Who Wants to be a Session Beer?

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sessionbeer‘Tis the season for sessions. But wait, what exactly is a session beer anyway? Yesterday we turned to the masses at Reddit to find out what canned, session IPA’s people turn to in the heat and were met with a wide variety of responses ranging from Evil Twin’s 2.7% AVB Bikini Beer to 6.8% Pizza Port Swamis IPA, which is probably stretching it a bit. There was even one creative gentlemen who used to mix New Belgium’s Ranger with equal parts water to create his own session IPA, claiming the old recipe had just the right amount of sweetness to make it work.

Really though, what makes a beer a session beer? And do session IPA’s really even exist? Well, technically they do not. Apparently the term “session drinking” is a British phrase that is exactly what it sounds like – drinking a large amount of beer during a session aka social occasion. However, the key part of the definition is you have to do this without becoming intoxicated. Enter session beers and American beer writer Lew Bryson, who started a blog called the Session Beer Project and defines a session beer as anything under 4.5% ABV. The Great American Beer Fest now has an award for session beers, but they include anything from 4.0%-5.1% ABV, and the BJCP has recently included session IPA’s in their guidelines. However, the term is widely understood to also mean that the beer has a balance between malt and hops, which is not something that can be said about most IPA’s.

Bottom line, it seems like “session beer” is a highly subjective term which really just defines a beer you can drink all day without causing a scene and being banned from future sessions, so to speak. Some people may want to pound 4% ABV IPA’s all day, while I could probably nurse a bottle of 10% Russian Imperial Stout for a few hours and still be able to hold a coherent conversation. Does that make Old Rasputin a session beer? If so, sign me up for that social gathering.

Written by A+K

June 18th, 2014 at 1:30 pm

2 Responses to 'Who Wants to be a Session Beer?'

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  1. Port Brewing’s session IPA is Ponto not Swami’s


    19 Jun 14 at 1:23 pm

  2. Being in New York we haven’t gotten to try either yet, but someone suggested that we enjoy their Swami’s as a session IPA. Good to know that they actually make a session IPA as well. Thanks for the tip!


    19 Jun 14 at 1:40 pm

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