Don is the editor of Thirst magazine.
There is nothing I like more than a decent session.
I don't mean going on a binge or anything, but rather a pleasant few hours spent in convivial company and accompanied by a few ales.
The English all but defined the session, mostly because of archaic drinking laws that split the trading day into two four-hour sessions, from 11am-3pm and from 7pm-11pm.
We don't have those restrictions, but I still think that four hours is about the limit of a good session. Shorter than that and it doesn't refresh as it should, while much longer may lead to rash words and, indeed, deeds.
Finding the ideal session beer can be a thorny problem, however. To be a good session beer means being of a reasonable strength (below 5 per cent alcohol) and with a non-overpowering flavour.
My own idea of session heaven is a shift at Galbraith's lubricated by several pints of Bob Hudson's Bitter - but I also sing the praises of Hallertau's Copper Tart and several English ales, such as the sublime Fuller's London Pride.
Of course, a session doesn't have to be in a pub, although there is something about being in a bar that lends the occasion the air of a formal session.
The best thing about any session, regardless of where it is or what beer is to hand, is the quality of conversation. There are few problems, be they global or local, that can't be solved over a few pints of man's best friend.
Sunshine Brewery Reserve Ale
Retails at the Brewery Shop at $6.50 for 1.25L bottle.
The ideal session beer, made in the Scottish "heavy" style. Dark copper-coloured with a gorgeous malty nose. The malt carries on to the palate, with rich brioche-like flavours and an almost tannic leavening of hops. A great beer harking back to a more generous time.
RRP $6 for 500ml bottle
A long-standing favourite, Bookbinder weighs in at 3.7 per cent alcohol, but you'd never know that from the depth of flavour. Plenty of malty fruit on the palate, almost like spiced fruit bread, with a citric tang from the hops and a long, long finish. Dunedin's finest contribution to life.