Friday, January 20, 2012

Session Beer Project revived

I'm not just blogging more here, I've revived The Session Beer Project blog as well. There are two new posts up over there, one on 21st Amendment's Bitter American going year-round (at 4.4%!) and Victory's new 3.9% take on their Dark Lager. Have a look!


ennislaw said...

It would be great if craft brewers would get interested in dark milds, but I don't see it happening. In fact, I don't see a long life for any beer or ale less than 5% ABV in the US, at least in any meaningful quantity.

Bill said...

ennislaw, Goose Island's Honkers Ale and 312 Urban Wheat are 4.3 and 4.2 abv, respectively, and both have been around for years. Anchor Steam slides in at 4.9 and has been made in its current formulation since 1971. Half Acre's Gossamer Ale is 4.2 and is their best seller, or second best seller. New Belgium's Sunshine Wheat and Blue Paddle are 4.8, Firestone Walker's Pale 31 is 4.8... there are a lot of high-selling craft beers below 5%.

If I were a gambling man, I'd say you won't see too much bottled or canned by smaller brewers below 4.5%, but you'll see kegged versions. In my experience, Wisconsin's brewpubs virtually always have multiple options below 5%, because there are a lot of light beer drinkers and a lot of lager drinkers who want something similar on tap.

ennislaw said...

Outside the fact that I don't believe I've seen the majority of these beers locally, Goose Island maybe, definitely not 312 Urban Wheat or Half Acre nor Blue Paddle, it appears that American brewers derive their best tasting beers at 5% ABV or higher.

There is a local Kolsch-style and wit ale available in this area that is around 4.5%, but to me they're rather blah tasting, while Big Boss's brown ale at 5.2% (in the bottle) is world-class, OTH, British brewers seem able to extract an incredible amount of taste from dark milds that routinely are well below 4% ABV. Of course, these are cask ales as opposed to keg, so perhaps that is the difference.

Marc said...

Sam Adams offers many under 5%. Stoudt's also offers a nice selection of good tasting beers under 5%. These two have been around for a while.

ennislaw said...

Marc, not to be argumentative, but Sam Adams website only list two beers below 5% ABV (3 if you count SA Light): Boston Lager at 4.9% and their Rustic Saison at 4.3% ABV, which I've never seen locally. I'm not sure I would call this "many", essentially 2 out of 20 regular and seasonal beers, not even including their speciality, imperial series and limited releases, which are far higher ABV. There is certainly nothing wrong with a SA Lager, but it's what I order in airports (and am happy to get it), but not necessarily my first taste choice.

I count 4 beers at Stoudt's below 5%, but unfortunately they do not distribute in my state. I would be curious to taste them.

My point is you shouldn't have to compromise taste to get a reasonably lower ABV. An example is Black Sheep Ale imported from England; at 4.4% it has a great full taste and it's even not bottled-conditioned.