Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Session #20: Beer and Memories - Bass Ale

It's that time again, time for the Session... This month's topic/question, hosted by Bathtub Brewery, is...

"Is there a beer that reminds you of a specific memory?

If you’re thinking, “Huh?” then you might want to craft your response along the lines of “Whenever I drink [insert brew here] it reminds me of that day …” Or perhaps it’s the reverse. Oooooh."

This is a fun topic, and a challenging one... Many a good times were had over a pint of beer in my past. I suppose I could hearken back to the time period in my life when my courtship with beer began...

College Days and Bass Ale
Unfortunately my college days were sometimes more about quantity than quality. I didn't always drink for flavor, and I didn't always practice what I now 'preach' when it comes to responsibility and moderation. That being said, in a sea of low end beer drinkers, I was still an island of quality, at least when compared to my friends that would feast on Natural Ice from the can. BLECH! As I neared the end of my days living in the dorms at UCONN, I started to transition from what I could afford, to what I could enjoy.

(Note: The photo on the right happens to be younger version of me, at a wedding, enjoying a Bass Ale, just a year or so after college... Just happened to stumble upon this old photo, had to scan it in and post it... Too funny!)

I look back now and laugh when I remember my friends mocking me for enjoying Bass Ale while they guzzled some flavorless swill from a funnel. Granted, Bass Ale is not exactly the best beer in the world, but it's still leaps and bounds above the likes of Bud Lite and Red Dog. BLECH! I guess Bass Ale was the "gate way" beer for me, that eventually led me to better beer in the years that would follow.

Bass has had, and probably always will have, a special place in my heart. Despite its current place within beer-dom, Bass still garners respect in the craft beer world, often imitated with home brew recipes and at local brewpubs, Bass must still be doing *something* right...

It's still a good old standby for those times I find myself in a bar or eatery with a limited selection. And it's also in my subconscious, always serving as a benchmark of, or a baseline for, quality. If I try a true craft beer and say, this is OK, but honestly its no better than a Bass, then I know it's just an OK beer.

When I think about Bass, I remember my youthful follies and my gradual ride to maturity and responsibility. I guess you could say I "grew up on Bass" if you think about it in that context. I now associate Bass with cozy local pubs, good friends, and great conversation. I also fondly remember my own home brew being compared to Bass, all good memories, and over all, a respectable beer.


  1. I just took up homebrewing again and made a Bass clone from this exact book (extract version). It's been bottled for 2 weeks now. It tastes great but has a problem holding a head. May be the Irish Moss.

  2. Interesting... The Oktoberfest inspired ale ("Franken-Beer") I just made had poor carbonation/head and also had Irish moss in it. But I don't think that was the issue, at least not in my case...Does your beer start with a good head and diminish or does it have a lame head from the start?

  3. It has good carbonation, but a head never forms. I can see the bubbles flowing up toward the top... but the head just doesn't take shape. I've been looking around for reasons. Many places say that it is caused by dish detergent in the glass. I could understand that if it formed a head and then collapsed, but it won't even initially form. Besides, if I pour a Sam Adams into the same glass, I have a nice big head and it holds for quite awhile.

    I've read a bit that it could be Irish Moss (reduces head retention). Crystal (carmel) malts and flaked barley is supposed to help with head retention. I just bottled the Guiness clone from the book last week (and used Irish Moss). I'll be curious to see how it pours.

    Overall, the taste of both brews is very good. However I'd like to eventually start entering some competitions, and I won't get anywhere if I'm headless.

  4. Go figure... cracked open a bottle and behold! A nice foamy head. Opened a second and found the same. Maybe you'll find the same result with the Franken-Beer.

  5. Throckmorton, you may have an issue with your capping methods... I sometimes get inconsistent carbonation because I get poor seals on some of my bottles...


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