Its finally summer, its hot as the dickens outside, and you’re ready to kick back in the sun and sip some cold beer. But then you walk down to the beer store and realize that all of your favorite craft beers are pretty heavy with tons of flavor and a relatively high alcohol content. How are you going to sit around drinking beer all day when each one is 6% alcohol by volume (ABV)? That’s exactly why your local craft breweries are brewing session, or sessionable, beers.
A session beer is meant for one thing: a beer drinking session. That means sitting down for an extended period of time and drinking beer, all with the goal of being able to stand up again and walk straight at the end of that session. History tells us that session beers are a product of the time when it was not uncommon to drink beer all day long. People wanted to be able to go to the pub at lunch, have a few beers, and still be able to work productively for the rest of the afternoon. Hence, the need for a low alcohol beer.
Any beer that is between 3%-4% ABV can be considered sessionable (American breweries have been nudging that number up and its not uncommon to find 4.5% ABV session beers in the US….we’ve even seen 5% ABV beers labeled session beers, but seriously, who can sit around drinking beer that strong all day?!). Any type of beer can be classified as a session beer as long as it meets the alcohol threshold.
If you’ve been drinking craft beer for a while now, you probably remember the serious lack of low-alcohol, high-flavor beers out there 10 years ago. Sure you could buy the typical, bland American lager and sip it all day, but what if you wanted the more complex flavors of a craft beer? A decade ago no one really had any options out there.
With that in mind, a few breweries started to make lower alcohol content versions of their existing beers and branded them “session” beers. The idea caught on with people looking for a relaxing six-pack, and today session beers are all over the place. Session IPAs and lagers are by far the most common in the US, and they define what you can typically expect to find in an American session beer today: light, easy to drink, and with a balance of hops and malts. In other words, exactly what you’re looking for on a hot summer day.
Captain Fatty's - Beach Beer Kolsch
Draughtsmen Aleworks - Endurance SIPA
Firestone Walker Brewing Company - Easy Jack
Rincon Brewing - Little Rincon Session Ale
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co - Fig Mtn Light
Telegraph Brewing Co - Goodland Orange Pale Ale
M. Special - American Lager
Island Brewing Co - PCH