Highly drinkable – and local

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First Posted: 1/13/2014

Craft beer has come a long way in the past few years and has earned itself quite the reputation for showcasing the vast array of flavors and ingredients that can go into a brew. However, there is one slight caveat to these highly flavorful beers: many tip the scales in the ABV percentage side of things when compared to the beer that many average beer drinkers have grown accustomed to over the years. The trouble with this is that craft beer converts can have a less than fun time out with friends who have not yet converted to craft beer.

While your friends may be able to enjoy pint after pint of the watered-down fizzy stuff that they call beer, you may only be able to endure two or three pints of your favorite full-flavored craft beer before wanting to call it a night. But fear not, craft beer devote: craft beer brewers have heard your pleas, and many have begun brewing session beers. Session beers are those beers that tend to fall between three-to-five percent, making them beers than can be enjoyed in larger quantities without doing permanent damage.

While many large craft brewers are already producing highly flavorful and sessionable beers – such as Stone Brewing Co.’s Levitation Ale (4.4 percent ABV), Dogfish Head’s Namaste (4.8 percent ABV), or Founder’s All Day IPA (4.7 percent ABV) – we have a vast array of highly flavorful and sessionable beers being brewed right now, here in good ol’ Northeast Pennsylvania.

First, we have 3 Guy’s & A Beer’d from Carbondale whose Shaving Cream Ale comes in at 5.5 percent ABV and is full of flavor. It has a thick, creamy body that makes it a great beer to have on a cold winter night at the bar or while riding the lawnmower on hot sticky summer days. If you are more of a wheat beer fan, then Wheat the People is a must-have and is only 5.2 percent ABV as well.

We also have the hometown heroes at Breaker Brewing Company in Wilkes-Barre, who have a wide array of fantastic beers, many of which would fall under the session beer category. Beers such as 5 Whistle Wheat, Lunch Pail Ale, Olde King Coal Stout, and Goldies Blonde Ale are all jam-packed with complexities and drinkability while still being beers that are very sessionable.

The local juggernaut that is Susquehanna Brewing Company has built its reputation on brewing flavorful session beers. The company has a beer profile that is continually growing, but the core beers that they began with – such as Pils-Noir, a new take on the pilsner style by creating a black pilsner with a vast amount of complexities – still comes in at 4.9 percent ABV. Goldencold Lager is a smooth lager that clocks in at 5 percent ABV and still manages to have that great lager feel.

Nimble Hill is another fantastic local brewery that has gained a reputation on the back of its extremely tasty and sessionable beers. Try starting with Cluster Fuggle Pale Ale, which has a great hop profile and is only 5 percent ABV. Nimble Hill also brews Fuggle (an English Mild) that is 3.5 percent ABV; Flinke Hügel (a Muich Helles Lager) that is 5 percent ABV; and Midnight Fuggle (a Robust Porter) that comes in at a whopping 5.5 percent ABV.

Just remember that a high ABV does not always mean that that is where the truly flavorful beers are at. Many brewers have been asked and are responding to the demand of flavorful, low-ABV beers, but locally, many of our best brewers are already brewing these types of beers.