I’ll admit it – I’m not the spring chicken that I once was. There was a time when I had no interest in beers with an ABV below 8%. All I wanted were boozy, toe curling brews that hammered my face with flavor. But then something happened. I got old, and have begun to appreciate beers of a gentler nature.
This transformation hasn’t happen overnight, it’s been a process. It started as I gained experience as a beer geek. Once I had tasted all the big beers, I began to occasionally explore the lighter fare, mostly out of curiosity. My “a-ha” moment came when I tasted Victory Prima Pils, a 5.3% ABV German-styled pilsner that manages to be crisp and refreshing but still packs in a ton of flavor. More and more, I craved the serene (sorry for using this next word) drinkability of Prima Pils and it became my weekend filler beer. The big boozers still were the feature performers on a Saturday night, but my list of “go-to” beers began to become more docile.
Then I met Lew Bryson, champion of the session beer. Lew was pretty fired up (his natural state), talking about how a beer doesn’t have to be gonzo to be great, that the craft beer trend of “bigger is better” kind of misses the point of beer, which is made to enjoy with friends, not make you dizzy. I’m paraphrasing here, but it turns out that Lew’s take on session beers sunk in and I began to see them a bit differently.
The final step in my true appreciation for session beers happened last night. I had a six pack of Victory Summer Love lingering in the fridge, a Blonde Ale that has a hop profile similar to Prima Pils, yet is a bit mellower around the edges and has a lighter mouthfeel. The way I taste it, it’s an even gentler version of my go-to session beer. Anyway, I had other bigger beers on hand, but I didn’t want them – they seemed like too much work. I wanted something easy and friendly that wouldn’t punish me in the morning. I wanted – I craved – a session beer. That’s a first for me.
With age and experience comes wisdom, and I’ve finally come to realize that a well made session beer offers a subtle charm that the bigger beers can’t match. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want drama, I just want fun. I don’t want to shout, I just want to chat. I don’t want to get hammered, I just want to unwind. Session beers now have a place in my heart, and are perfect for sitting out front of my house on a summer’s eve, waiting for some neighborhood kids to come by so I can yell at them to get off my damn lawn. 😡
So that’s my take on it. I attribute my burgeoning appreciation for gentler beers with my burgeoning accumulation of birthdays. Older, wiser, tamer, lamer, and it’s all good.
Do you agree? Are session beers for old duffers, or just for the enlightened beer geek? Or perhaps just for metrosexual Mini Cooper pilots? As always, let us know below…