Bucking the high-alcohol beer trend they helped create, many craft brewers are now embracing the subtle art of low-proof suds. It’s a style often referred to as session, because, much like the 70s-era Schaefer Beer slogan, these are beers to have when you’re having more than one.
A standard grocery-store soldier generally registers around 5 percent abv, but many of its craft counterparts hover between 8 and 12 percent. And for good reason: “It’s easier to create more flavors with stronger beers,” says Lew Bryson, a beer author who believes brews don’t need to top the 5-percent mark. Low alcohol doesn’t have to mean bland, big brand lagers. You can have flavors in these easy drinkers, it’s just harder to pull off.
Chris Lohring, founder of Notch Brewing in Boston agrees. “But most innovation happens when there’s a limitation,” he says. While making beer that drinkers consume more of is good for sales, Lohring says what’s really driving this trend is that challenge to bring nuance to the session style. The gauntlet has been thrown down, as it were, and brewers are picking it up. And it’s a worthy goal, he says. “Craft beer enhances our time together; session beer extends it. And who doesn’t want to extend the good times?”
Here are five tasty low-booze beers to try (above photo, from left to right):
Founders All Day IPA (abv: 4.7%)
Notch Brewing Session Pils (abv: 4%)
Evil Twin Bikini Beer (abv: 2.7%)
Guineu Riner (abv: 2.8%)
Jester King Le Petit Prince (abv: 2.9%)