Beer, a nice drop and a long drink, generally. There are exceptions, like barley wine, imperial stouts and massive double IPAs, but on the whole beer is drunk in longer measures. In our fine and soon to be proudly independent1 island most beer is drunk in the fantastically traditional measure that is the imperial pint2. It's a cultural thing that has incredible resilience3.
I really like beers with a bit more about them. I believe a really good IPA has to be in the 6% region, or there or there about. This of course creates a few problems for people who sup beer all night long in pints. Indeed I've been asked many times if I can produce an "Azimuth Light"4
We've wrestled with this for a while. You see a beer at lets say 3.6% should never, in my view, have the letters IPA next to the name. I mean, just look at Green King and thier thing. No. Never. Brewing beer and calling at IPA at that strength only encourages the wider general beer drinking public to believe in that sort of nonsense.
I believe, with a fair degree of conviction that beer brewed, fermented and dry hopped at higher ABVs make for much more delicious beers. There are quire a few good scientific reasoins why this is probably the case.5
We wanted to have a go at a lower ABV beer, that we could still call an IPA. We thought about the hop rates, appropriate use of modified malt to retain some mouthfeel and body to the beer. We thought very carefully about dry hopping and maturation techniques so as to blast the sense of that general IPA ethos.
We've done it, we've made that very beer. We like it and we are sending it out to various places all over the country.
Can a 4.8% beer ever really be a session beer? Well, I drink beers much stronger than that during a session, and I know a few more who do. I'm sure there will be some who will disagree, but there you go, it's still more "sessionable" than Azimuth.....
Oh, and I did a video.
Long Drop Constant from Hardknott Brewery on Vimeo.
Are their still people who don't get why it is called "Long Drop"? Oh come on!!
1For the avoidance of doubt, yes I am being sarcastic.
2No, I haven't applied the closing </sarc> tag yet
3</sarc>yes, I do think it truly does have serious cultural inertia. Not that much of a great thing in my view.
4I kid you not.....
5Way back in my early days of brewing a brewing type from a significantly larger brewery came to the pub and we chatted about beers. As is oft the case, I started to chat about how much I liked a beer with a bit more poke. I forget his name or which brewery, and for that matter I'm fairly sure he had a fair bit of experience in several different breweries. He explained that in tasting panel tests a beer brewed and fermented at a much stronger gravity will be preferred by drinkers when cut back to a lower strength when compared with a beer brewed at target gravity.
The way the yeast works at higher gravities, the way the hop compounds are biologically processed by the yeast, the way the alcohol solution subsequently acts as a solvent on dry hopping all change the flavour profile of the finished beer.