The news that the Public House Brewing Company would be in Rolla, Missouri, was enough to pique my interest. That area's been a beery dead zone for a while, even as little breweries popped up in a few of the state's farther rural reaches. Good barbecue, yes. Good beer? No.
But I became downright thirsty when I visited the website and read these words:
[W]e are taking a different approach to the beers we choose to make, compared to other craft breweries in America. Over the past several years, there has been an ever growing trend to pack more flavor and more ingredients into beers. With the inventions of imperial beers, double/triple IPAs, big Belgians, etc. we have decided to get back to our roots."A new craft brewery dedicated to session beers?" I thought. "Surely they deserve a bit of attention." So I wrote to the two Joshes in charge, longtime friends who are 50/50 partners in this adventure.* Josh Goodridge told me he handles the finance and marketing side, while Josh Stacy brews and manages day-to-day affairs.
Now don't get us wrong we have enjoyed watching brewers around the world push the envelope. ... Lately however, we have had just as good a time sitting around the table with friends, hours on end, drinking our favorite session beers. The latter is what we hope to invoke in these first of many beers.
Here are a few more things Goodridge wanted to say:
The whole session beer approach came from a lot of intensive beer research (i.e. drinking). It's fairly obvious to most beer enthusiasts that if you look back over the last 10-15 years, the American craft beer industry has done what most American industries with roots in other countries tend to do. They push the envelope to be the biggest, the best, the most flavorful, the most exotic, etc. ... And as much as I love so many of these high gravity concoctions being dreamt up by so many great brewers, I want to be able to walk and talk when the session is over, and it's a little difficult to do that when so many of these beers pack such a wallop.I think that's the most I've ever quoted anyone in a blog post. Can't help it if I just like what the man has to say.
From a technical standpoint, I also believe that it's actually harder to make a great tasting lower gravity/lower alcohol beer. When you make a really big beer and you pile on the ingredients, they can do a great job of covering up imperfections in the beer. When you have a simple beer, brewed to style (with a little of our own flair thrown in) it has to be done right or the person drinking that beer is going to know that something is wrong. So we take a lot of pride in being able to produce great tasting beers that don't rely on over-the-top hop additions or twelve different kinds of grain or exotic ingredients.
This idea goes hand in hand with the type of atmosphere we're trying to create in the pub. We believe we've created a unique place that patrons can come to, enjoy a delicious hand-crafted ale, learn about brewing and expand their beer knowledge, and most importantly have a great conversation with our staff or other patrons. That's what a session is all about and it is truly one of life's greatest pleasures.
I do believe that session beers will make a comeback in this country. Like anything, it will eventually revert to the mean. People will always push the envelope and I applaud that. But if everyone is pushing the envelope, after a while I think it loses a little of its luster and people realize they just want to drink a few beers with their friends and not feel so heavy afterwards.
Don't get me wrong--we intend to have some fun with bigger beers like barleywines, imperial beers, winter warmers, etc. After all, that's part of the joy and fun of brewing and drinking craft beer. But most importantly, we want to offer our patrons great beer and a great place to have a session.
The Public House's main stable of beers will begin as a Kolsch, Stout and American Pale Ale in the range of 4.5 to 4.8 percent strength. Plus there is a Mild of about 2.5 percent--and that's downright extreme in some circles. "It's my personal favorite of all the beers," Goodridge said. "I drink one and immediately have to have another. It's amazingly quaffable. It's a thirst quencher. I could talk about it all day." I believe him.
Goodridge also told me the work is about 95 percent done, and they should be ready to open around Christmas. As luck would have it, that's about when I'll be passing through. Might even get to take a few pretty pictures for you.
*CORRECTED to make clear that they are 50/50 partners.