Session Beers – Finding Flavor Country in 5% ABV or Less

June 12th, 2009 · 7 Comments · California Beer, General Beer News, Oregon Breweries, Washington Breweries

Thanks to on flickr for the photo.

Thanks to on flickr for the photo.

Living in the city and being a man who enjoys his beer, I do my best to use cabs, public transportation, or my own two feet to get me around. That doesn’t always work, though, and there are plenty of times that we end up driving across town to visit a favorite pub or attend a party or an event. On these occasions, I make sure that I pay more attention to how much I drink and what I’m drinking. That’s where session beer can be your best friend. The term “session beer” can mean many things to many people, but for my purposes the only qualification is that the beer is at 5% ABV or less; something that you can have a few of and not have to worry about driving your car into a ditch on the way home. Session beers obviously aren’t just good for when you are driving; any good session beer is a welcome sight anytime you visit a pub and don’t feel like walking out with much of a buzz, and it is ideal for long drinking sessions (um, yeah, hence the name).  

Session beer has been getting more attention over the past year in a variety of magazines, blogs and newspapers, and Lew Bryson is heading up the Session Beer Project, which is a movement to popularize and support the brewing and enjoyment of session beers. Due to proximity (he’s located in Philly), much of his content is focussed on the East Coast, but it is still an interesting read. Out here in Seattle, Chris Devlin of the Beer Retard voiced his support for Lew’s cause, and at one point I think he even tried to limit his beer consumption to consist of nothing but beers under 5% ABV. How’d that go, Chris?

Here at Seattle Beer News, I’m going to try my best to work in more posts about session beers and I’ve also added a “NW Session Beers” page (link on the top of the website menu bar) to try and keep a running list of what beers are available out here in Seattle/NW. Bear with me while I get the list up to speed, but also feel free to leave a comment or email me with beers you think should be on the list.

For the next Northwest Brewing News tasting panel, we will also be focussing on Session Beers. So, if you have a favorite session beer available in bottles in either Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Northern California or British Columbia, please let me know and I’ll try to include it in our tasting. For any breweries that might be reading, please email me to submit samples.

Tags: ·

7 Comments so far ↓

  • Pollack

    I am sick of of Lew’s Session Beer Project, though I love the man. It is changing festivals and events in a way I find rather negative. Why go to a festival’s VIP session when you only get session beers yet pay more money?

  • Beer Retard

    It went well for about a week, until Brouwer’s put Blind Pig on. That finished me. The problem was, I love my IPAs and had trouble finding any that low. I could only drink so many pilsners. I was also doing it during the winter, when lower ABV beers are more scarce.

    With all the good stuff we’ve gotten here recently, I think I could do it for longer. I could exist solely on Lagunitas Dogtown Pale and Firestone Walker’s Pale 31 for a couple months…if I had to.

  • WA Beer Blog

    Can you imagine if someone was able to purchase the Rainier brand and started making a pre-prohibition craft lager named Rainier? You’d make a fortune.

  • Lew Bryson

    Hey, Pollack, I’m tired of going to connoisseur sessions where all you get is tiny pours of wigged out extreme beers. Maybe there’s room in the middle to compromise? Ya think? Besides, how many festivals has the SBP affected? One?

    All I want is MORE CHOICE and MORE VARIETY, which — I thought! — was what this whole craft beer thing was all about.

    Thanks for the note, Kaiser, I’ll be looking for that list!

  • Jim Parker

    C’mon Lew,

    We all know what you want … MORE. When are you coming out to the Left Coast again? Maybe we can sweeten the pot with an ALL session beer fest. Stay tuned.


  • Mjtedin

    I think session beers are great. My favorite is Guinness. I will usually start the evening with a belgian or two, then realize I am way ahead of my friends on the ABV, so I switch to Guinness to sober up a bit.

  • Lew Bryson

    MORE is good, Jim! Thinking about Left Coast this year, I got things out there I gotta drink.

Leave a Comment