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Monday, June 30, 2008

Super Small Beers

A British beer blogger has a post up about an English brown ale that weighs in at 2.8% alcohol:
If you're American, you'd probably laugh it out of town. I doubt they send much - if any - across the Atlantic. Instead, the beer cowers in brown, half litre bottles on the shelves of Tesco stores in Britain. It coyly suggests on its label that it be used for cooking. There's even a recipe for beef stew on the back. It's as if the little chap doesn't want you to drink him.
It appears that the beer in question, Mann's, is a throwback. In the comments to the post, a guy named Paul notes "When we had our beer shop we used to sell a reasonable amount of Mann's brown. I don't ever remember a customer for it being under 60." That, and the suggestion that it's more fit for stew than mug, hint at its status there.

Nevertheless, there is a long and loving history of small beers, going back to the time when they were consumed in greater quantity and at what we might now consider off hours. In our mania for extremes, we extend not even scorn for these kinds of beers now--most craft beer drinkers probably believe that beer under 4% alcohol was made to serve scorn-deserving niches (light beer, non-alcoholic beer).

Well, as a sometimes brewer and all-around beer appreciator, I will go on record as a fan of the little beers. They're the quadruple salchow of brewing--very hard to pull off, so much so that few even bother. But when done properly, they reveal flavors concealed at higher octane. Here in Beervana, we so eschew anything with the macro taint that even our session ales are 5.5%. But in the world of extremes--which make Beervana's heart sing--super small beers are something to consider.

A general call to Oregon brewers: what about trying to knock off our socks with one hand tied behind your back? Something around three percent, style of your choice. Betcha can't.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention. On Friday I'm going to be reviewing another tiny beer that has somehow survived from years gone by: Harvey's Nut Brown Ale. I've got one very lovely 275ml bottle from the brewery and it's only 3.0%abv! I expect to stay sober!