Nick Larson and Jake Devincenzi
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Kinesiology senior Nick Larson and aerospace engineering senior Jake Devincenzi are Mustang News beer columnists.
It’s almost summertime, and with the incoming hot weather, session beers are becoming all the rage. Many top breweries have already released some delicious session brews, and the results have been quite tasty. Stone’s Go-To IPA and New Belgium’s Snapshot wheat have taken San Luis Obispo by storm (in fact, they were the last two kegs tapped out at The Shack. RIP.) We loved the first few sessions we tried this season, but then an interesting thought dawned on us … What the hell is a session beer?
It’s suggested that session beers originated during World War I, when workers had two “sessions” in which they were allowed to drink. The two 4-hour sessions were obviously spent drinking as much as possible; however, the workers needed a beer that wouldn’t get them drunk and consequently fired, so the session beer was born. As a general rule, session beers are defined as any beer with an alcohol percentage of less than 5 percent. They aren’t explicitly defined by style, but they are generally meant to be refreshing and very drinkable. This narrows the style down to mainly lagers, wheats, pale ales and IPAs.
Stone, Lagunitas and Firestone-Walker have already released impressive session-IPAs — and we have loved them all. The session IPA is particularly fascinating, as it is dramatically different from a normal IPA. When you think of your typical IPA, you imagine a hearty beer, full of moderate malt body with a heavy hit of bittering and floral hops. Session IPAs, on the other hand, strip that down to the bare bones — those delicious earthy flavors and floral aromas around a light refreshing body.
Since a “sessionable” beer is simply a beer that can be enjoyed in massive amounts on a warm summer day, some other breweries have put out “session ales” which are just renamed normal beers, as the term “session” is incredibly arbitrary. Though we do not argue these beers may be quite sessionable, we commend all of the breweries that have made sessionable versions of their popular beers.
So this summer, when the weather gets warmer and you want to drink a lot on a lake or the beach or wherever, look for a session beer. It’ll be light, drinkable and you won’t drunkenly embarrass yourself in front of your family. Maybe.