June 4, 2010

The Session #40: Session Beer

Erik over at Top Fermented hosts this month's version of the Session and chose a topic that's homophonically appropriate. Session beers. Erik asks:

What is your definition of a session beer? Is it, as Dr. Lewis suggested at the Craft Brewers Conference this year, “a pint of British wallop” or is your idea of a session beer a crisp Eastern European lager, a light smoky porter, a dry witbier, or even a dry Flemish sour?

Is it merely enough for a beer to be low alcohol to be considered a session beer, or is there some other ineffable quality that a beer must hold in order to merit the term? And if so, what is that quality? Is it “drinkability”? Or something else?
This will be short'n'easy (if any of you make a crude comment about my brand new wife, Half Pint, yer all in big trouble. Yes, I've been remiss about blogging since I stopped doing it long enough to get hitched to the greatest chick beer drinker in the land) since I'm a devotee of session beers, which to me is just anything I can drink several pints of without having my
keister meet the floor. For me, and I'm not saying this because I think Fritz reads my blog, it's Anchor Steam. 4.9% ABV and the one that started it all. It's got malt, it's got hops, it's got bubbles, and like barbeque sauce (otherwise, whip cream), it goes with everything. Since I live in an apartment in San Francisco, I wouldn't know from a lawn, but if I did, the first thing I'd purchase after a ridable John Deere would be a case of Anchor Steam. Yes, I love trying 14% RIS's and whatnot, but it boils down to this: I'm a lightweight! If I don't have enough food and water in me, I'm schnockered. I've never once left Bell's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo sturdily on my own feet. But I do walk out of my local Magnolia Pub because as is their wont in being a British style gastropub (albeit with mounds of California accentuation), they brew loads of session beers. It's even on record that I rehydrate with their 3.6% Dark Star Mild after the SFBW Beer Run. Does a low alcohol session beer have to be
mild? No way, Jose. Whenever I find it, I'm sure to treat myself to the Bruery's Hottenroth Berlinerweisse, which, at 3.1%, I can't fathom how they cram so much tartness and deliciousness into such a light beer. A personal shout out to the boys down there for making a beer I can drink copiously without embarrassing myself. All hail the session beer.