I’ll be doing a follow up post on the wonderful concept of “Session Beers” later on, but figured a tasting note was in order first. For those that don’t know, a session beer is one of those brews that can keep you going for a few hours at a bar or in front of a TV (During some sort of session, if you will). Think Anchor Steam, rather, think 5 Anchor Steams, and you’ll understand what a session beer is.
Clocking in at just over 7% ABV, Vermont’s Long Trail Double Bag isn’t what most would consider a session beer. After all, you knock down 4 or 5 of these malty concoctions and that session might not last too long. That said, the lightness, smoothness, and overall quaffability of this Altbier put it into the category of beers that you want one after another over a prolonged period of time.
Poured from a 12 oz. bottle with back-to-back cows on the label (Gotta love Vermont), this Altbier shows a dark-amber hue with a good 1/2 inch of loose head in a shaker glass. The Altbier style (Alt, meaning old in German) is rarely seen in the US. That’s a shame because this style is great for traditionalists and it’s one of the few styles where I think appearance lends more to the beer than anything else. When you peer into a glass of a good Alt, you’ll get a sense of what beer was like hundreds of years ago. Similar to an English Mild, a good Alt will take you back just from the color and the head appearance – It just looks like a mug of grog. Anyway, back to the tasting. Nose is quite pleasant, with a sweet maltiness and faint wisps of alcohol floating up from the glass. Hops are rarely present in the style, except to balance the abundant malts, and this offering is no different. When you take a sip of the double bag, it’s all about the crisp, bisquity flavors and the touch of sweetness on the finish. Mouthfeel is right in the middle of the spectrum. For such a big head, it has minimal carbonation so it has almost a syrupy feel at times. It remains light throughout though, which is why this makes for a great session beer despite it’s higher than “Normal” alcohol.
Bottom line, this is a fun beer and a staple in my house throughout the Winter and Spring. If I know that I want to stick with one type of beer for a few hours, say watching a game or a couple of movies during a snowstorm, the Double Bag fills the prescription. I’m giving Long Trail’s version of the Altbier 3 hops, which should lead anyone to at least give it a try. Sure, it’s not going to blow you away, but is that really what you’re looking for in a session beer? Enjoy!