One of my goals is to promote session beers. Session beers have low alcohol contents and are very drinkable, meaning that a person can easily consume several of them without feeling overwhelmed. They're good beers to stick with over the course of a long drinking session, such as spending the evening at a pub. Session beers are relatively popular in the British Isles and Germany, but the resurgence of craft brewing in the states has largely relied on strong ales. So why brew session beers?
The big reason is because they naturally moderate alcohol consumption. I'm not gonna lie to you; I like having a beer in my hand. It relaxes my nerves and boosts my confidence. A session beer is a willing security blanket that won't knock me out with a sucker punch and write dirty words on my forehead. I love drinking big beers, but holding an empty glass for an hour between each pint of IPA isn't my favorite way to make a night of it. In addition, session beers are great for informal and unplanned drinking. Do you ever feel like stopping by the pub on the way home from work? Have a quick session beer, say hi to a few friends and get back to what you were doing.
That all sounds great, but why don't more people drink them here? I think it's because most brewpubs charge standard prices for them. Are you willing to repeatedly pay full-price for 3.2% abv beer? We're not going to make the same pricing mistake.
All of this background brings me to the real purpose of this post, which is to describe my first test batch. My intent was to brew a beer with a light copper color, a sweet/bitter balance that leans very slightly toward bitterness, about 3.2% abv and enough body to avoid the common watery mouthfeel of many session beers. Aside from being brewed with all organic ingredients, it's modeled after a traditional style of English ale that you can only buy on draught (as far as I know). Once the beer was ready, I had a few highly qualified sensory analysts - aka friends - try it and give me their honest thoughts. The response was very positive and the group confirmed that I accomplished most of my goals, aside from having a more dominant hop flavor than I wanted. A note to brewers: adding your last hop addition 30 minutes from the end of the boil will still result in a strong flavor. Myth busted!