The Session #66: The One Beer to Rule Them All

The SessionHard to believe that it’s the first Friday of August already, but that means for us bloggers that it’s time for another round of The Session—a collaborative beer blogging day hosted by a blogger who picks the topic or theme which we all will write about. (The other hosting duty involves aggregating all the participating Session posts into a single “meta-post” linking to them all.)

This month, Craig Gravina of Drink Drank has the hosting honors, and he’s come up with a delightfully Tolkien-esque theme for the month: The One Beer to Rule Them All.

What if you were to design the perfect brew—a Tolkien-esque One Beer to Rule Them All. The perfect beer for you, personally. Would it be hoppy and dark or strong and light? Is it augmented with exotic ingredients or traditionally crafted? Would your One Beer be a historic recreation or something never before dreamt of? The sky is the limit on this one.

This exercise isn’t about making sure you’ve checked all the right boxes for the BJCP or some homebrew competition. This Session is all about imagining the possibilities—no matter how ridiculous! Feel free to create a recipe, right down to the alpha acid in your hops or conjure up a review just like you’d do for any other beer. However you want to come at this, it’s your ultimate beer, your One Beer to Rule Them All!

I can think of a couple of approaches to take towards this topic; one would be of course to attempt to develop what I consider the ultimate, perhaps prototypical, “beer” that has harmonious elements of everything I look for in a beer and would never get tired of drinking. In my mind this is something akin to what Orval does, and what The Ale Apothecary is developing out in the mountain foothills of Bend.

Of course the challenge then is, how do I settle on just one beer? I have favorites and preferences in styles and drinking beer is definitely seasonally influenced—heavier, darker beers in the colder months and lighter, crisper beers in the warmer months (generally speaking). Among styles I consider favorites are Barleywines, pumpkin beers, Oktoberfests/Märzens, Altbiers, Doppelbocks, light-colored sours, smoked beers, and Saisons/farmhouse ales. Kind of an eclectic mix!

The other approach, of course, is to take the “One Ring to Rule Them All” angle and to conjure up the idea of a “One Beer” as it would apply to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth, which could be a lot of fun! In fact a quick net search brings up a few neat links:

After thinking about it, I noticed a nice dovetail with some of my favorite styles I mentioned above, and I think I can work up a concept:

A seasonally-influenced farmhouse-style ale, Saison-like. It’s rustic, with a touch of smoke depending on the variances of the kilning, and in addition to hops may well contain additional herbs and perhaps spices. In the fall it will be touched with pumpkin (of course). It will be strong, in the 5-7% range, and perhaps for special occasions some will be laid down to age in barrels to acquire some additional characteristics.

A beer that would great to drink as a “One Beer” whether it’s here or in Middle Earth.

And yes, I’m already dreaming up some homebrew recipes for this.