Lew Bryson

The State of Session Beer

It’s National Beer Day, which is a good time to look at the state of session beer. America’s biggest promoter of session beer is writer Lew Bryson, who has led the Session Beer Day initiative for the past five years.

Bryson says that session beer is making progress. Brewers are not only making more of them, but many of them are a financial success. He cites two examples in his home state of Pennsylvania: Yards Brewing Company, which offers a dry stout and a bitter at its taproom; and Yuengling Lager, which certainly qualifies as a session beer.

On the other hand, Bryson identifies two threats to session beer. One is “ABV creep”, a slow but persistent increase in the upper limit for what constitutes a session beer. The other threat is excessive hoppiness, the result of breweries jumping on the session IPA bandwagon.

Bryson hopes that brewmasters start looking beyond “5% IPA” and offer the kinds of lower-alcohol beers found in other beer-drinking countries.

April 7 is Session Beer Day

Session beer–which one can drink all evening and not get falling-down drunk–is a staple in British pubs. In the U.S., however, it has been overshadowed by “imperial” and high-gravity styles. For years, beer writer Lew Bryson has been trying to change that. He’s declared Saturday, April 7, Session Beer Day, and is encouraging breweries and beer bars across the country to celebrate it.

Why did Bryson choose April 7? That’s the anniversary of Little Repeal Day when, in 1933, 3.2% beer was re-legalized. For years afterward, many states classified beer of 3.2% or less as “non-intoxicating” and treated it differently than stronger beverages. Ohioans of a certain age can attest to that.

The Friday Mash (Bitter Cold Edition)

On this day in 1947, the coldest-ever temperature in North America–81 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit–was recorded in Snag, a village in Canada’s Yukon. That kind of cold creates serious problems, but keeping beer cold isn’t one of them.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Leominster, England, where Andre Marsh claims to own the world’s smallest off-license. It measures only 11 square meters (397 square feet).

If you’re going to New Orleans, here’s some good news: it’s okay to carry canned beer at Carnival. Abita Brewing will release its version next Monday, just in time for the parades.

The Boston Beer Company is rolling out a new seasonal, Alpine Spring. Sam Adams Noble Pils, last year’s spring seasonal, is being promoted to the year-round lineup.

Ginger Johnson, the owner of Women Enjoying Beer, has some advice for breweries: “Make the assumption that all women like flavor, and dash the notion that there’s beer for women.”

Hoping to avoid rush-hour chaos during this summer’s Olympic games, London officials are asking commuters to have an after-work beer before heading home.

As New Belgium Brewing Company hones in on a sites for its Eastern brewery, Lew Bryson makes the case for Philadelphia.

Finally, Pete and Debbie Gibson, pub landlords in Royton, England, had their establishment shut down New Year’s Eve by the Samuel Smith brewery. Their offense? Selling pints that were too full of beer.

The Friday Mash (Standard Time Edition)

On this day in 1883, American railroads replaced sun-based local time with four time zones, which survive to this day. Time zones have strange boundaries, which often divide states in two, because they once connected railroad stations in major cities. But wherever you live, it’s Ludwig Standard Time. Which means it’s time for a beer.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Chesterfield, England, where the local constabulary caught 19 wanted criminals with a sting operation that offered them a crate of free beer.

Our friend Lew Bryson, who began the “Breweries” series published by Stackpole Books, is now going on television. His new series, “American Beer Blogger,” is a half-hour series dedicated to all facets of the craft beer market.

Christian Moerlein was the first person inducted into Cincinnati’s Beer Barons’ Hall of Fame. It’s located at the brewery named for Moerlein, which will open on the riverfront in February.

Did you miss this year’s Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas? The annual celebration, which began 50 years ago, has grown into a ten-day, German-themed “Salute to Sausage.”

In Pnomh Penh, Cambodia, national brands Anchor and Angkor have been joined by newcomer, Kingdom Pilsner. Kingdom brews a Continental lager adapted to local tastes.

Session #58 has been announced. Its theme is, appropriately enough, A Christmas Carol–you get the idea–and it will be hosted by Phil Hardy of Beersay.

Finally, a Phoenix-based company has come out with a beer made for dogs. Bowser Beer is non-carbonated, contains no hops, and (sorry, Ludwig) is non-alcoholic.

What’s a Nanobrewery?

We’ve seen quite a few stories about microbreweries going over the 15,000-barrel mark which, until recently, was the Brewers Association’s ceiling for a micro. But we’re also seeing a proliferation of tiny microbreweries. Really tiny ones, which are called nanobreweries.

The BA hasn’t come up with a definition of a nanobrewery, but author Lew Bryson has taken a stab. In the latest edition of Pennsylvania Breweries, Bryson defines a nano as “a really tiny production brewery… I’ve set my own arbitrary top limit of a 100-gallon brew size, about 3 barrels.” Bryson also notes that almost all nanos are one- or two-person operations that are not their owner’s primary employment.

Being so small, these breweries fly under the proverbial radar. However, Bob Batz, Jr. of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has tracked down several nanos in Pennsylvania. He’s also located a nanobrewer in San Diego who tracks other nanos on his blog.

The Friday Mash (WWW Edition)

On this day in 1969, the first-ever computer-to-computer link was established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. The first message transmitted was supposed to be the word “login,” but the system crashed after the “l” and the “o” were transmitted.

And n…

I knew that would happen.

We begin with the frugal Dick Yuengling, Jr.. He drives a 2002 Ford Taurus–which he bought used–and refuses to spend money get it washed. But his cheapness has certainly helped his brewery survive.

The Lemp home and brewery in St. Louis, said to be inhabited by ghosts of deceased family members, is on the “Ten Scariest Places in America” list. What better place for a Halloween haunted house?

Martyn Cornell gives Michael Jackson credit for inventing beer styles. Before Jackson wrote The World Guide to Beer in 1977, nobody used the phrase “beer style.”

Don Russell, a/k/a Joe Sixpack, urges you to build a bar in your home. Your friends will thank you, and you’ll never have to worry about getting busted for DUI.

Craft beer earned a seat at the table at The French Laundry, a Michelin three-star restaurant in California’s wine country. Ashley Rouston, The Beer Wench, describes her once-in-a-lifetime experience there.

Finally, what do you look for in a beer glass? Lew Bryson offers his criteria, and comes to the defense of the much-maligned shaker pint.

Lew Bryson Hits the Road

With fourth edition of Lew Bryson’s Pennsylvania Breweries about to hit the stores, Lew’s going on another book tour. It kicks off September 23 at an establishment near his home and, over the next couple of months, will take him to book signings throughout the state.

There’s a Beer Festivals Calendar connection to Bryson’s book. Maryanne and Paul are the authors of Michigan Breweries, part of the same series. It’s published by Stackpole Books.

Cheers, Lew!

The Friday Mash (Know-Nothing Edition)

One hundred and sixty years ago today, Millard Fillmore became the 13th president of the United States. He was the last member of the Whig Party to hold that office; and, after leaving the White House, he affiliated himself with the Know-Nothing Party.

To make sure you don’t turn into a Know-Nothing, we present you with…The Mash!

We begin with the World Cup, which will be decided on Sunday. Budweiser might be the official beer of the competition, but other big brewers are tapping the vast African market.

You knew this was going to happen: Red White & Brewed, a reality TV show starring homebrewers. From what we can tell, the project is still in the fermentation stage, with RW&B’s producers negotiating with network and cable people.

A delegation from Flying Dog Ales went on a field trip to Stillpoint Farm, a sustainable hop farm in Maryland. Some of those hops might end up in Flying Dog’s brew.

A new trend in varietal beer? Houston’s St. Arnold Brewing Company announced it will brew a Moveable Yeast series, a quarterly release of its mainstay beers fermented with different yeasts.

Meet yet another intrepid beer traveler. He’s Ilan Klages-Mundt, who’s going around the world to study beer-brewing–when he’s not playing the cello or riding his bicycle through faraway lands.

Firing up the grill this weekend? The Oregonian’s John Foyston has you covered. He asked the experts what beers go best with barbecued food.

Finally, Lew Bryson pokes fun at homebrewers with a Mad Libs-style press release from a competition.

Lew Bryson: On the Road in Pennsylvania

It’s hard to believe, but Lew Bryson is working on a fourth edition of his book, Pennsylvania Breweries. The latest lap of his travels began in Pittsburgh, where he finally got in a visit to the Penn Brewery, went more or less up I-79 to Erie, and homeward from there with a stop at Straub Brewery’s famous Eternal Tap (he’s got a photo of it!.

Hey, glad you got back safely, Lew.

Two More For the Road

Two intrepid bloggers share their holiday beer travels with the world:

The Carbondale Craft Beer Examiner’s Marika Josephson spent Christmas week beer traveling in The San Diego area. The result? A series of articles on the Blind Lady Ale House, the Green Flash Brewing Company, and the Port Brewing Company.

On the other side of the country, Lew Bryson went on his annual busman’s holiday, a/k/a “The Hunt,” making a whirlwind trip to New Jersey. Bryson and his traveling companion, Les Gibbs, visited five establishments–and because man doesn’t live by beer alone–also put in an appearance at Calandra’s Bakery in Newark.

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