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Tag Archives: session beer

Giving thanks

Brian Eaton at Grist House: Thankful for session beers.

Brian Eaton at Grist House: Thankful for session beers.

If you’re here, it’s probably safe for me to assume that you’re thankful for craft beer.

It’s also safe to assume that the folks who work in the business — from distributors to brewers to bar managers — are pretty thankful for craft beer as well.

IĀ asked a handful of our friends in the business to explain what they’re thankful for this Thanksgiving week … and I got anything but a bunch of canned, boring responses. And I added my own two cents at the end; spoiler alert: I’m mostly thankful for you guys, because you’re why we continue to do the show.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend, everyone.

Searching for session beers

Let’s be clear about one thing right off the top — I’m definitely a big fan of big beer.

But I love little beer too, especially since more breweries are putting an emphasis on making their lower-alcohol offerings as flavorful as possible. It’s a big enough deal that the trend has its own name — session beer, or beers that have low alcohol by volume without sacrificing flavor.

Why do session beers work? There are plenty of instances when cutting back on the amount of alcohol you’re consuming is a good idea, and if beer drinkers can accomplish that without losing the character and flavor that makes craft beer enjoyable, everyone comes out on top.

Just a few years ago, it would have been a little tough to track down a solid, locally produced session beer. That’s not the case today, though; I found two great options at Rock Bottom in Homestead, where brewmaster Brandon McCarthy — that’s him in the photo above — was happy to discuss how session beers gives his customers a chance to sample new flavors and styles without worrying about getting too sloppy during an afternoon shopping trip at the Waterfront.

Session beers have been at the forefront of Scott Smith’s mind pretty much since he opened East End Brewing; after some experimenting, he came up with a nut brown ale recipe that suited its namesake: Fat Gary. Mr. Smith has even established a session beer series of seasonals and one-offs, all with ABVs below 5 percent.

And as patrons of Piper’s Pub can attest, there are always several sessionable options available, a boon to those who are watching a Premier League football match or two.

That’s not even close to all of the options that are available, whether they’re locally produced or showing up at local distributors. So the next time you’re out for dinner, ask about what session beers are available. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’re missing. And what you’re not.

Post-Gazette coverage of session beer: