Something about the holidays seems to encourage food and beverage makers to infuse so-called holiday tastes where they have no right being present. I personally don’t ever want my beer to taste like egg nog or sugar plums, but I will admit to wanting a stronger, darker beer as the weather gets colder and visits with relatives become more frequent. Enter a new beer from the tiny Oregon microbrewery Full Sail called Session Black. A “session” beer is so named because it’s deemed one a thirsty person can drink multiples of without feeling too full or saturated (as opposed to a Cranberry Spiced Pumpkin Ale.)Session Black manages to be easy drinking like a lager, but has a lot of the flavor profile you might find in a stout (roasty-toasty, chocolate and coffee notes.) So it manages to have wonderful richness and a full body without making you feel like you just ate an entire loaf of lard bread. And it comes in these sharply designed little grenade-sized brown bottles, which make it feel totally and erroneously innocuous to knock back half a dozen in a sitting. At least, uh, that’s what someone told me. Happy Holidays.
Not too long ago, we took an intro class in making homebrew at Bitter & Esters. It was fun and informative! Plus, drinking. We decided to take it to the next level, so this past Saturday afternoon was spent actually making beer with guidance from Bitter & Esters co-owner and brew guru, Doug Amport. That’s Doug, below. He knows his stuff.After some debate, we decided to try for an Oktoberfest-style lager. Right off the bat, I learned two things worth sharing here: first, calling it an “Oktoberfest” beer is a marketing gimmick. This coppery and delicious beverage is correctly called a “märzen,” which has its origins back in good ole 16th century Bavaria. The term “märzen” (or March, in German) is a remnant from a time when the village brewers last beers were made in March and then stored until late summer or fall. That’s why they are March beers, or Märzenbier, if you want to be a pain in the ass.Regardless, the whole “Oktoberfest beer” concept is a recent development, and so named as the release of the beer coincides with the famous autumn beerfest in Munich. Interesting AND thirst-quenching. Second factoid: the word lager is not just a noun, but a verb. The root word “lagern” is German in origin (notice a trend?) which means to store. “To lager,” or lagering, is essentially cold storage and fermenting of beer over a longer time period: usually 4-6 weeks. So although we made beer on Saturday, it’s chillin’ in a cold storage carboy until December 27th. Next up: bottling party!