SESSION BEER 101
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.