A recent investigation of Full Sail Brewing Company’s Session Premium Lager, has lead to a closer examination of the retro-classic movement in the beer world. Session is what could be called a faux-retro-classic brand, with snub nose bottles complete with bottlecaps with printing underneath (it is either rock, paper or scissors here). All of this fine attention to package details it seems is an attempt to imitate real retro-classics such as Pabst Blue Ribbon or Ballantine Ale. PBR if you have never noticed, has playing card symbols underneath their bottlecaps, while Ballantine Ale has pictoglyphics. The snub nose bottle goes even a little further retro. Back to the late 50’s, when regional brewers chose this squat, space saving package for bottled beer. I am old enough to remember having my first Yuengling porter in this kind of bottle.
Not to sound too much like a voodoo doctor from Vienna, but isn’t the retro-classic movement a kind of consumer comfort zone in troubled times? This marketing technique can be useful for all kinds of products, from clothing to food to motorcycles to tools to electronics… you name it. The thing about retro-classic it is not just nostalgia for the past, but for memories that never really existed.
From what I have read, the people at Full Sail take Session’s working man ethic seriously, to the point that it is considered protocol to drink this beer straight from the bottle. But of course the bottle being eleven ounces rather than the standard twelve, reminds us that this is faux-retro.
The craft beer world has its own forms of New Speak. Take for example this expression: session. This is some polite jive thought up by the beer intelligentsia to not use words such as: pounder or slammer. A good example of this: you buy a couple of cases of beer at a drive-thru and the clerks says I see you guys are gonna pound a few! For those who want to elevate beer to the planet of the well-heeled, this would be considered uncouth.
Is class warfare going to break out over beer you ask. Naw, no matter how many Thomas Hardy Ales, Sam Adams Utopias, etc… beer will always be considered by those who know (whoever they are) to be on a lower rung of the cultural ladder, below wine and carefully aged spirits. Which is for the best. At least for The Beer Doctor. I was always attracted to beer because it is the people’s drink. Grape juice only drinkers will never know the restorative power of malt.
Speaking of malt, I came across a beer from Russia called Baltika 9 extra lager. This is what should be called malt liquor, because it was brewed with all malt, plus malt syrup, I guess for an extra fermentable. Although it makes no claim to be malt liquor, in fact, despite the Extra Lager in the name, it claims to be ale. This has much to do with taxes than proper identification of style.
Talk about bang for the buck! Baltika 9 Extra Lager, is 8%abv and sells for $2.99 in a fifty ounce plastic bottle. Now that is a people’s beer.
Thank you. The Beer Doctorst_thomas_151.jpghomer.jpg


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