Thursday, 11 August 2011

Spot the mistakes time

It's spot the mistakes time again.

This is Snake River's description of their A.K. Session:

"AK Session is traditional English mild ale. Mild refers to its low hopping rate. Mild is an ale intended to be consumed in quantity, thus the name “session”. AK is thought to stand for “Ale Kyte”, Flemish for “small ale”. This is a tawny colored brew that was a favorite among the farmers and laborers of the West Midlands.  The alcohol content is 3.9% abv. This beer is a collaboration between Chris Erickson and Cory Buenning."

It's particularly annoying because AK is one of my favourite obsessions. Once rubbish like this takes hold, it's impossible to stamp out.


Seanywonton said...

Ron, you're only doing half your job if you just point out the "rubbish". So, what is the correct answer? I'll admit I don't know, and I can't imagine I'm the only one.

Also...did you let the brewery know what the fix is? Just curious.

Seanywonton said...

Ahh...I see. It's a challenge. Sorry. But please do reveal!

Tim said...

Is there anything correct? The history is so sloppy that I question the accuracy of the ABV and brewer's names.

K.S. said...

Having tipped a few pints at Snake River, I will forgive them because the beer is just so tasty.

I've begun to regard buying beer like buying a car: the beer/car might be great, but everything the salesperson tells you is rubbish!

Sadly, I've found the cicerone certification (catching on in the US) just certifies that you are a good teller of tall tales!

Ron Pattinson said...

I want to give you a chance to guess first.

Craig said...

I thought AK stood for Avtomat Kalashnikova.

mc said...

"Mild refers to its low hopping rate."

Oh my. So many things wrong with this sentence.

Ron Pattinson said...

Craig, that's what Andrew said.

Velky Al said...

AK was a "light pale ale" rather than and aged longer than mild.

AK was a Southern thing if I recall, now I know Brum is "south" when compared to say, Manchester, but I can't think of anyone that would call the West Midlands the "South".

"Mild refers to its low hopping rate" - who wrote that? Protz?? Jesus wept.

Not to mention AKs were known, if I recall, for being, to use modern parlance "hop forward", oh wait that can't be right, hops were only invent in the 1970s with the advent of American craft brewing.

"Farmers and laborers of the West Midlands" - someone's never been to Birmingham, Wolverhampton or Coventry.

Adrian Avgerinos said...

I'll give it a quick go:

"AK Session is traditional English mild ale. Mild refers to its low hopping rate."

Wasn't AK lumped together with the pale ales even though it was served fresh like Mild? So more like a Bitter instead of a Mild, yes?

Also, Mild refers to the fact that was served fresh despite the fact that the name ended up defining a "low hopped ale" in the latter part of the 20th century. History is getting mixed up again.

"AK is thought to stand for “Ale Kyte”, Flemish for “small ale”."

First I've heard that.

"This is a tawny colored brew that was a favorite among the farmers and laborers of the West Midlands."

Tawny? I thought AK was typically more like a golden wheat color.

The great thing about the history of beer is that there may in fact have been a commercial beer labeled AK that matches this beer. However, I wouldn't say it's typical.

Question for Ron: In your opinion how would you say early 20th century AK differs from a modern golden colored Bitter?

Also, was AK typically called "AK" in a pub or was that an internal code name used by breweries? It seems unconventional that one would go into a bar and ask for a pint of "A-K" (or would it be pronounced "Ack!") ;)

Craig said...

I knew I liked that kid.

Andrew Elliott said...

I thought AK was a keeping ale, whereas Mild ale is usually sold/drank mild, meaning fresh.

Thomas Barnes said...

Lessee, first there's the grandfather of all weasel words, "traditional." That should be a big warning sign right there. Traditional when? 1400? 1990?

Second, there's the whole mild = low hops thing. More or less correct in modern usage, historically not so. Partial credit.

Third, they conflate "session" beer and "mild". Ordinary Bitter or berlinerweisse is just as "sessionable" as low gravity mild, while imbibing strong mild will leave you legless as fast as any other strong beer. Still, I can't fault them for trying to sell as much of the stuff as possible.

Fourth, there's the AK = Ale Kyte problem. It's possible, but the etymology is unproven. Again, I'll give them partial credit.

Fifth, mild wasn't always "tawny". There were, and are, amber and pale versions. Also, any beer which called itself AK in the late 19th century was going to be a pale (relatively) low alcohol bitter ale. Things have changed since then, but Victorian AK is more likely to be the indirect precursor of today's bitters.

Sixth, while the West Midlands is one of the areas that made dark mild famous, and the place where mild seems to be making its last stand, it didn't necessarily originate there, not was it exclusively a West Midlands style. Again, half credit.

Seventh, ABV is 3.9%. That's a wee bit strong for products that called themselves mild in the latter half of the 20th century. Perhaps more in the territory of premium or best mild. Still, ABV doesn't matter that much as long as the beer is a malt-focused ale with low hop bitterness. Also, on the American market 1.5-3% ABV beer has all the market appeal of viral hepatitis. So, more partial credit.

Since I'm the charitable sort, I say not bad for guys based in a little Wyoming ski town. They've sort of got their fact straight, although it's obvious that they're not brewing historians.

It's a gutsy move for an American brewer to make any beer with less than 30 IBU and 4% ABV, much less call it a mild. And based on the medals they've won, they seem to be doing well with it.

Anonymous said...

They don't speak Flemish in West Midlands? What's the correct answer?

Ron Pattinson said...

Anon - I hope you don't mind me calling you that - you'll have to wait for my answers post for the answers.