Immerse yourself in all things beer
That’s right; I used a Something about Mary reference fourteen years later in the title because lately I’ve been digging on the lighter side of brewing.  And no, I’m not talking about Bud Light clones.  Although, don’t hate me, that is my go to crappy light beer choice when push comes to shove.  No, I’m talking about a nice session beer.  But in a homebrewing/craft beer world dominated by insanely hopped India Pale Ales, deadly dark Russian Imperial Stouts and other random genre blending, imperializing, oaked, soured, wet hopped, Belgianized brews where does the simple session beer fit in?  Well, let me tell you.

First off, they fit in whenever you don’t want to get annihilated off drinking three beers.  Don't get me wrong, I love a nice big beer as much as the next guy, but as much as the craft beer world seems to work to separate themselves from mainstream American culture they seem to fit right in.  Before you explode in anger stroke let me explain. They are the SUVs of beer.  They are the Super Sized meal.  They are the summer blockbuster.  By this of course I mean bigger is better in the craft beer world. Now, of course this is not the golden rule but it’s hard to argue that 6% is not the new 5% and that anything above 7% is not somewhat common.  So when you’re in the mood to throw a few back but still need to drive home and work tomorrow the session beer is for you.  

(Interesting side note: it seems light (Lite?) beer is the only mainstream thing in America in which bigger is not better.  And yes, I realize that my craft brew analogies are not perfect because craft beer is often  of higher quality as opposed to the Big Mac or Transformers III: Crap on the Moon but still, they do tend to go big so I think my points stand)  

But wait, you may find yourself saying “I like flavor” “I like hops” “I like body”.  Well my friend, this brings me to point number two which is the fact that session beers can have all of these.  If done right they’re easy on the liver yet tasty on the way down. Low alcohol, low
cost, low calorie (because remember, this is apparently important to the American beer drinker after eating three Big Macs), but still high in flavor.  Toss back a great session beer for a truly nice beer that you can enjoy two of.

And finally, point number three, if you like big beer brewing and pounding back good old double digit ABV% beers then session beer brewing can be for you too.  But wait, isn’t that kind of the opposite of this whole idea?  Well yeah, it can be, but not if you’re talking about the resurrection of the partygyle brew!  I’m not going to beat around the bush, I’ve only done this twice and the results were less than perfect (although not bad) but I love the idea.  Mash in your monster, drain off the first runnings for the beast and then sparge your way to a nice little guy to enjoy every day.  Gives you a longer (and hopefully more rewarding) brewed plus more beer for your

So in short, I love low gravity beers.  I’ve been playing around with a few test batches I need to write about, analyze and test out (mostly Milds, Bitters and the low gravity sessionized yet hop forward American Pale Ale) because like most craft beer drinkers and brewers I got caught up in the big beer craze so this is a bit of a foreign concept to me.  But I like it!  Simplicity plus technique plus knowledge of what ingredients you’re working with equals a good session beer. Or so I think, I guess I’ll need to test that out.  My plan is to do some more research on this and do some writing on techniques but until then I think I’ll have twelve of these 3.5% beers and wake up sober.

(Interesting side note number two: I desperately need to do a write up on my one gallon basemalt SMaSH experiments because these are what got me into the whole session beer idea. No they are not fantastically interesting beers, but I love tossing them back on Sunday during the football game without nearly killing myself.  So, hopefully in the near future I’ll pop open one each of the Maris Otter, Rahr 2-Row, Munich and Vienna EKG SMaSH brews, take some pictures and write up my findings.)

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