Saturday, September 4, 2010

Session Beer Boosted in Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina, has quickly developed a well-deserved reputation as a beer town of note; it has sprouted cluster of top-notch breweries, beer bars, and beer stores. But as Mountain Xpress blogger Justin Farrar points out here, they still have a ways to go on session beer (as most American beer towns do). Well-done piece that quotes both Notch brewer Chris Lohring and yours truly (they've got the SBP definition in there, and Justin's behind it; great to see).

Check it out, and then take a look at his list of session beers in Asheville. This is where Justin took the SBP definition and put it in the face of big-beer geeks:
I employed the guidelines recently established by longtime beer journalist Lew Bryson.
1) 4.5 percent alcohol by volume or less.
2) Flavorful enough to be interesting.
3) Balanced enough for multiple pints.
4) Conducive to conversation.
5) Reasonably priced.
There are more than a few beer fanatics, as well as industry-types, who are right now reading this and bristling at guideline no. 1. Way too low, they firmly believe; the ceiling for alcohol by volume (ABV) should be 5.0 percent, not 4.5. That is, in fact, the more popular number when defining session beer. However, at a time when inflated ABV-levels are all the rage in the craft-beer industry, I’ve noticed that ceiling has become taller and taller. Over the last month I’ve had two beers with ABV-levels of 5.4 and 5.5, respectively; both times my servers described them as session. So yeah, it’s best if we err on the side of caution these days.
Well-put, Justin. Time to get more militant about this.

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