Favorite session beers, IYO

This is the second in a series of conversations on session beers. The first, which is all the general questions, can be found here. viewtopic.php?f=1&t=110518&p=974320#p974320

As you can see by the first post, I posed the question, what is a session beer. Lets just keep it simple for now, for this topic, and assume the follow is a session beer:

  • max abv 4.5%
  • easy to drink a few of (eg massively hoppy, acidic, etc are out)

Simple, right? So I think splitting these ‘session’ beers into three very general categories. Lets call them.

  1. Traditional - everything through history that meets the above guidelines. An example would be the same one we used before in the Deuchars IPA. Others would be Moorehouse Black Cat, Brain’s Dark, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Berliner Kindl Weisse, Westmalle Extra etc etc

  2. Nouveau - These can be completely made up new styles, twists on styles, combination of styles and so on. A few examples: Drakes Alpha Session, Carton Boat beer, The Bruery Humulus XPA, etc.

  3. Other - yes, a very technical term. So this could be a catch all. Dead styles, historical beers, beers that have been sessionized. Anything that doesn’t fit the first two. Things like Grodziskie, AK, Sessionized IPA/Saison/etc.

This is not a ‘google best of’ or a ‘copy top BA/RB’ sites. I want to know what you’ve drank and what you like. I don’t want to know what the sheeple say. I want to know some great things, many times very local products, that you really enjoy.

Again, if you’d rather message me, thats absolutely fine also.

I always look forward to Surly’s Bitter Brewer coming out, think it is my favorite beer of theirs though I also dig their Mild. I brew variations of both for myself year round in addition to a very light end of BJCP spec American Pale. I know Bitter Brewer doesn’t adhere to a BJCP style but I don’t care because I really like it. :cheers:


That’s my exact point. I don’t care if any of these beers hit any sort of style. There are a million awesome session beers to ‘style’. What I am really interested in are the newer ones, the non-style ones, just some cool stuff. I do like the Bitter Brewer also.

I really enjoy drinking Goose Island’s Summertime. It is a Kolsch variation that is one of my favs of all time for session brews. I try to make a copy of it each year but still enjoy picking up a 6 pack of their beer when it is available.

Cascade ale is pretty good from Deschutes. and i can drink quite a few. 4.5%abv 28ibu. I had polygamy porter the first time a week ago, and it was pretty good, but i don’t know if i could drink it all day.

It’s surprisingly difficult to find low ABV beers around here. or maybe I’m not looking in the right places. looking forward to trying some that will be mentioned in this thread



That’s one of the key points to the book. More info on Session beers and hopefully people will make more of them. I’ll say this over and over, it takes huge chops on a brewer to make an excellent beer 4.5%. The more info they have the more they’ll be able to learn and do. The simple point is that people want delicious beer. If u can make one I can have many of (eg session) that’s even better.

Not terribly creative, but I have recently become a big fan of the Full Sail Session Black.

I just looked it up after writing this though and it looks like it weighs in at 5.4%. 11 oz. bottle might count for something?

I was going to say “Real Ale’s Firemans #4” but I checked their website and it’s 5.1%, so I’m going to have to go with “none” given the 4.5% cutoff. Hard to justify $6+ for a six-pack when I can brew something in the 5% range, fresh and bursting with hops, for $2.50 per case. Guess that’s not really a helpful answer to the specific question, but it is a vote for your book (so I can make better session beers myself).

As a traditionalist at heart; London Pride, ESB and Fosters Bitter… I think Full Sail Red is nice too. This is such an interesting topic to me. I began my brewing last Fathers Day. A year into it I’ve learned to really enjoy quaffable beers over the bombers. But I do like my hops too.

In Chicago, Goose Island 312 and Half Acre Gossamer Ale top my list of session beers.

North of the border, I don’t care what anyone else says. Point Special is the summertime guzzlin’ beer or choice. I’m also a fan of New Glarus Totally Naked when it’s in season.

I wanted to include something from the folks down the street at Lakefront Brewery but apparently nothing they do comes in south of 5.5%abv. Aside from Wisconsinite, which is fantastic but probably too sour to qualify.

Capital Brewery: SupperClub

What about a Guiness draught ? And contrary to the above I think Polygamy Porter qualifies as a pretty good session beer.

Uinta Cutthroat Pale Ale. It’s won medals in English styles, I believe, but this is more like a 4% APA in my mind. This beer was a revelation when it first appeared on tap around Salt Lake City back in the early 90s. I still seek it out when I’m back in Utah and I think it still stands out as an excellent beer.

Also Desert Edge UPA, from a Salt Lake City brewpub. Probably only available at the pub, it’s another solid 4% beer. As I said in the first thread, Utah brewers are doing some pretty good stuff at the 4% limit.

A new brewery in Flagstaff (
) Has a Kolsch called Gold Road that is really nice, and they have done a mild that was pretty good as well. They seem to always have a couple of interesting session beers.

The Utah thing is pretty interesting. A lot of the quality low gravity beers came from some sort of limiting factor. You have ‘X’ to work with, do what you can. Turns out people can do a bloody lot. I’m thinking about an Iron Brewer competition where the limit turns out to be gravity rather than a single ingredient. That might be pretty sweet…

When I go home to mpls, I like to grab Surly Hell…

It’s hard to find beer with that low of an abv where I live unless you’re buying BMC. I’ve come across a few, but they’ll run you $10 to $12 bucks for a sixer of craft beer in my town and I agree with shadetree, why would I spend that much on a low abv beer when I can make one cheaper.

Also, I’m not sure what Widmer Bros. Black Saison clocks in at, but my buddy had a ton of it at his house the other night and I was able to knock them back pretty well and they tasted wonderful.

[quote=“mashweasel”]I’m thinking about an Iron Brewer competition where the limit turns out to be gravity rather than a single ingredient. That might be pretty sweet…[/quote]The Limbo Challenge is a Texas comp for low-gravity beers, part of the Lonestar Circuit:

I dig the Nor-Cal bitter or smallish IPA style a lot. Abv around 4-4.5 keep it hoppy and aromatic, but easy on the cloying crystal malts. 21A’s Bitter American is close, but that beer seems sweet to me.

The style isn’t an over hopped American Pale, but more of a half West Coast IPA without being too bitter. Regardless of the OG, even for session hoppy ales, the beer should still be well attenuated, much like Bitter Brewer is.

I’m in England! Today I had John smiths extra smooth, and green king IPA. Both under 4% IIRC. (and the first of many I will be trying while I’m over here)

The john smith is really nice. Nice biscuit notes, maybe some nuttiness from the malt, and low hopped. I could drink quite a few of these

The green king was pretty good. I had it served a bit warmer. Nice hop character, far from “in your face hops” like I’m used to living on the west coast. But definitely a nice English IPA. Had great lacing on the glass. I could also drink a few of those.

Liked the John smith beer a bit more. But these are the first two beers I’ve had over here. I hope to try many more ‘sessionable’ beers this summer

Stone Levitation is always good though I tend to go less hoppy and malty both on sessions than most do. In all fairness, I’m more likely to session pilsners than anything else. And snobbish though I may be, I won’t lie that from time to time I am fine sitting down and drinking 12 Sol or Coronas.