SES­SION BEER 101

Food & Drink - - BEER EASY AFTERNOONS -

Where did ses­sion beers come from?

Ses­sion ale orig­i­nated in Eng­land, and there are a few rea­sons for its in­cep­tion. Af­ter World War I the Bri­tish govern­ment im­ple­mented taxes on al­co­hol—the higher the al­co­hol in a prod­uct, the higher the tax. This mo­ti­vated brew­ers to brew weaker beers. These low-al­co­hol beers also made for a great op­tion for beer ra­tions given to work­ers dur­ing their break ses­sions. It was a beer that could be en­joyed with­out in­tox­i­ca­tion, al­low­ing for work to carry on as usual. The style con­tin­ued to thrive in Bri­tain’s pub culture, al­low­ing peo­ple to gather for hours on end at the pub­lic house, so­cial­iz­ing and chat­ting over mul­ti­ple pints of beer.

What makes a beer a ses­sion beer?

His­tor­i­cally speak­ing ses­sion beers are in the style of an English Bit­ter or IPA. How­ever, the term ex­panded its reach so that now ses­sion beers are brewed in many dif­fer­ent styles. The defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of a ses­sion beer, whether it’s a lager or an ale, is its al­co­hol con­tent. Opin­ions vary on how high that level can reach for the beer to re­tain ses­sion sta­tus, but most peo­ple agree a max­i­mum of 5% ABV is rea­son­able.

Who makes a ses­sion beer?

Any brew­ery can brew a ses­sion beer. Some brew­eries craft them de­lib­er­ately while other brew­eries have been brew­ing low-al­co­hol beers for decades, long be­fore the term ses­sion beer came into favour.

When to serve?

A great time for ses­sion beers is when there’s an ex­tended pe­riod of con­sump­tion, such as a party or a get-to­gether. They are per­fect for sip­ping while en­joy­ing con­ver­sa­tion or an in­tense game of backgam­mon.

Glass and tem­per­a­ture?

No rules here. Ses­sion beers are ca­sual and no-fuss. How­ever, if you want to get full sat­is­fac­tion out of your beer, pour it into a glass. To keep things sim­ple, a lager can go into a pil­sner glass, while an ale can be poured it into a pint glass or mug. The ideal tem­per­a­ture will vary ac­cord­ing to beer style, but the ma­jor­ity of ses­sion beers are per­fect right out of the re­frig­er­a­tor.

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