An Introduction to Session Beers

With the weather warming up and spring quickly approaching I am becoming less interested in the  high alcohol beers great for sitting beside a fire on a cold winter night.  Don’t get me wrong I love Imperial Stouts and Belgian beers but you can’t drink those all the time.  What I’m beating around the bush about are the low alcohol beers known as session beers.  “Session beer” is a beer defined as a crisp, well balanced and highly drinkable beer of at most 5% alcohol by volume. The term comes from being able to drink many over the course of a few hours and not be  inappropriately intoxicated. The British style pub ales and lagers are classic examples of session beers with the average alcohol content around 4.5%. But what I really am intrigued with is sessionable but flavourful beers that although lower in alcohol have an uncompromised flavour. This style of brewing seems to be uncommon with most American and Canadian craft breweries with an IPA or Stout averaging around 6% alcohol by volume. For me a hoppy IPA brewed to 3.5%  would be a summer delight. In general, delicious session beers are few and far between so I offer a short list of a few lower alcohol offerings.

Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale – At 5% ABV this is the quintessential hoppy session beer from Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewing Company. Uncompromising flavour and aroma with a forward hop and light caramel malts in a great balance.

Howe Sound Rail Ale Nut Brown –  Once again at the upper limit of 5%, this brown ale has fantastic roasted malts and hints of licorice root and vanilla. Perhaps not as balanced as most session beers but a more robust and intense flavour profile.

Wild Rose Velvet Fog Wheat Ale – This local favorite brewed to 4.5% is full flavoured Wheat Ale light crisp wheat malts and a hint of spices. Velvet Fog is a nice and easy to drink but flavourful beer.


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