Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Machete Beer Project.

In Costa Rica there is no spring. We're on the tail-end of summer and expecting winter to begin any day now. Among the ticos, summer is the dry season and winter is the wet season and that's all. Unless you are from the North, and you have known real, slippery, debilitating winters in your life, and in that case the wet season is just like summer with added showers every afternoon.

Also: Why use a lawnmower when you can use a machete? And, why drink a lawnmower beer when you can drink a machete beer?

Sorry. Let's start over. From scratch. In Boston a couple of weeks ago there was something called Slowfest. Imagine a fest devoted to craft beers of less than 4.5% abv. Sounds beautiful. Too good to be true, right? Well, right. Too few breweries had products that law in alcohol, so they adjusted the standard to less than 5%, according to Lew Bryson. Still, their hearts are in the right spot.

One of the forces behind that event was Chris Lohring of Tremont Brewery in Boston. He's just launched a brand called Notch American Session Ales. If you're in the Boston area you might find them on draft in certain places. All of them will be 4.5% strength or less. (Meanwhile, if you can, you really ought to track down the April issue of Beer Advocate for Lohring's editorial, "It's Time for Session Beer.")

In the past I've already told you about Bryson's Session Beer Project. Now I'm telling you again. And I'll also tell you that Ken Weaver at RateBeer's Hop Press site has been getting involved, featuring craft beers that meet the session standard.

Now: Back to Costa Rica and all the other countries that beer forgot, awash in bland, quasi-monopolistically manufactured lagers — and never forget that most of the world's drinkers still live in such places, and that even you, Mr. or Ms. Discerning Aficionado, drink them when on vacation. Because you're on vacation and it's hot. And we make excuses, like "it's perfect for the climate," when we should know better. Really, we should. Because we've had plenty of thirst-quenching beers that also happen to have great character, and naturally those are among our favorite beers of all time. (If I saw a man walking down the street with a Taras Boulba right now, I might kill him for it.)

Craft breweries are popping up in places like this, usually with mixed success. Many come, and many go. It just strikes me that success would be more likely if such breweries offered a product that met Bryson's definition, which is as good as you'll find: 4.5% strength or less, flavorful, balanced, conducive to conversation, and reasonably priced.

I keep thinking a beer like that would look mighty good, sitting here, sweating all over this table. Then I might use that moisture to polish off this here grass-stained machete.

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