The Original Session Beer

Yeah, it has been a minute since I’ve put a pen to paper.  Hell, it has been some time since anyone from POM has struck the keyboard sending signals towards the Interweb’s blog space.  Moving will do that to ya.  Negotiating the sale of one abode, bidding on a new dwelling worthy to call home for the family that I love, and moving both with professionals (Move-tastic was wonderful by the way) & separately with my brother and the storage unit…let’s just say, it was exhausting.  But lucky for all of us, God invented beer.  Enough of the chitchat, let’s get down to business…

The term “session ale” has been thrown around carelessly for a few years now.  While the India Pale Ale craze continues, bursting with dank aromas ranging from citrus to herbal to pine, the clever craft breweries with savvy marketing skills concocted the session IPA (disclaimer alert…I hate this made up monstrosity of a style).  American IPAs by BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) guidelines range from 5.5-7.5% ABV.  The entry level of these parameters are rare though.  American pale ales can reach 6.2% so why wouldn’t an American IPA weigh in at 6.5-7%?  After all, we live by the motto of “Go Big Or Go Home,” right?  Well, these delectable craft brews can add up quickly, especially if you are behind the wheel.  Solution?…Create the same experience at a lower alcohol by volume to avoid ringing your bell.  In my opinion, nearly everything brewed in this subgenre tastes like (although I’ve never tasted it firsthand) bong water.  Bright bouquets but frail, thin bodies, yields a failed experiment.  So where are we to turn when seeking something with flavor but around/below 5%…?

The original session beer with hop forward characteristics is a pilsner.  I’m not talking about the light brews that Miller/Bud are peddling.  I’m referring to the German and Czech lagers that exude noble hop qualities.  A lesson to everyone is that not all “hoppy” offerings need to garner the citrus/herbal/pine traits that we’ve grown accustomed to with APAs/IPAs.  Pilsners are “hoppy” too, but with a more subtle, floral nose.  You may even know someone who traditionally detests “hoppy” beers but doesn’t realize they in fact quite love “hoppy” beers.  It is all of a matter of getting to know beer styles in general and outside of homebrewers, not everybody is willing to put in the time to learn it all, and that is okay.

Enough of the soapbox and onto the beer.  I was friended on Untappd by Paul from Maplewood Brewing Company some time ago.  I have a significant number of check-ins which is likely why he pegged me in the first place.  Either way I appreciate how he keeps up with (in my opinion) the best app on the planet while marketing himself appropriately but also enjoying other craft brewery beverages and providing constructive (always positive and rating free) feedback.  I met some of the folks from the brewery a couple years back at a wonderful beer tasting hosted by none other than Chicago’s Union Station.  It was shortly after their flagship APA, The Charlatan took flight.  The brew has been somewhat inconsistent since I’ve had it but on the right batch, it is wonderful.  But that isn’t what we’re here to discuss on this post…

Pulaski Pils by Maplewood Brewing Company is a Na Zdrowie to all things Chicago and Polish.  Technically a German style pilsner, it portrays a noble, floral aroma and drinks effortlessly.  That scent comes from the dry hop doses of Santiam (cross breed of two very common German varieties:  Tettnanger & Hallertauer Mittelfrüh alongside America’s favorite, Cascade).  This is a hoppy but not overly bitter beer, as typically illustrated with American IPAs.  There is a difference between hoppy and bitter.  Average consumers use these descriptors synonymously and that is incorrect, in my opinion.  A given craft brew can be hoppy but not bitter and vice versa.  Anyways, enough of my rant.  Keep Maplewood Brewing in your rotation this upcoming Chicago Summer season.  I’m certain they’ll have something in their arsenal that will float your boat.