If language was the preserve of pedants we’d all be talking some bizarre olde worlde stuff from the Middle Ages. I understand that it develops, adapts, better serves, and modernises – and I understand to what Stormzy is referring most of the time (I’m quite street, you see).
But I’ll never speak like anybody that appears on Love Island. That version of language is trend-obsessed nonsense that meant nothing ten years ago and will mean nothing in another ten. It’s tribal and is used by insecure people to show they are relevant and modern.
I know beer styles morph with the times; an IPA is not now only herbal, grassy, or minty – or like drinking pond water from a mouldy slipper with some – now it can also be packed with citrus aroma and flavour. The terms to describe styles should also evolve; when the modern IPA was made at double the strength we called it a double IPA.
Imperial, export, sour, oak-aged, dubbel, saison, lambic, gose, juice, stout, mild; all terms which mean something, that make sense with a little explanation, and tell you about the beer. If you understand these terms you’ll know that you could never have a juice stout or an imperial mild (I can almost hear the brains of hipster microbrewers asking “or could you?”). So why is the term ‘session’ describing intensely bitter beer above 5% ABV?
Firstly, anyone built any slighter than an Irish Lions prop can’t have a session on a beer of more than 5% ABV. Let’s assume four pints of beer does not constitute a ‘session’ as this is typical intake for a moderate drinker on a night out. If I – a 6’1” seasoned drinker – spout utter drivel before falling asleep fully-clothed after five pints of 5.2% beer, then to whom does the term apply? Surely only those built like prize bulls.
Secondly, a beer of this kind should surely be easy-drinking. The trend for bitter hops means guzzling a single pint of most modern ‘session’ beers is an arduous challenge. They’re often unbalanced and have nothing smoothing the harshness – they are way too punchy for a session. They should be called ‘prolonged assault’ beer.
Finally, how irresponsible is it to suggest anyone drink more than four pints of 5.6% beer? If you feel properly woozy after three do you plough on to prove that you’re a real man? Do you knacker your liver to fulfil the brief issued by the brewery? Not me, I’ll go home to watch Newsnight, or order a Coke.
‘Session’ doesn’t mean low ABV or easy-drinking anymore, the only two things it really should mean. Have too many sessions on these beers and you won’t live long enough to find out what the next meaningless beer term is. If it really had a place in beer terminology then we’d have been drinking Heineken Session Lager, Guinness Session Stout and Hoegaarden Session Wit.
I don’t want to be salty but we should make these waste cadets and total melts pie the dodgy lingo and stop muggin’ us off. Let’s crack on with the graftin’ and get back to ‘session’ meaning, like, a 3.5% pale, you know what I mean?