As craft brewers embrace beers with less than 5% alcohol by volume and can packaging long held to ridicule after being stacked in "beeramids" and smashed against one too many frat boy foreheads, they're battling both for market share in an increasingly crowded segment and against longstanding beer stigmas passed down through generations of drinkers.True. But craft session beer also addresses a problem, as ratebeer's Joe Tucker (a strong ally of session beer) points out:
"We have a 'usability' problem -- average alcohol by volume is way too high to be sipping multiple beers down at the river, cutting the lawn or at the game," says Joseph Tucker, owner and operator of RateBeer, who sees session beer as a solution to craft beer's summer quandary. "High-alcohol beer is more filling, it has more calories and it's dehydrating, and this makes the average craft beer a problem in the summertime."Can you drink big beer in the summer? Sure: that's what air-conditioning is for. I had an Otto's Double D during Philly Beer Week in the coolly chilled Grey Lodge Pub, and it tasted great. But when I was sweating it at a packed event later in the week, doors and windows open wide to try to get a breath of air into the place? Nice cold Kenzinger, baby.
One problem I continually struggle with is the folks who want to up the definition of session to include 5% and even 5.5% beers. I don't want to get to be an ABV Nazi, but the fact is, if most world beers, if average beers home in around 5%...that makes "session beers" no big deal, and once again stuffs 3.5% beers down into the "not enough" category we've seen expanding in beer judging, and in the pale ale, IPA, and even double IPA categories, a real "go big or go home" mentality that I've pegged as the "get a bigger monkey" syndrome. Keep "session beer" defined as 4.5% and less -- or 4% or less -- and you'll get a more level playing field for these beers, and you will see more creativity and more flavor at that level. We're seeing it already.
Chris Lohring, at The Notch, doing all session beer, naturally thinks a lot about the subject, and offers this:
"If it's fine to call something 'extreme,' and the craft beer community has really embraced that term, then what's so bad about embracing a term that's the opposite of that in 'session'?"Indeed. What's so bad about it? What is everyone so scared of? Summer of 2011, baby: the Summer of Session? Finally?