Session beers? What are they? Why are they a thing? Session beers are a simple category, well at least they were for quite a while. At it’s simplest a “Session Beer” is any beer with an ABV <5%, so that you may enjoy a few at a barbeque, on a boat, at the golf course, without getting too far sideways. You can’t do that with 5 IIPA’s, don’t try to convince me, my golf swing is gone after three!
Note that while many, many sours like Berliner Weisse and Gose are <5% I do not wish to combine them into the Session Beer category, they are sours, and as such should stand on their own in that regard.
Until recently Session Beers were seldom brewed, if they were they were rarely marketed as a Session Beer, even though there have always been some low alcohol styles and beers that may have very well been sessionable for years and years. Brewers have been really been churning out some quite delicious, low alcohol Session beers this summer, and I thought it would be helpful to give a few shout outs and quick recommendations.
Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA) — Easy Jack IPA
- 4.5% ABV / 50 IBU / Session IPA / $1.69
- Bright and citrusy, lots of juicy hops, bit of tangerine and lemon. Really crisp and bright without being overly dry or one dimensional, a great lower ABV beer for the hop heads.
Dogfish Head (Milton, DE) — Namaste
- 4.8% ABV / 20 IBU / Witbier / $1.99
- Grassy, earthy, citrusy, orange juice, quite bright, balanced with some chewy wheat and bitter lemongrass. Really refreshing.
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) (Portland, OR) — Nonstop Hef Hop
- 3.9% ABV / 20 IBU / Dry Hopped Wheat / $2.49
- Not light like the stats might lead you to believe, this is chewy, wheaty, bright, citrusy, piney. Really nice as it’s not thin like some can be in this category.
21st Amendment (San Francisco, CA) — Down To Earth IPA
- 4.4% ABV / 42 IBU / Session IPA / $1.69
- Mosaic hop deliciousness here, super hoppy and juicy while still being light, bubbly, and quite dry.
Oskar Blues (Longmont, CO) — Pinner IPA
- 4.9% ABV / 35 IBU / Session IPA / $1.59
- Little bit more malt balance in this one, it’s lightly bready, but still piney, bitter, dank, and a little bit spicy.
Cheers, drink well and enjoy some session beers! Just try not to drink them all before Bellingham Beer Week. . .