A Beer at Lunch? Yes, Please
After months of looking out the window by my desk at grass that was still showing tints of green, snow has finally arrived to Vermont (in the second week of February!). Of course, this means everyone at the ski resorts is excited as business will pick up, and skiers and snowboarders are equally stoked to find fresh powder.
A shot of some of the BYO crew snowshoeing at a local mountain last winter for our annual "snow day."
Of course, nothing beats a ski day, except maybe warming up half way through to get some lunch and a beer. Ahh, that’s where I was going with this — the lunchtime beer. Don’t get me wrong, I love double IPAs, imperial stouts, and 7.9 ABV this and 8.5 ABV that as much as the next guy, but when it comes to getting a mid-day beer or two before returning to the slopes (or work) I’d rather avoid the nudging desire to take a nap. Enter one of the newest trends in craft beer — session beers. Calling low-ABV beers “new” is, of course, ridiculous. British brewers have been crafting beers almost exclusively below 5% ABV for generations, as have brewers in almost every other country. But at some point a decade or two ago, American craft brewers — always ones to push the envelope — all starting coming out with bigger and bigger beers and it became difficult to find a brew that was full of flavor but under 5% ABV.
Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy the midday beer, that has changed over the last few years. It’s important to keep in mind that lower alcohol does not have to mean lower flavor, and that is one of the main points in the cover story “5 Easy Drinkers — Brewing Award-Winning Session Beers” of the March-April Brew Your Own written by Gordon Strong. This issue should be hitting subscriber mailboxes and newsstand shelves any day now, if you haven’t received yours already. If you are like me and want to enjoy a beer or two while you take a break from shoveling your driveway, or as you talk business with co-workers, and then get back to work, it’s definitely worth checking out. In addition to providing his own award-winning recipe for a blonde ale, Gordon also pulled together four other homebrewers who have won homebrew competitions with session beers to get their advice (and recipes!). These other winning styles include Irish stout, dark mild, Kölsch, and light American lager. (No session IPA, you ask? Well, we hit that already in Steve Bader’s Session IPA Clones from the November 2014 BYO).
Speaking of the March-April issue, we’ve got a lot of other great stories worth reading too. As a Vermonter, I am naturally drawn to Yannick Laplante’s feature story on brewing beer with maple syrup — in fact I loved the idea so much, I wrote a Tips from the Pros column rounding up more tips on brewing with maple from the brewers at Peak Organic (Portland, ME), Argyle Brewing (Greenwich, NY), and Third Street Brewhouse (Cold Springs, MN). You don’t have to be in New England, the Upper Midwest, or Canada to appreciate maple syrup, and you don’t have to live here to brew with it either. Just head to the store and find some real maple syrup and have fun experimenting with the techniques outlined.
This new issue is also Josh Weikert's debute as our new Replicator columnist. Josh has written a number of feature articles for us over the past two years, including his very popular premier article in BYO on brewing with induction heat. For his first Replicator column, Josh spoke with the folks at Eddyline Brewing, in Buena Vista, Colorado about their River Runners Pale Ale (which won a gold medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival). That clone recipe sounds amazing, and I'm looking forward to trying it! Josh is filling the large shoes left by Marc Martin, who had been tracking down brewers and cloning beers from around the United States for the past decade. From everyone at BYO, we've wished Marc the best of luck with the many professional opportunities he's pursuing and are sorry to see him go, but we're also really excited to have Josh on board!
One other thing definitely worth mentioning is that we just started accepting entries into the 2016 BYO Label Contest! Check out this link for all the details. It’s free, minus the cost of the stamp to send them, and there are always hundreds of dollars worth of great homebrewing prizes up for grabs from our sponsors. Don’t miss out!