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The Rise and Rise of Session Beers

11th Dec 2014

The brewing industry is like no other – it’s one place where people are paid to, and love to, experiment. There is so much that can be played with; from malts, to hopswater and yeast, as well as temperature, carbonation and conditioning of beer, the list is almost endless. And that’s even before you start thinking about what else can be thrown in a brew; tea, chilli, chocolate, oranges, blueberries … we’ve seen it (and tasted it all!).

Brewers love to push the limits in search of greater flavour, with the aim of making the next beer that will make you go ‘wow.’ Typically this lends itself to ever increasing alcohol percentages in beer – we have 100s of beers in our store whose alcohol percentage hits well above 6%, and a few that even tip over 30%!

But while there is a trend for increasing alcohol content in search of flavour, there is conversely those brewers that try to tilt the brewing world in the opposite direction – brewing ‘session beers’ with a great whack of flavour, but allowing you to enjoy more than one or two in a sitting and still feel on top of the world the next day. The ‘session’ term originally appeared in Britain and was used to refer to the drinking of multiple beers in one sitting, typically a social occasion, without becoming intoxicated.

Today ‘Session IPA’ (India Pale Ale) is very much a buzz term in the industry. There are countless examples of brewers who are cramming their beers full of fruity, piney, highly flavourful hops while maintaining an alcohol percentage around or below 5%. As an example we’ve got two in this pack, Temple’s Anytime IPA, and for those that get the monthly dozen, Founder’s All Day IPA. Both are brewed and marketed as a fantastic beer that you can definitely enjoy more than one of in a sitting.

But while the focus at present is on Session IPA’s we expect to see more and more session beers appearing across a wide range of beer styles. An example of this is the Beer Weak Brunch Weasel from Danish brewer Mikkeller that I just happened to enjoy the night before writing this. It is a 4.8% session Oatmeal Stout and the kid brother to the epic 10.9% Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Imperial Oatmeal Stout. A beer brewed with one of the world’s most expensive coffees, made from droppings of weasel-like civet cats. I can definitely say it was well worth trying!