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August, the Session Beer month

A couple of months ago we in the Spanish beer blogging community started our version of "The Sessions" called "La Ronda". Last month's was really interesting (if you read Spanish, you should go and check it out here). Anyway, the conclusion we arrived after that Ronda was that we all like beer (actually, that was well known long before). But it turns out that, though it might not seem so, we don't drink just any kind of beer in any kind of place or situation, there are some beers that most of us prefer to drink when we are alone and with time, and others we prefer when we are with friends and getting noisier as the glass empty to be filled again to be once again emptied.

This is the ideal environment for the session beers, which are those that we can drink in more or less considerable quantities with more or less controllable and tolerable consequences the day after. In their honour, we have decided to declare this month, August 2008, International Session Beer month.

There are several reasons for this. First, the above mentioned conclusions from the Ronda. Second, most of us live in the Northern Hemisphere where now is summer and session beers are great for this season. And third and most important, is that these beers are way too under appreciated. Yes, the Westvleteren of this world might get all the awards and the highest possible ratings at sites like Ratebeer; and yes, they are beers of unarguable quality and complexity, these are the kind of beers we like to drink when alone, enjoying every sip. Now, can you imagine having pint after pint of one of them with friends at a beer garden or a pub? No, because after a couple you would en up absolutely spannered, and you will regret it even more the day after. Not to mention the damage done to our finances.

It is in situations like those where we prefer the humble session beer, which unfortunately bears the cross of being associated with the extremely mediocre eurolagers of the big brands. However, a true session beer doesn't have to be that insipid, characterless swill, expended at Arctic temperatures. A good session beer, despite its low ABV, welcomes us with mild flavours that still have plenty of character, it is of a light body and has a short finish. It is a beer that before even finishing the first glass makes us think about ordering another one, after which it takes a secondary role, leaving the lead to the moment we are spending with people we like. The only moment when it will demand our attention again is when our glasses are empty (that of course, unless you happen to be at one of those hospody where pivo comes without having been ordered). Apart from that, the session beer will make the meeting more fun, and maybe even longer.

I've read somewhere that a brew master really shows his or her craft when he or she is able to brew a quality session beer. I'm so lucky then to be living in Prague, Czechs are masters when it comes to good session beers, there is so much and so good to choose from. That is why this month I will be talking only about this kind of beers, the best to drink with friends.

Na Zdraví!