By Christopher Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The Season of Session
Now that summer is officially underway, it’s time to break out the barbecue and easy-drinking beers. Though there are several sessionable beer options on the market, as accomplished homebrewers, we have the skills and equipment to craft our very own summertime ales. Whether you’re out mowing the lawn, going on a camping trip or just enjoying the sun while sitting on your porch, crafting a tasty homebrew to suit the season makes all of these outdoor activities more enjoyable.
History of the Session
Session beers have been part of the brewing world since the beginning. Commonly referred to as small beers, sessions were the product of breweries running water through their mash tuns several times. This allowed them to use every drop of sugar from the grain. With each rinse, the beer’s alcohol content got lower and lower until they got into the range of a session, which is typically no higher than 5 percent ABV.
While there are still many questions surrounding the exact origin of the term “session beers,” many sources seem to point to Britain during World War I when the government imposed restrictions on when pubs could serve patrons. An individual could knock back several of these types of brews without getting drunk during one of the two drinking “sessions” that businesses were allowed to serve alcohol. Today, session beers are a tastier craft alternative to buying a briefcase of something we probably drank in college.
Process of Making a Session
The brewing process for a session beer is the same as it is for any normal style of beer you likely have experience with. The only difference is the ingredient list. To build your recipe, you don’t just want to reduce the amount of grain you’d include in a standard beer. That will only result in a watery, bland flavor. Instead, the best method to experiment with your first session is to use an IPA recipe you’re familiar with and then simply cut down the base malt or malt extra. That move will allow you to maintain all of the wonderful flavor but reduce the alcohol content. Since it is a lower-alcohol beer, it will not ferment as long, thus allowing you to have a sessionable beer ready just in time for the hottest part of the year.
Baby Elephants [AG]
Baby Elephants [Extract]
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.