One of the biggest buzz words in the craft beer industry right now is “session”. While I know some of you are really familiar with this word and its use, I’m sure others really have no clue why it’s a big deal. There is a rather prominent movement right now to create more beers that one would call a session beer. Not everyone is completely in love with the idea of a session beer. I, on the other hand, am still trying to figure out where I stand on this issue. I try to be as open-minded as possible when approaching a new beer style, but there is just some beer that doesn’t always find its way into my heart. The entire principle behind this one has me wondering if I’ll like it, but I’m willing to give it a try.
The concept behind a session beer essentially relies on a few different ways of thinking about beer. First of all, it should be something below 5% ABV. This is for multiple reasons. It doesn’t get you drunk as fast, which of course means you get to sit down and drink of a bunch of them in one sitting without getting hammered. The other concept in this newish brewing style is to try to take that low ABV and still make it taste good. You can have no problem at all finding beers that are low in alcohol. The more difficult thing to do is to try to find one that has a lot of flavor. Therefore, it would seem that craft brewers like this new challenge. Lets do our best to pack good flavor into a beer that’s low in alcohol, which in return, people can drink more of in one sitting. An interesting new addition to the beer industry.
I’m fairly certain this will be my first beer that is actually being called a sessionable beer. Yes it does have multiple uses. This is a beer out of one of my favorite breweries: 21st Amendment. They are calling this one an extra bitter pale ale. While it isn’t quite as bitter as an india pale ale, it does have a little more bitterness to it than your standard pale ale. Interestingly, it was just announced that this one is moving from a special release beer to a standard release beer. Hopefully it is pretty good because I would love another excuse to buy some more beer from 21st.
This one pours out a very light yellow orangey color. Having had so many dark beers lately, I feel like this color is slightly off-putting. I have to remember that not all good beers are black. There is an ample fluffy white head that develops on top of the beer. I was slightly surprised by this, since I didn’t think it would be quite so prevalent. There is a little light lacing, but it really isn’t too substantial. A little sticky residue lingers on the side of the glass, and while the beer has really good clarity, I’m surprised I see no carbonation.
The smell is rather light overall. I was thinking that a beer that prides itself in a low ABV wouldn’t really be too overpowering on the nose. You do get a lot of nice piney hops, but they are rather muted for sure. There is a little light floral quality, and you definitely pull out some light grapefruit smells as well. You can also pull out a very light sweet malt quality as well. The smell is really crisp overall with some light earthiness to it.
The taste was really surprising. Like I said before, I’m fairly certain this is the first session beer I’ve had. I thought I would be really blown away by how much flavor they packed into a beer with low in alcohol. I, however, really didn’t find myself feeling this way right away. The beer quickly starts you in with some light citrus flavors. The subtle hops enter in but never overpower. They sit back and linger on the palate throughout the tasting. These hops have some very mellow piney flavor to them. You also manage to pull the subtle grapefruit flavors as well. There definitely are some very mellow sweet malts that run throughout. Even though this beer didn’t blow me away right away, I felt I had to change my perspective as I consumed it, and I really started to like it more as I got further along. It may just be the result of too many stouts and porters lately.
The mouthfeel is very similar to the taste: subtle. The carbonation is really relaxed, but it doesn’t manage to become syrupy as a result. It’s all just really mellow. The flavors are really clean and crisp while leaving a very light bitter aftertaste.
I’m still not really sold on session beer as a style; however, I do enjoy Bitter American. I don’t really think winter is the best time of year to enjoy a beer of this nature, but I can imagine sitting out on a hot day and really enjoying one of these. Definitely something to keep in mind. If your interested in session beer, or if you just want to get a good easy drinking beer, then you should really check this one out.
Teacher Grade: B