RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
< Back to front page Text size +

The steady growth of session beers

Posted by Steve Greenlee  May 9, 2011 11:13 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

byun_gamebeer01_g.jpgGreat article on Advertising Age's website this morning about the growth of lower-alcohol craft beer. I've been predicting -- and hoping -- that the new trend in craft beer will be session beers, which are generally defined as those that contain no more than 4.5 or 5 percent alcohol by volume (some people insist that the threshold is 4 percent; they argue about this all the time on

Most of the attention on craft beer over the past several years has gone to beers with higher ABVs -- brews like Stone's Arrogant Bastard (7.2 percent), Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA (9 percent), and Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout (13 percent). Great beers, yes. But one of those and you could be done for the night, so these kinds of beers are not exactly ideal for parties or gatherings.

Our big two local brewers -- Sam Adams and Harpoon -- have built their businesses on beers with ABVs around 5 percent, and it's heartening to see others following suit. My favorite new sessionable (to avoid arguments) beer is Mayflower Spring Hop Ale (5 percent), which is gone for the season but will be back toward the end of winter '12. I've also heard great things about Narragansett's new Summer Ale (4.2 percent). And there's a local brewer -- Notch, which brews in both Ipswich, Mass., and Kennebunk, Maine -- that makes nothing but beers under 4.5 percent ABV.

Session ales are what separate excellent brewers from fair ones: A mediocre beer can be disguised by its high alcohol content. A lousy 5 percent beer reveals itself. But an outstanding low-alcohol beer is something special.

(Globe photo by Yoon S. Byun)

Gary Dzen

About 99 Bottles

Gary Dzen writes about craft beer here and in the Globe when he's not covering the Celtics for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.

More blogs

By the glass

Women in beverage industry gather to inspire and support
At a recent gathering of women in the alcoholic beverage industry, the message was clear: To do great work, know yourself, operate with integrity,...


Thanks for Dishing with us
This blog is currently dormant. We enjoyed serving up recipes, news, and thoughts on food in this space. Thank you for reading....