When we started this blog a year-and-a-half ago, one of the first priorities was to come up with a catchy slogan. Failing that, we settled on “The Session Drinkers Blog” which worked well enough until we realized that roughly 98% of the beers we drank and wrote about were above the 5% marker that defines session beers. The slogan gradually became the more fitting “They’re ALL Session Beers”, alluding to our tendency to order multiple rounds of our favorite brews, regardless of style or alcohol-by-volume. The issue of session beers was recently raised again by Edinburghian Honorary Alehead BeerCast Rich, who asked our own Brother Barley for his take on recent UK legislation that will incur a “Strong Beer Tax” on any beers over 7.5% ABV.
All this got me thinking- has the definition of a session beer in America become obsolete amidst the current craft beer revolution? Beer Advocate noted in its explanation of session beers back in 2005 that the average ABV of the 30,000 beers in their database was 5.9%, and I would venture to guess that this figure has gone up substantially in the past six years. Also of note is the method of serving in the USA, as most beer bars serve 16 oz pints instead of the 20 oz “Imperial” British pints found commonly across the pond- not to mention the fact that many drinkers prefer to have sessions in a home setting with friends around a barbecue or big screen TV, generally pouring and imbibing from 12 oz bottles.
If the Brits want to keep their 5% session beer, that’s fine with me (after all, I’m nothing if not a cultural relativist). But I propose the creation of a new classification that reflects a more realistic picture of session beer drinking in this country- I’m thinking “American-Style Session Beer” although I’m open for suggestions.
So, is this a good idea? And if so, what is the maximum ABV that you still consider a beer sessionable? I’d like to nominate 7.5%, as I frequently will consume a sixer of 7.2% Founders Centennial IPA over an afternoon of football and grilled cow, and I’m tired of asswipes making comments when I describe the beer as sessionable, which it is for me, otherwise I wouldn’t drink six of them.
Please cast your vote for the new ABV of the American-Style Session Beer, and leave suggestions for the name in the comments.