Yes, Session Beer Day 2013 is on. (Click here to get to the current half of the blog and see what's going on.) We've got some interest already, and I'm going to confirm that Session Beer Day 2013 is on April 7, a Sunday. Sure, most of us have work the next day...but it's session beer, that's what this is about. So start planning: brewers, think about new ways to get good flavor below 4.5% (other than throwing in tons of hops...sheesh) and fun collaborative brews with other folks; wholesalers, talk to your suppliers about the opportunities this means for the lower ABV end of their portfolios; importers, this is a perfect time to bring in those delicious low-ABV beers your brewers are making; bar owners/managers, let's see some planning and fun events for the session beers; homebrewers, let's talk competitions (and having some fun!); and drinkers...make suggestions on what you want to see, and do, and drink!
Remember: April 7 2013 is Session Beer Day, a day to celebrate great-tasting lower ABV beers! Go 4.5% and under, go 4.0% and under, but show some love.
Dream Big For Small Beer!
|May be used -- without modification.|
Session Beer Day grew directly out of grassroots love for session beer. On Monday March 19, I suggested to the members of the Session Beer Project page on Facebook that we should make April 5th (4.5) or April 7th (Little Repeal Day, when 4.0% ABV beer became legal before repeal of the 18th Amendment) our day, Session Beer Day. We thought we could ask for session beers at our favorite bars, and brewpubs, and suchlike, invite people to try them, gin up plenty of social media whoopee, and all dat.
We decided on April 7: there are a lot of photographs of a LOT of Americans happily drinking 4.0% beer we can use, it's a day the beer industry is already aware of, and...it's a Saturday this year (the day before Easter), which doesn't hurt when you're planning a beer event!
And then...well, it got bigger, quickly, thanks to Twitter (#sessionday) and Facebook and some fast coverage in newspaper blogs and beer blogs. There's more coming, too, including a piece at Craftbeer.com, and I'll get links up when I see them. Brewpubs and bars are participating, tapping session beers that day and selling session beers on discount to let people know how good these low alcohol beers can taste.
Late update: Untappd has added a badge for Session Beer Day: sign up, check in!
SESSION BEER -- WHAT IS IT?
There are a lot of different definitions out there, though most people agree that session beer is lower in alcohol, and more characterful than mass-produced light lagers. Here in America, the disagreements all seem to settle on the alcohol. There are hardcore British session beer fans who insist that anything over 4% ABV isn't session beer; the BeerAdvocate website says 5.0% is the top limit.
We don't want to fight about it -- we'd rather drink! But since we have to draw the line somewhere, Session Beer Day is going with 4.5% as a top limit (see the Session Beer Project definition to the right), and if you're going to do a Session Beer Day event, we ask you to please go along with that...though of course, it's only a courtesy, we have no way of enforcing this: we just want good lower alcohol beer. If you want to go lower, more power to you!
SESSION BEERS -- WHERE ARE THEY?
If you've tried getting session beers to sell at your bar, you know they're not easy to find! That's one of the aims of this whole thing: bring session beer into the spotlight.
Luckily, we have some friends at RateBeer.com who love session beer, and they ran a search through their immense beer database and pulled out some lists of American craft session beers (much thanks to RateBeer and Ken Weaver!). They've removed the major light lagers (if you'd still like to serve a light lager, may we suggest one from a regional brewer, like Yuengling Light, Genny Light, or Shiner Light). Here they are, in links to Google Docs spreadsheets:
- 1,217 American beers at 4.5% and less with more than 10 reviews on RateBeer, grouped by state in descending order by number of reviews
- Most accessible: 102 beers at 4.5% and less with 150 reviews or more
- Top 100: the top-rated 100 beers at 4.5% and less with 150 reviews or more
SESSION BEER DAY -- WHAT CAN I DO?
If you work at a bar (or manage one, or own one), please consider throwing some under-4.5% beers on for April 7th (three or more would be awesome), and make a special price or promotion for them. Tell folks it's Session Beer Day, and encourage them to see how good lower alcohol beers can be. (Good day to get a "We Support" window sticker, too!) If you decide to have an event, please post it as a comment here!
If you're a brewer, importer, or wholesaler, encourage your accounts to pick up your under-4.5% beers for that day; it's a great chance to promote those beers!
If you're a beer blogger/tweeter/writer, please consider spreading the word about Session Beer Day: use the hashtag #sessionday and feel free to use the logo image for that promotion.
And if you're a session beer drinker...get out there and ask for it! Check this list of events, too.
SESSION BEER DAY -- WHAT DOES IT COST ME?
If you're a bar or brewery? Nothing! (Sorry; no free beer on Session Beer Day. Maybe next year.) There is no cost to host a Session Beer Day event, there is no cost to use the Session Beer Project logo (or the "We Support -- Proudly Served" logo), though we do ask that you not modify it in any way. The window stickers cost about $4, but they're completely optional (though they're a great way to let people know you try to keep session beer available every day!).
All we ask:
- POST IT HERE as a comment to the original posting
- keep the beers you're promoting at 4.5% or less
- credit RateBeer.com if you re-post or print the lists they've provided
- run a sensible event -- no chugging contests or beer pong, please!
- spread the word.