Now in Session

Print This Page

First Posted: 8/12/2014

Session beers have been slowly making their way on to the American craft beer scene over the past few years. Session beers are beers that have 5% ABV or less, or simply beers that can be enjoyed in larger quantities during a drinking session.

For typical beer drinkers the idea of session beers can seem a bit foreign as nearly all mass marketed beers fall well within the parameters of being considered sessionable. The reason being is that these beers are made with fewer ingredients and normally, with rice or corn as the main fermentable, meaning it is not known as being very flavorful.

However, craft beers are known for being exceptionally flavorful with a wide range of styles and choices within those styles. The flavor profile for craft beers is seemingly endless, however the tradeoff is typically beers that are higher in ABV and conversely, higher in calories.

The rough way to estimate calories in beer is to multiply the ABV percentage by 30, for example Bud Light has an ABV of 4.2%, multiply that by 30 and the total calorie count in around 126. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA has an ABV of 9%, multiplied by 30, the calorie count is roughly 270. Again, these are rough estimates but it will give you an estimate.

The demand for lower calorie and equally lower ABV beers that are still full of flavor have been put to American craft brewers and they are responding with an endless array of choices for those looking for these types of beers.

Stone Brewing Co. has released their world class Go-To IPA that is 4.5% ABV and full of hoppy goodness and they also very recently released the rich and decadent Stone Coffee Milk Stout, which comes in at 4.2% ABV. Both of these beers are widely available and perfect examples of sessionable and highly flavorful beers.

Right now, the IPA style is the focus for many breweries when creating session beers, this is due to the fact that IPA’s make up the largest segment of the craft beer market. In addition, it is a style requires brewers to pay very close attention when formulating the recipe for session IPA’s because they can easily be out of the balance between hops and malt and quickly become undrinkable.

There is an endless array of breweries making great session IPA’s and APA’s but a few to be on the lookout for are: Founder’s- All Day IPA; Lagunitas- Daytime IPA; Firestone Walker- Easy Jack IPA; Goose Island- Endless IPA; Ballast Point- Even Keel; Terrapin Beer Company- RecreationAle; and 21st Amendment- Bitter American.

There are also some beer styles, which traditionally have lent themselves to being more sessionable, mainly due to their English roots. Characteristically, a vast array of stouts, porters, and English bitters are well within the guidelines of being session beers.

Guinness is the prime example that has a following everywhere as being a go to stout that is also low in ABV, but craft brewers have created many examples of the style that are packed full of flavor with a similar ABV and calorie count.

If you are a fan of English mild’s or darker beers try any number of these great beers: Victory Brewing Company- Donnybrook Stout; Breckenridge Brewery- Vanilla Porter; Deschutes- Black Butte Porter; Nimble Hill Brewing- Fuggle; Shipyard Brewing Company- Blue Fin Stout; and Samuel Smith’s Brewery- Organic Chocolate Milk Stout.

Whether your reasons for wanting session beers are calorie counting or just looking for a lighter ABV beer to stay out longer for a night of drinking with friends, there are an endless array of great breweries, local and national, brewing some exceptionally flavorful session beers!