The Session Curve

Our pints of mild on Saturday got us thinking about the experience of drinking a given beer over the course of a session which helped us understand what the term ‘session beer’ means to us.

So, this chart is an attempt to illustrate the pleasure we gain from a selection of beers over the course of an arbitrarily selected six drink session (about the upper end of what we ever drink — a ‘big one’ by our standards) indicated on the bottom axis.

The session beer curve illustrated in a chart.

It’s a bit of a jumble but:

  1. St Austell Black Prince, after about four pints, seems the finest beer in the world, after an underwhelming start, and we could keep drinking it forever.
  2. Fuller’s London Pride is rarely exciting but maintains its appeal throughout a session — another definition of balanced?
  3. St Austell Proper Job is a great beer — one we’re always delighted to find — but not one we like to drink more than about three pints of. It fails as a session beer because it is too intensely hoppy and just a touch too strong for us — the feeling that we ought to call it a day, the surprisingly wobbly walk to the bar, comes a little too soon.

8 thoughts on “The Session Curve”

  1. 2 is the most I can have of any pint before I need a change. I mix it up every session which can leave it hard to judge taste wise as it is clearly going to be effected by whats been in my mouth previously. Makes it all the more exciting even when I try something I drink regularly.

  2. Harvey’s Mild is a great session beer (always stick to it when I visit the Royal Oak in Borough), but my stand-by tends to be Young’s ordinary. A lovely brown bitter that really goes the distance.

    1. to be fair, i’m not sure I’ve managed a whole night on Mild at the Oak as it inevitably runs out by about 9…

      also I find Mild even more diuretic than normal beer (possibly entirely psychosomatic).

      I have spent many many evenings drinking many many ordinaries though. also, in *certain* pubs (Shakespeare’s Head, Newton Arms) Courage Best can be a surprisingly good session

  3. Age is a bastard alright.
    When I started out working as a young hack the routine never varied.
    Four pints at lunchtime and never less than six after work.
    Every day.
    Weekends were for tupping so pint intake depended on whether you struck lucky or not.
    Unless it’s something light and sessionable like Hop Back GFB then I’m afraid four pints is about my limit these days before I have to switch to either the top shelf or some Belgian Dubbels.
    Getting old is a real bollocks.

  4. Somewhere (and I thought it was in “Down and Out in London and Paris”) Orwell describes the arc of an evening drinking and the emotional state each drink and hour brings. If that is actually correct, it would be interesting to cross reference the description with a graph like this. I can’t recall the last time I had a session of that length with one beer but it is a noble thing this research of yours. Pro-rating by ml of pure alcohol would help, too. Is it the effect that is having an effect or the intensity of flavour that become wearing? Plus asterisks for pee breaks.

  5. Session beer to me is simply that:a beer that is not too strong to preclude a session on it. Proper Job isn’t that strong and if we are going to preclude beers with decent (but not massive) hop levels, then we will only be left with Milds.

  6. I love these charts, really, I do. I should do one for my next evening of drinking. I’ll put a line on for ‘kebab’ at the end.

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