Friday, March 4, 2011

The Session 49: Regular Beer

Stan over at Appellation Beer is hosting this month's session for the topic of regular beer.

"Regular beer" could mean quite a few different things. I think has 29 definitions for the word "regular", so we could easily jump down the rabbit hole. A beer I drink regularly, in my thinking, is by definition going to be a regular beer, so that's what I'll go with. When I think of these beers, they're frequently the same beers I think of when I talk about comfort beer: beers that you can find comfort in without being pummeled with strong and extreme flavors. Largely, this is the antithesis of craft beer in this country, since light lager has almost ruthlessly defined what "regular beer" that doesn't impose itself is. So "regular" is not a word many of us use to describe beer we're passionate about.  It's a word I hear most commonly used by people who dislike craft beer, and flavorful beer. It's a word used to describe something in contrast to craft beer. As in, "reg'lar beer". I recall sitting around campfires with Coors Light drinking friends who handed down the decision that oatmeal stout was, in fact, not regular beer and may in fact be hippy beer, or kind of weird. More recently I was at a local beer bar (it's not so much a beer bar as a music venue with about 10 taps or so of mostly decent beer although the shortest pours in town) when I saw a member of a band who was playing that night order a couple of Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout. To my amazement, since these were on the house, they poured two full pints of BBC, only to have both pints returned minutes later because the gentleman ordering them thought that they were gonna be "regular" and hence he did not like them. I watched in horror as they were dumped down the drain. It would have been easy for a beer snob to step in and say something, but that's a bit prickish, so I kept my thoughts to myself. In matters of personal taste, no one needs unsolicited advice. Inside, though, I felt a bit like Willem Dafoe in that famous scene from Platoon. It's instances like these that make it easy for some of us to write off "regular beer", but regular does not necessarily mean plain, ordinary, or bland just because that's what it means to light-lager drinkers. My regular, most commonly, is Summit Pale Ale. Something you can find almost everywhere in the Twin Cities. If you open Michael Jackson's Beer Companion or Great Beer Guide you can see Summit Extra Pale Ale right there, too. To my disappointment, it's occasionally panned by local beer geeks who take it for granted. It's not the most explosive and obnoxious beer, but its supremely sessionable quality is sandwiched between spicy floral hops in the tradition of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and crunchy, biscuity malt in a more Midwestern tradition. The result is something that's interesting and drinkable, but easy to overlook in the world of 8% abv double-imperial-everythings. Many a local beer geek was weaned on Summit Extra Pale Ale (just a "Summit" if you're ever ordering one anywhere in Minnesota) only to forget its pleasure. Not I. So let's hear not for crappy, middling, or bland beer, but regular beer.


  1. I am currently overwintering in SWFla. My home is in Salem, Ore. My son-in-law has a restaurant with 10 taps of rapidly rotating craft beer. I have had 100s of different craft beers in the last several years.

    Earlier this week I saw and purchased Summit 'Extra Pale Ale' at my local grocer. Craft pilsner is my favorite style of beer; but, I am always open to a new beer.

    I found the Summit to be most enjoyable. I would purchase it again.

  2. Glad you liked it, Jack. Summit's relatively new to the Florida market. Their Porter is well worth a try, if you see it, as well.