Certain issues beyond my control have kept me from posting here, and I apologize. I blame myself for the proliferation of over-4.5% ABV beers tagged as "session beers" recently; I blame myself for the number of stories in the news that have categorized session beers as "generally considered to be 5% ABV or less." Mea maxima culpa. I'll pay for it, and Lent certainly seems like the right season to begin.
What better way to start than to declare that
Session Beer Day 2015 is on for April 7!
|Displayed in Italy, Session Beer Day 2012|
Of course it is. Because this is our victory lap. After several years of being on the cusp, of thinking 'okay, this is the year session beer goes mainstream!', we're here. Almost every beer bar I walk into these days -- hell, here in Philly, almost any new bar I walk into -- has at least one session beer on tap. Every major brewer has a session beer in their portfolio (or comes grudgingly close; I still won't call Founders All Day IPA a session beer at 4.7%). There are session beer events regularly, there are brewers who make only session beers, session beer has been recognized as one of the major trends in craft brewing.
We can do Session Beer Day right this year. If you're a bar manager: please consider putting at least three beers on tap that are 4.5% or under. If you really want to support things, don't make them all "session IPA" choices; the Session Beer Project has always been about expanding choices. Lead, don't follow. Find something different, and reward it. If you have equipment for cask ale, by all means put the session beers on if possible; that's where they shine.
There are so many choices now! Try Smuttynose's new Hayseed (at 3.8%!), or the usual SBP favorite: anything from Notch Brewing, where Chris just keeps cranking out the great lower-alcohol beauties. Here in Philly we've got an embarrassment of choices: the consistently popular Yards Brawler, PBC's citywide Kenzinger, Sly Fox's traditional Chester County Bitter, Victory's nitro-fueled Donnybrook Stout, and not a session IPA in the bunch! Boston Beer has added Rebel Rider to their regular portfolio (and I just picked up a sixer yesterday), Green Flash -- Green Flash! -- has a series of Hop Odyssey session IPAs, Deschutes has their River Ale, New Belgium is on board with Slow Ride...and there are hundreds of others.
But insist on 4.5% or less. If it ain't significantly less, it ain't significant. We've watched "IPA" become an increasingly meaningless marketing term; even "craft beer" is being hollowed out by arguments over what is and what isn't. I welcome the discussion of whether session beer should be under 4.0%, but I dismiss the idea that it is under 5.0%. There's just not enough difference to be different there. If you want more on why, I've written plenty: have a look.
So let's do this. Brewers, get your little beers ready; bars, get your little beers on; and the rest of us? Start asking if YOUR local is doing anything for Session Beer Day, start planning what you're going to do, get creative! If you've got good stuff, let me know! Tweet it up: #sessionbeerday
Get ready for OUR DAY. Session Beer Day. April 7. Dream Big for Small Beer!