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The Rise of Session Beers

A couple of weeks ago a group of bicyclists came into Trek as one of their stops on the Columbus Ale Tail. The four sat down, and each had one of our Trek IPA’s. After just a few moments, one of the guys looked up and said, “Wow. I really like this IPA. It’s delicious. This IPA doesn’t want to fight with you.” I laughed, and he elaborated by saying “So many IPA’s now just want to smack you in the face with their high ABV and their bitterest bitter hops. It’s been awhile since I’ve had one that is just a solid IPA.”

His comment stuck with me, and it actually echoes what a lot of craft beer enthusiasts are craving now – sessionable, drinkable beers. We’re entering into a new era in craft beer culture here: The rise of the session beer.

By definition, session beers are a broad catch all for any beer under 5%ABV. These beers range across styles- Session IPA’s, Berliner Weiss, Vienna Lager, Pilsners, Kolsh, Gose, and even some Stouts. I like to think of a session beer as a beer I’d want after a long day of yardwork in the hot sun. It’s a beer that doesn’t want to fight with you. It just goes down easy.

A few years ago, there was a trend in brewers coming out with extreme or imperial beers – those with the most hops or the highest ABV possible. These beers are definitely still out there, but lately there has been some pushback from brewers, and this sentiment is growing in consumers as well. A craft beer reporter summed it up well in this statement:

“It’s like spicy food, in a way. You can go for the hottest thing out there, but after a while, you might want a better, more judicious, use of spice to satisfy (and not overwhelm) your palate. The strong flavors of alcohol and lots of hops tend to hide flaws in beer as well, just like putting a lot of hot sauce can hide an otherwise mediocre meal. It takes a lot more skill to create refined, flavorful low-alcohol beers, just like a chef needs to learn how to balance heat with all of the flavors in a dish.” (http://mainetoday.com/blog/the-beer-babe/rise-session-beer/)

At Trek, we’ve got two beers that actually qualify as “session” beers, and they have quickly become crowd favorites. The Cream Ale is one of those beers that is just plain good. It’s light. It’s refreshing. It’s got good flavor. You can drink them for an entire football game and not feel terrible when you leave. The other is our Vanilla Stout – aka Kristin’s Favorite. I’m a tad bit biased, but guys– this is the best beer in the world. It’s roasty, with just a hint of vanilla sweetness. It’s chocolatey and all around perfect. It is not a heavy stout, so I love to drink it year round. And, at just about 5% abv you don’t have to worry that you’ll fall over when you stand up.

We’ll be brewing more and more session beers as we ramp up production of the brewery this fall. We’re excited to brew the clean and classic styles, as well as play with some of the more off-the-wall beer ideas. Come on in to Trek this week! Come have some great conversations with us, and try our awesome beers and our amazing guest drafts. We’ve got fun things happening ALL WEEK LONG (except Tuesdays…that’s the only day we’re closed). We’ll keep brewing awesome beers that don’t pick fights. We also really want to hear what you want us to brew! What are your favorite styles?

Cheers Friends! We’ll see you soon!!