The world of beer is vast. So many different styles, so many different approaches. When it comes to beers, this is my forte – session beers. With the change in seasons among us, we are going to do a series on session beers because soon enough it will be perfect weather for drinking them. But before we start hacking away at this genre of beers there a few things that you should know.
Commonly small beers and session beers are thrown around interchangeably. So this is where the beer nerd talk comes out and I’m going to break down exactly what this style is.
A session beer really is any beer that does not go higher than 5% ABV. Since that beer style become so vast, I like to make it a bit more niche, my personal opinion is the beer should be 4.7% ABV or lower. The idea is simple, you can drink quite a few and still walk a straight line. The beer will normally have a clean finish and a good balance of hops and malt. Thanks to beers such as Michelob Ultra Light some might refer to these beers as, “Chick beers”, hopefully you perception will change.
Seems simple enough right? The truth is, it’s not. What’s really hard about smaller beers is that everything you add has a major impact. I know that people could argue that goes the same for all beers, but in my opinion that is not the exactly the case. If you are doing a big Imperial Stout lets say, specialty grains that you add can hide. Sometimes, bigger beers are safe because they can be forgiving with time. If you are doing a session lager, any mistake that you have is going to be obvious because there isn’t a big, “backbone” of flavor to begin with.
So when do you drink session beers? Well I like them year round, but I really think that their time to shine is in the late spring, summer and early fall. When you are outside, it’s hot out and want to drink a flavorful beer that won’t get you drunk right away, here you go.
So this series is going to go into a few different things that you should keep in mind when making session beers, how to do recipe development for session beers and also a handful of recipes that are amazing session beers. I hope that at the end of it if you don’t already, you gain an appreciation for the small guy and if you do love the smaller beers, you gain a few pointers. With that said, I’m very excited about this series.