Sessionable in Portland (how about LAX)

File this post under, What is in Portland but I hope will come to Los Angeles. Sessionable is a pub in the Rose City that serves up, well, the title tells the tale, beers under the 5% ABV.

In a nod to hop culture, there are a few of the 30 taps that are over that mark. Most of the IPA variety with some ciders thrown in brings the total to 17 but that is still not bad.

I personally think that L.A. could support a taphouse with 10 or so under 5.5%.

The Book on Session Beers

Brewers Publications has a new beer book slated for release, Session Beers: Brewing for Flavor and Balance delves into the past, present and future of low ABV beers.

The book is by Jennifer Talley who has a brewing resume that includes Squatters Pub Brewery, Redhook Brewery, Russian River Brewing and Auburn Alehouse. That first citation is a Utah brewery where which means that Talley has had to work under ABV restrictions which is perfect training for writing a book on sessions beers.

If you want to dive into the recipes, development, ingredients and brewing process for the low ABV, then this book will have the information you need

Eagle Rock Session Fest 2016 – The Photos & Favorites

Last Sunday, Eagle Rockbrought together an eclectic group of brewers all with the task of brewing low ABV beers. The rain from previous days might have scared people away but it was bright & sunny and the beers were flowing with special guests like Mark Jilg of Craftsman, Mumford, MacLeod, photographer to the beer starts Bernie Wire and others. I will tell you my favorites but first some photos from the day….

Beers (including casks) in front and guest taps next to me too.
Beers (including casks) in front and guest taps next to me too.

The Brown Ale from Sanctum Brewing.
The Brown Ale from Sanctum Brewing.

I started the afternoon with a milk stout from Eagle Rock which was quite roasty but not as sweet as expected. After an exchange of pleasantries with Mark Jilg, I sampled his Craftsman Get Off My Lawn IPA which was a bit cloudy and more of a pale but a nice change in IPA flavor. Next came my favorite the HenHouse oyster stout which had a really nice savory note and a touch of saline. That was followed by the Eagle Rock Baja Weisse which was like a margarita beer. All fruity and light and probably my close second favorite. I also tasted a brown ale from Sanctum which was fine but nothing really leaped out from it and then finished the afternoon with the Saisonetta from Arts District. That beer was better than my recent tastes of ADBC beers which is a positive sign.

Session Fest 2016

Ready to get your Session on?

In the early years of Session Fest, it was just Eagle Rock pumping out a crazy amount of weird lighter ABV beers. Last year’s Betelguse beer made with bugs being a good example. But this year, the field is wide open with Bagby and Ladyface and even the Public House location of ERB in on the action. Plus many others.

Photos and beer favorites to follow but I hope you are there too!

Session Fest – # 3


One of my favorite events on the Los Angeles beer calendar is the Session Fest at Eagle Rock Brewery.  And it is back in it’s 3rd iteration!  From 4pm to 10pm on May 4th.  Here is the news feed from their website…..

“Session Fest is all about great tasting beers that don’t get you blitzed. All your favorite brewery staff will be brewing up some special session-style beers to share with you. We’re currently mashing, hopping, fermenting and working our butts off to ensure some deliciousness not to be missed!

This year for just $15 you’ll be able to get 3 beers and a half pint commemorative Session Fest pint glass to take home with you!

Additional drink tickets will be available to purchase as well.

We’ll have a food truck in the lot also and we’ll let you know who once we have it all worked out.”

Session Day!

This post is another of the read THIS first, then come back variety.

So are you gonna do it? Can you stay below the 4.5%? Is there anything at your local that is that low? Or are you going to have to find something bottled (probably from England) to celebrate with.

I will do my level best to stay below the limit and I will add an update to this post with what I have found.

Session # 40 – Session beer


Session Beer is the topic for June.

There are a thousand ways to approach this. 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?

What about the place of session beer in the craft beer industry? Does session beer risk being washed away in the deluge of extreme beers, special releases, and country-wide collaborations? Or is it the future of the industry, the inevitable palate-saving backlash against a shelf full of Imperial Imperials?

What are some of your favorite session beers? When and where do you drink them? If you’d like, drink one and review it.

I am generally a positive craft beer guy. There is too much good stuff out in the craft beer universe to drink for me to rant and/or rave about a real or perceived slight.

But, (and you knew that was coming), I keep waiting for the Session beer train to pull into the station but it is the little engine that just can’t quite make it. The trend just can’t get enough momentum. And as much as I would like to blame the “Imperial Imperials”, I think it is another pair of reasons that stall this category.

First is the puritanical streak our country holds onto with a firm grip and that is inadvertently supported by mainstream water lager advertising. Our culture looks down on massive excess in drinking or eating as much as we can’t stop massively eating and drinking.

Sitting around and having not just a beer but multiple beers while watching the big game or for no reason other than friendship on a Saturday afternoon is considered the realm of the frat boy, the obnoxious lout or the falling down drunk.

There will always be a push for moderation and anything that talks about multiple beers will run afoul of the more extreme forces of “anti”. Major advertising reinforces that with sometimes funny but always wild and crazy party life that is enjoyed by people who buy cases and cases of their low ABV, low flavor near beer. Half the country wants to get their drink on while the other half wants them to shut up and behave like adults. Session beer gets tarred with the brush of excess.

This leads me to my second wild theory. The image of the beer guzzling becomes linked to a certain neanderthal beer drinker. Just as cans were considered gauche and too tied to the image of industrial beer, session beers are considered too macro and not craft or artisan.

Maybe this stems from not wanting to compete against such a massive marketing machine and entrenched consumer buying patterns but I think some brewers and beer geeks have tried to distance themselves from session to avoid seeming too mainstream. It’s easier to have one or two hoppy IPA’s and maintain street cred then it is to drink a few rounds of a session beer that has the appearance of big business due to it’s ABV.

To end on a more positive note, cans are well into becoming cool again. So maybe there is still hope for the humble session beer. Maybe the session itself needs to be separated from the session beer to fully blossom. But I am not going to hold my breath, I am heading to the store to get a case of Full Sail Session in the stubbie bottles.