What is a session beer? Well, it depends on whom you ask. The term’s precise origins and coinage are fuzzy. Beer experts can’t seem to agree on a specific year, for instance, but consistently point to British pub culture as its inspiration. It’s generally agreed upon, however, that any brew bearing the description should be low in alcohol but tasty enough to enjoy for a prolonged period of time, or “session.” The ABV issue is a bone of contention throughout the sessionsphere. The general consensus is no higher than 5 percent ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters (ingredients) and, typically, a clean finish — a combination of which creates a beer with high drinkability. Enough talk. Let’s get to easy drinking with our Craft Beer Crosscut 11.9.17: A Flight of Session Beer.
Throw on a bikini top, drop the beads around your neck and toss back Evil Twin‘s cross between a hop cone and a lemon. The aromatics are a truly beautiful blend of straight-up citrus, primarily lemon and tangerine, backed up by very fresh, green, grassiness. Low in alcohol, spritzy, tart, refreshing, citrusy and chuggable, it’s the perfect way to start our session parade.
De Brabandere’s Wittekerke Wild is brewed in oak foeders unleashing microflora into the Belgian brewery’s Wittekerke, their sessional wit beer, resulting in a unique balance of wit beer and sour aromas. Faint aromas of lemon lead to a light and crisp mouth feel. Notes of peach, lemon, and fresh dryer lint (but in a good way) are followed by a mild, tart, and sour aftertaste that lingers and mellows. If you’ve ever had a La Croix, you’ve come close to tasting Wittekerke Wild.
4.7% ABV, 22 IBU
When non-Pennsylvanians think of the Keystone State, they generally think of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Amish people. Central Pennsylvania — that gaping chasm between the big cities in the east and west — is often called Pennsyltucky, and that’s where Triceratops Brewing Co. founder Rob Horn called home. He now brews in Tumwater, Washington, but still has one foot in Pennsyltucky, or rather one brewing boot. His Pennsyltucky Lager is a smooth Vienna lager inspired by the brewing styles of Central Pennsylvania. Its Caramunich malt gives the lager a roasty taste and just a touch of bitterness. It’s a crushable beer that you can drink all day.
4.5% ABV, 35 IBU
Fortside Brewing Co. hosted 25 Southwest Washington breweries to brew this year’s official beer of North Bank Beer Week — an India session ale featuring the first-ever Clark County-grown and Clark County-malted local barley called Expedition, named for the Lewis & Clark Expedition that made it’s way along the Northbank of the Columbia in 1805. After the 25 breweries added Vic Secret, Galaxy and Mandarina Bavaria hops to the malt the resulting Northbank Expedition IPA arrived dry and fruity with hints of grapefruit and passionfruit and very drinkable.
4.5% ABV, 47 IBU
Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson traveled to Germany and spent several days in the Hallertau region, the birthplace of hops dating back more than 1,000 years. There, he hung out at small family hop farms and worked with the farmers to secure an ample supply of Mandarina Bavaria and Hull Melon — two backbone hops for Easy Jack. This kickback beer spotlights those spicy, leafy hops; plus a dose of oats smoothes out the sip.