5 Session Beers to Kick-Start Summer
There’s something about an imperial IPA that’s just amazing. The mix of hop flavor, aroma, and high alcohol content come together to make a beer that requires sipping, but the time you take to drink it is totally worth it. You don’t order three or four 10% ABV (Alcohol by Volume) Double IPAs in a row, but instead enjoy one, possibly two over the course of a night.
While this is great, what happens when it’s beautiful outside and you want to kick back and enjoy a few beers? It’s commonly believed that all craft beer is high in alcohol, which is one reason some beer drinkers steer clear of it. They’d rather be able to enjoy a few cold beers than only one. Thankfully, both sides of this debate are correct, and craft beer has something to offer everyone thanks to session beers.
Session beers are made specifically to give you all the flavor you’d expect from a craft beer while keeping the ABV nice and low. Session beers more specifically focus on the flavor and aroma that craft beers are known for while staying low enough ABV that you finally have one you can easily tailgate with, or just enjoy after cutting the grass.
Here are some examples of Great Session Beers:
The craft beer world needs higher ABV beers. They’re complex, delicious, and truly speak to the inventive nature and skill of craft brewers. Session beers won’t dethrone the imperials and doubles of the world, but instead add a way for you to enjoy your favorite style of beer in even more places.
21st Amendment Brewery: Down to Earth
21st Amendment’s space monkey is back from his trip to outer space, and he brought with him an amazing 4.4% ABV beer. Down to Earth is their version of a session IPA and overall, it stands as a great example of what you should expect in one, too. Down to Earth is replacing 21A’s Bitter American in their year-round lineup and while this is somewhat of a toned-down version, it’s still got a flavor profile and body we’ve come to love.
Down to Earth features several late addition hops to up the aroma and is dry-hopped with Mosaic and Centennial hops to really kick the aroma up a notch. All of this, paired with a solid malt bill makes this session IPA as delicious as any standard IPA, but with the added benefit of being able to enjoy a few and still get on with your day.
BrooklynBrewery: 1/2 Ale
One of the best styles of beer for the summer has to be the saison. These farmhouse ales were brewed originally to be crisp and refreshing, especially in hot climates and after a day of farming. Saisons typically come in between 5-7% ABV, and while this fits perfectly with their flavor profile, a session saison is perfect for warmer weather and outdoor activities.
Brooklyn Brewery created their 1/2 Ale for just this reason. Their sessionable saison clocks in at 3.4% ABV but hasn’t lost a bit of its flavor in the process. 1/2 Ale is an unfiltered, balanced saison that pours a hazy, pale yellow color. Brooklyn packed this beer with citrusy hops including Perle, Simcoe, Amarillo, and Sorachi Ace on top of a gentle malt base. This, paired with the standard spiciness you expect from a saison make it the perfect match for spicy dishes and cheeses.
Boulder Brewing: Hazed Hoppy Session Ale
Boulder Brewing’s old Hazed & Infused Dry-Hopped Ale is the all-new Hazed Hoppy Session Ale. The beer stays the same but the name and packaging is new and improved. Hazed Hoppy Session Ale speaks more to what this beer has always been, and thanks to the love that session beers have been seeing, it can now be described in a way more of us understand.
Hazed comes in at the top of what a session beer is considered at 5%, but it seems just about perfect at this level. Tons of dry-hopping give the beer lots of hop aroma and taste while keeping the bitterness low and the alcohol in check.
Flying Dog Brewery: Easy IPA
If there was ever a brewery that was known for not having restraint in their beers, Flying Dog would be near the top of the list. From big beer to the weird and wild, Flying Dog pushes the boundaries and always comes out on top.
Their attempt at a sessionable IPA comes to us in the way of Easy IPA. This 4.7% American IPA uses biscuity malts to give the beer a nice body while the hop profile is all about grapefruit, lemon, and subtle pine hop notes. All together this makes for a light yet flavorful beer that’s perfect for summer and beyond.
Southern Tier Brewery: Right-O-Way IPA
Rounding out our list is a session IPA form the folks in Lakewood, NY. Southern Tier Brewing’s Right-O-Way IPA comes in at a sessionable 4.5% ABV while keeping all the flavor and aroma you expect from a Southern Tier IPA with a little less alcohol.
Right-O-Way IPA uses two different types of hops as well as two different types of malts. The aroma on this beer is all about citrus and floral notes, while the flavor is biscuity with a zesty grapefruit and tropical fruit back. Definitely one of the “easier” beers that Southern Tier has made, and thankfully it’s a very solid beer that just has a little less alcohol.
Each of these beers and more are proudly distributed by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale and can be found at your favorite craft beer spots in and around the Pittsburgh area.