I heard from Mat Falco at Philly Beer Scene magazine that they're running a homebrew competition specifically for session beers! Check the details here; it's actually a bit more complicated -- and interesting! -- than that. It's a two-round competition, run through the area's homebrew shops; homebrewers affiliate with a shop and enter their first beers by March 3. (Update: there's a session competition in Pittsburgh, too: see below!)
The first round is the session beer one. Competitors may brew any 'style' of beer, as long as it is 4.5% ABV or under: "Anything over will not be considered. There are no other restrictions for this round." Furthermore, no style guidelines are imposed. "Good beer is good beer no matter how close or far off it is from the
style it’s categorized as. We are looking for a well-brewed, flavorful
interpretation of a session beer." I'm all for that; part of the impetus for the Project is to engender innovation in flavorful lower-alcohol beers.
Here's where it changes, and gets really interesting. For the second round, the top two brewers from each of the homebrew shops then brew another beer, using a pound of beans from One Village coffee roasters (supplied by the homebrew shops; not all the beans must be used in the beer)...and just to make it fun, there is a stylistic restriction on this one: no stouts or porters, the usual suspects in coffee beers. (Not to make a suggestion, but I recall a coffee-infused dark mild Gordon Grubb made at Nodding Head that was quite tasty; called it Up All Night, I think, and it was definitely not a porter.) Winners will be announced during Philly Beer Week.
Great to see this kind of interest and love for session beers!
Got word that TRASH, the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers, is also doing a homebrew competition with a session component -- and also using the 4.5% limit, thanks! Details are here; the winner will be scaled up and brewed on commercial scale at East End Brewing, where Scott has been a friend of The Session Beer Project for years.