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DeanSheen
05-02-2011, 10:31
I was speaking with a few people at the Sampler about Session beers.

Session from Full Sail was brought up as was Bitter American from 21st Amendment as excellent examples of the style. I like both of those beers very much and have been advocating for more Session beers at every opportunity.

In several of these conversations I mentioned the Lew Bryson website dedicated to Session Beer and I wanted to put that link here before I forgot.

http://sessionbeerproject.blogspot.com/

Gillman
05-02-2011, 13:19
The term session beer, as far as I know, and I've never seen evidence to the contrary, was invented by the late beer and whiskey writer Michael Jackson. He meant a beer that was not too strong and could be consumed in quantity. By implication, he also meant a beer that was not strongly assertive in character, a beer that would assist conversation and not get in the way. No, he didn't mean Bud Light. :)

Lew has a good take on it. To my view, 5% is a bit strong for a session, but it qualifies if the session lasts no more than 3 glasses. Otherwise, a 4% beer or one between 3 and 4% is needed.

The current Sam Adams Summer Ale qualifies in that it is delicious, flavorful but doesn't hit over the head (or palate). It is IMO a decided improvement on the version of previous years. The earlier ones had a strong flavour of some kind of non-hop spice (grains of paradise maybe?). The current one is just much better constructed in that the spice added adds a slight accent but no more. Cheers.

Gary

DrinkyBanjo
05-02-2011, 13:38
Session Beers in the UK are pretty strickly defined. In the US the above description is fairly accurate. Basically, if you can drink many, as in a session, it is a session beer. In the UK the beer needs to be below 4%.

See session drinking in this article to get the jist.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_culture

craigthom
05-02-2011, 18:01
That's the way I've heard "session beer" used here, too. Mostly it's low alcohol. Lighter in body, too, but I think those things are linked chemically.

I would call most summer beers "session", even though they come in a variety of styles.

I wish people made session versions of hoppy IPAs. I'm not a big fan of high alcohol beers because I don't get to drink as many as I would like.

doubleblank
05-03-2011, 08:27
When I went through Hood River, Oregon a few years ago on my road trip, I stopped at Full Sail. Their pub offers a great view of the Columbia River. I ordered one of their "samplers" and was largely unimpressed except for their Session beer. I'll second its nomination as one of the better session beers out there. It's at 5.1% AVB so a little higher than I'd want....but comes in a stubby 11 oz bottle which I like. It has enough character to satisfy the craft beer drinker, but won't satisfy the hop heads out there. Whenever I see it at Costco, I grab a case.

As I've pointed out on numerous occasions, Houston has a very temperate to hot climate making it difficult to enjoy high AVB beers and whiskies much of the year. Did I mention it is occasionally humid here? Anyway, the opportunities to enjoy high AVB beers and whiskies are limited unless you enjoy 9% beer at 90 deg F and 75% humidity. I don't. Last time I opened a bottle of Stagg was two years ago and it's 3/4 full. So session beers and whiskey with an ice cube are my preferred drinks much of the year.

Here in Houston, my local favorite is St Arnolds Fancy Lawnmower at 4.9% ABV. Here's St Arnolds description of when its the perfect beer:

"Research has also found this beer to be perfect for tailgating at Texans game. Especially on those crisp, fall days at the beginning of the football season in August. In Houston. In a paved parking lot."

I look forward to hearing about other's favorites.

Randy

Gillman
05-03-2011, 08:54
Excellent comments all, but if you like a beer and want the same thing but in session form, there is something very simple you can do. Add soda water. Any kind works except, in my experience, the salty European spa waters. It's like what we do sometimes with whiskey. Don't believe anyone who says it's wrong or doesn't work.

Gary

SBOmarc
05-03-2011, 10:10
It certainly helps when a bartender can steer you through the taps and be able to quote the abv's. I also appreciate the blackboards and or plain menus for beers that list that info also.

Being back in the NE also makes Yuengling Lager available. That would be my go to session beer, and it seems to be eveywhere.

Things could be worse.

unclebunk
05-03-2011, 11:35
When I lived in England, so-called session beers were often "dark mild" ales, a type of low gravity brown ale that generally had an abv under 4%. You could drink them 'til the cows came home and still wake up as fresh as a daisy the next day. My favorite of all was Bateman's Champion Dark Mild, a truly outstanding beer that I'd give most anything to taste again.

DrinkyBanjo
05-03-2011, 11:44
When I lived in England, so-called session beers were often "dark mild" ales, a type of low gravity brown ale that generally had an abv under 4%. You could drink them 'til the cows came home and still wake up as fresh as a daisy the next day. My favorite of all was Bateman's Champion Dark Mild, a truly outstanding beer that I'd give most anything to taste again.

I think the best session beer I've had would be Stone Levitation Ale. Very nice, hoppy red ale that clocks in at 4.4%. Highly recommended if you are looking for a very tasty beer without too much booze.

DeanSheen
06-14-2011, 11:25
Beating the Session drum:

http://www.thestreet.com/story/11151686/1/craft-beer-goes-macro-on-cans-low-alcohol.html

The session beer trend (http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/blogs/99bottles/2011/05/the_steady_growth_of_session_b.html?rss_id=Top+Sto ries) hasn't been nearly as strong, however, as RateBeer's Tucker says that his site's numbers indicate that there's actually less session-strength beer being produced in the U.S. Beer blogger Joe Strange, using RateBeer data, discovered that 419 beers (http://www.thirstypilgrim.com/2011/05/growth-of-session-beer-not-yet-friends.html) of 4.5% alcohol by volume or lower were produced by U.S. craft brewers last year, making up 4.8% of the market. That's down from 615 and 9.6% of the take in 2004.

craigthom
06-15-2011, 17:03
That supports my anecdotal observation. Compared to even five years ago the average craft beer is significantly higher in alcohol. It used to be that 7% or so was relatively rare (that's the point at which I can generally pick up the taste of the alcohol, although some beers can fool me). Now that seems like the starting point.