Thursday, March 17, 2016


Session Beer Day -- April 7 -- is only twenty days away!*

What's the deal? Pretty simple, really: it's a day to drink small beer in large glasses, a day to celebrate the diversity of tasty lower alcohol beers, a day to consider day drinking that won't ruin you. It's this. I like session beer anytime (and I like big, fat beers, and whiskeys, too!), but April 7th is a day to make a BIG deal out of LITTLE beer, to bring it to people's attention that a small beer can have plenty of flavor and be enjoyed with gusto. I love drinking beer, not just sipping it, and session beer is the thing. That's what we're suggesting for the beer drinker: try something new, try something session!

In support of that...if you run a bar, own a bar, order the beer for a bar...please consider supporting Session Beer Day! How? Well, put some session-strength beers on! Almost every market has some craft-type beers that are under 4.5% these days (see the SBP definition of "session beer" to the right), and there's always our old pal, Guinness Draught Stout. We do strongly encourage you to draw a bright line and stick to beers that are 4.5% and under, to make the point that a real difference makes a real difference. We don't need no creepers on Session Beer Day!

You can do a few, or you can go all in, like SBP supporter Paul Pendyck at the Bulls Head Public House in Lititz, Pennsylvania, which I'm naming: 


Paul the publican and the beautiful Bulls Head bar; I'll be here on April 7, 2016, come in and have a pint!
(photo: Lancaster News)
Paul is not only a great guy and a strong supporter of great cask ale (session beer's best friend), but he's a huge fan of session beer and has committed to a TOTAL SESSION BEER TAP TAKEOVER on Session Beer Day. Every one of the Bulls Head taps (including the beer engines) will be pouring session beers at 4.5% and under! This is where I'll be on Session Beer Day in 2016, and I invite you to come out and join me for a pint; get in on the Tweeting! The list so far: New Belgium Slow Ride, Ballast Point Mango Even Keel, Yards Brawler, Neshaminy Croydon Cream Ale, Sierra Nevada Otra Vez, Schlenkerla Helles, Victory Donnybrook Stout (Nitro), Steigl Radler,
Jacks Abby Calypstra (possibly).

Or how about Notch Brewing, which is going to be celebrating Session Beer Day at Deep Ellum in Allston (Boston) again, this year with FIVE SESSION LAGERS! Check that crazy cold-brewed shit out here. Special shout-out to Notch as they make daily progress toward opening their all-session beer brewery in Salem, Mass. later this Spring!

Also in Massachusetts, but not in a bar, the New England Real Ale eXhibition (NERAX) will be taking place that week, and Session Beer Day falls smack-dab in the middle of it! NERAX has always had plenty of session beer love -- comes with the casks, baby -- and in April of 2011 we had a kind of dress rehearsal for Session Beer Day there. Get a ticket, go drink great cask beer at session strength!

The Olympic Tavern in Rockford, Illinois has been a strong session beer supporter, and they're right there this year with an event titled (I'm blushing) Session Beer Day -- Thanks, I'll Have Another. Stop in, have a session beer, tell 'em I said hi!

Here in Philadelphia, which is a blithely unconcerned center of session beer (we have solid-selling year-round session beers from local brewers like Yards, Philadelphia, Victory, Sly Fox, Weyerbacher, and more, in a variety of styles!), I may be stopping in for an end of day session at the Grey Lodge Pub, where Scoats is cooking up one of his signature crazy events: some kind of session beer shoot-out is evolving, more details as I get them. 

Get on board, bar people! People want to drink session beer (sure, there are some grumblers, but they get their variety 364 days a year (okay, 365 this year...)), and they want to drink more than one or two. Get it on, get it out there, and leverage Session Beer Day as a way to make folks aware that you have a beer that tastes great and they can feel better about having two of with dinner. If you're doing a significant Session Beer Day offering, please leave a comment on this post!!

That also still leaves time for brewers to put together a great new session beer; as I said in January (January? My God, how time flies):
Take this opportunity to show off your skills and make a session-strength beer, 4.5% or less (you can do it; you can go lower!), that doesn't rely on shouting hops for all its character. We get it, brewers know how to make a light, wildly hoppy beer: EVERY brewer's doing it.
Be different! On April 7th, show us some real innovation, or some real skills to make a beautiful example of a classic session-strength beer that stands apart from the herd of 'monkey-see, monkey-do' dialed-down IPAs. Work with specialty malts or non-barley grains, a different yeast, light souring, smoke, herbs or spices, wood-aging, or sure, a light hand with the right hops, a pale ale, there's a thought. Make it tasty but not crushing, make it something "more-ish," as Michael Jackson used to say. Show the world you're not a monkey, thumb your nose at the "me too me too" crowd, and who knows...maybe find your next big seller.
Truly, folks: one of the great things about lighter session ales is that they're fast. So brewers, there's still time. Call a meeting, get serious, get thinking, make something really cool, and release it on April 7th! Tell us about it, and we'll blog it, Tweet it, Face-the-Book out of it. Really. We're serious. 

(I'd have been yelling sooner, but I've been sick like a dog; sorry!)

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