06 April 2013

Session beer day: Low in alcohol, but not low in taste.

I vehemently dislike specific beer "days".  I just don't find them very productive to the craft beer conversation, but coming up on April 7th is a day that I put my stamp of approval on and that is Session Beer Day.

What is session beer? If you know me you know what session beer is because you've probably heard me gripe about the lack of it for over two years, but for those that do not, I agree with the beer writer Lew Bryson on his definition of session beer:

  •  4.5% alcohol by volume or less
  • flavorful enough to be interesting
  •  balanced enough for multiple pints
  • conducive to conversation
  • reasonably priced
I think it really depends on how long you have been drinking craft beer and where you are in your craft beer journey, but once you've been though your days of the biggest hop monster you can stand, and what rare barrel aged stout you can drink, and how much face puckering sour can you stand I think most beer geeks eventually come to the point where I am right now.  I still enjoy those types of beer, but in extreme rarity these days, and for 90% of my drinking I simply want a refreshing and low alcohol beer that I can relax with and have multiple beers with friends or at home and still function just fine.  One of the best beers I've had this year was a 4.5% dry hopped Belgian pale ale that I would choose that over almost any rare or next "it" beer.

The craft beer culture is coming up around so many fads that seem to ebb and flow.  The race for the hoppiest, highest ABV,longest barrel aged, most sour, crazy ingredients, and strangest hops are all part of the landscape, but those have no staying power in my opinion.  Great beer has staying power.

Indiana has several breweries producing beer that falls into the session beer definition.  One that makes several is New Albanian in New Albany.  Their community dark is a full flavored English dark mild at 3.7%, their tafel beer at 4%, and they will have another beer available on April 7th that will weigh in at 4%.  We get some New Albanian beer here in Indianapolis, but as far as I know I've never seen any of those or Abzug on tap here in Indianapolis.  A real pleasure though this summer if you can get down to the Bank Street Brewhouse and get a pint of Community Dark and sit outside.  That is good living right there.

Here is a list of Indiana beers I can think of that currently would fit the session beer model.

Upland Wheat at 4.5%
Ram Brewing Company Big Horn Blonde 4.4%
People's Pilsner: 4.2%
Brugge Brasserie White 4.5%
Shorleline Foggy Loggy Lager 4.4%
Oaken Barrel Brewing Alabaster Wit 4.5%
Rock Bottom Circle City Light 3.9%
Flat 12's 12 Penny Scottish Ale 3.4%
Crown Brewing Crown Brown 4.1%

I am sure there are more that are less than 4.5%, but I'm can't seem to remember any more.  If you know of more that are below 4.5% that will be available on April 7th please leave a note.

I hope this will bring about more brewers to put on full flavored low alcohol session beers.  The simple fact is that if a brewer can get maximum flavor out of a true session beer I will drink drink anything that brewer ever makes from that point on.  It is truly a skill.

Please raise raise a pint of true session beer with me on April 7th, and hopefully many more session beers after that day.



  1. A new entry for the category - Flat 12's 12 Penny Scottish Ale.


  2. Iechyd Da in Elkhart has their 1635 Dark Mild that weighs in at about 4.2% A lot of Four Horsemen's beers are also between 4-4.5% like their Irish Red, Irish Stout, Long Beach Day IPA and Leprechaun Lager. I don't know if Flat 12 has done their Liquid Fiction IPA in a while, but that is another 4.3% beer.