage people to explore the world of beer that exists beyond said swill), take some money that could have gone to feeding your child, or fending off medical debts, or keeping the bank from ripping away the roof from over your head, or - oh, who am I kidding? - money that could have to gone buying some really good beer, and give it right back to the same industry against which you waste valuable Boing Boing Gadgets-reading time mustering opposition, and then allow me to sit back and chuckle while you throw yourself through a literary blender trying to come up with something readably interesting to say about how - let's admit it, shall we? - you felt you were on the sick-n-wrong end of a urine specimen test gone horribly awry.
Of course, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration. But the truth is, the division between what many of us would lump into the fancypants beer pile versus mass-produced garbage is almost as linear as the division of the yeasts used to ferment the finished products. Around here (and please note that this whole rant is epicentered on a small stub of land poking precariously into the Pacific Ocean on the western coast of the United States), the roots of the problem are fairly clear - Industrial Revolution brewing practices allowed for mass market, roundly acceptable tasting lager beers that stormed easily back into the waiting and weak palates of the post-Prohibition age. It was only through cultish geekiness that ales made their way back onto the market, and with them, the badge of "craft" honor, the promise of "handmade" beers, made by people who "care", not like some insulting, artificial, machined nonsense wrought by assembly line machines. And it's a badge that ale has somewhat unfairly worn throughout this whole beer renaissance we're currently enjoying, one that has the unfortunate side effect of handicapping high quality lager beers' entries into the fray, and leaving us thirsty folks with a deeply divided selection. There are obvious exceptions: A handful of European imports manage to maintain a "premium" status, and some braver-than-I small breweries like Moonlight embrace the intricacies of cold-fermentation as part of their core mission. But in its current incarnation, the difference between which finger you stick out while hoisting a beer can still be split between the family lines. So while our host this month is looking for "lager love", even specifying "pilsners, light lagers, helleses" - beers that I would trade all the Anchor Steam (kind of a lager!) in the world for, were I on the proper continent - it's the kind of love that a beer geek like me, stuck out here on the edge of the Pacific Plate as I am, finds rather difficult to muster.
To the task at hand: Not to come off like a complete spoilsport, I looked around to see if there were any available subjects, but as it turns out, there aren't lagers of any sort to be found in our fridge, or our cellar, or floating in the melted ice of the old keg bucket in the garden, the most recent treasures to be enjoyed from abroad long gone. The nearest relative in the vicinity is a carboy of homebrewed imperial pilsner chortling dutifully away in the fridge in the garage, but that seems like exactly what our host is asking us to ignore for the time being: a lager in most obtuse sense, brashly American and odd and begging for attention and flirting with all the hallmarks of the extremitude that often go hand-in-hand with the nu-craft scene. I wonder, then, if this can even be counted as a true Session post (see, there's that subversive streak again), as there's no tasting notes to comment on here. No cheap cans of beer around to stage for perverse portrait photos, no desire to crack open my wallet to bring some into the house, just some silly little metal frame built for shoving it up some poor poultry's ass.
In other news, my two-year-old has recently taken up the hobby of digital photography (hence the leading image in this post). I only mention this as in case someone's thinking of making the April topic "Lite and lo-carb beers: How freaking awesome are they or what?!" or some such crap, I'll be posting a gallery of her recent work in silent protest.
The Session is a blog carnival originated by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. This month's party is being hosted by The Beer Nut. For a summary of the Sessions thus far, check out Brookston's handy guide. You can also follow folks' entries on twitter by searching for posts marked with the #thesession hashtag.
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