Session Beer

I doubt that I am breaking any news addressing the “session” trend in beer, but it is noteworthy, and, in my opinion, quite exciting.  There are many recent trends in beer that we can recall.  The onslaught of Pumpkin beer is in our face now.  Oak aged beer, imperial ales, double IPA, ‘brett’ beer… all came on strong and have left their mark on the beer world.  The slowly developing session trend is the best yet.

American brewers are among the best in the world and their skill shines through in every category of brew.  Putting that skill towards the creation of the bold flavors that beer lovers crave –and that won’t keep you out of work the next day– is a commendable feat.  Beer is a fine accompaniment to a meal and serves as a fantastic sharing experience with friends.  The option to enjoy fine flavors repeatedly over the course of an evening is something our friends across the pond have been choosing for years.  After all, England is the spiritual home of session beer.

The craft beer movement in America has drawn some of the most creative brewers in the world to emulate classic styles, as well as push through boundaries and cook up some pretty wild stuff.  The session trend, born in England, brings a classic idea to challenge today’s brewers.  Challenge accepted! The lesson of the above mentioned, bold trends we have seen over the last few years is that American consumers like their beer to deliver serious flavor.  I do not intend to imply that classic session ales lack flavor, nor do I dismiss them as low quality – I quite like a traditional bitter.  What is clear, however, is that a higher abv lends itself to the flavor intensity of a double IPA or an imperial stout.  Can that essence be achieved in a low abv, session beer?

Indeed it can, and more brewers are showing us how.  There are a couple of brews that have really caught my attention lately.

Lagunitas’ Daytime IPA is the beer that will get you excited about the session trend too.  It has been over three years since I declared that, “Lagunitas makes good stuff!” Nothing has changed.  Lagunitas continues to impress with consistently good styles we can rely on and new releases of really good beer.  Remember their 2011 holiday ale? Anyway, the Daytime IPA is a fresh tasting, aromatic, hoppy tasting delight.

Notch is another brewery worth noting – so dedicated to the idea of sessionable beer that their flagships are called “Session Ale” and Session Pils”.  The idea is simple: lower ABV, great flavor, and built for multiple pints.  Notch brings even more to the table with Saison, Black beer, a cask series and the list goes on.  Chris Lohring (brewer) is on a mission to debunk the myth that flavor = high abv and is doing well by that mission.

Beer is delicious.  We all know this, and the direct consequence of this fact is that most of us want more than the 12-16oz standard serving.  Alas, there are many things to consider in this world of responsibilities, and many good beers have enough alcohol to render one ineffective in the arena of responsibility after more than the ‘standard serving’.  This is why the session trend is so great.

Leave a Reply