Sunday, August 23, 2009

What is a Session Beer?

     Throughout the history of craft beer the term has been subjective based on the personal impressions of its host. In the United Kingdom for example the term generally applies to a beer that is less than or equal to 4.00% Alcohol by Volume where in the Northwest the term has been applied to a beer that is no more than 5.50%.

     It is no small secret that the Northwest loves its India Pale Ales with most of that love influenced by the green ocean of hop fields that litter the valleys. Often our minds wander to a beer that orange like the sunset or black like asphalt, so long as its more than 5.50%. It is now as we prepare ourselves for darker colored stronger beers that we pay one final visit to those beers we have dubbed weak, the session beer.

     Understandably as you read this already thoughts drift to catchy commercials filled with attractive people, comedic situations, and great taglines, all in the name of a beer devoid of complex flavor. I invite you this week (September 6th through the 12th) to revisit those "small" beers that we often dismiss as unworthy for our taste buds for fear of paying for something watered down. I invite you to have a seat with a stranger, a friend, a loved one, or even man's best friend, for the oldest of craft beer traditions; consuming session beers over a great conversation.



  1. the best 'session' beer i've had in a long time is mcmenamin's nebraska bitter. lots of taste and 4.6% abv. if i were drinking 5.5% 'sessions', there's no way i'd be driving afterward. then again, the idea is to frequent your neighbourhood pub so you can walk home, right?

    iceless in olympia

  2. I always find that it's better to have a flavorful low alcohol beer when you know you will be heading somewhere later than a beer you have to wait to warm up before enjoying.
    I love the higher gravity beers during the fall / winter but the idea of drinking several Cyclops over several hours seems obscene when you can enjoy several Golden Boots or Daedalus's without fear of getting 'wasted'.

    Cheers and I look forward to your feedback.


Session Fact

“Session drinking is drinking in large quantities over a single period of time, or session, without the intention of getting heavily intoxicated. Unlike binge drinking, the focus is on the social aspects of the occasion. A session beer, such as a session bitter, is a beer that has a moderate or low alcohol content - in the UK this would be around 4% e.g. Carling, or a bitter which is generally weaker than lager abv, while in the USA session beers may go as high as 5%. “