Session Beer: I still don’t care, but if I did…

At the risk of sounding like I actually care about what constitutes session beer, I feel the need to address my new theory on the subject. Please note, however, I stand behind my previous post and thesis: What is Session Beer? Who the f$&k cares!?

Everybody’s favorite English beer Loyalist, Ding, was falling all over himself in a recent post about Session Beer Day. He discovered that in the death throes of Prohibition, the Cullen-Harrison Act had legalized the sale of 3.2% ABW (4.0% ABV) beer, as it was thought to be a level too low for intoxicating the masses. This lines right up with Ding’s notion of the 4% session beer Maginot Line, which has heretofore been based on a historical analysis of major British breweries’ lowest ABV offerings.

Of course, I can only assume that the 73rd Congress soberly arrived at this ABV level after much deliberation, many hearings, and thoughtful consideration of scientific data – free from any considerations not in the best interests of the US populace. That’s a safe assumption, right? Then it must be THE watershed moment for US session beer. And therefore, for purposes of this post, I will concede this point and use it as a US session beer baseline.

Since the 1930s, however, the average American has increased in size, and likewise in the ability to process alcohol. This point can’t be argued. Our size increase has been well-documented and derided. And as best I can determine, the average US male has gone from 5’8″ 156 lbs in 1930 to a current 5’9″ and 194.7 lbs. How does this translate in terms of processing alcohol?

We’ll take Arthur, the average 1930s male: After 4 pints of 4% beer over 3 hours, Arthur’s BAC would be 0.057. This is clearly low enough for Arthur to safely maneuver his Deusenburg to go catch a “talkie”. Comparatively, we’ll take Steve, our average contemporary male: After 4 pints of 5% beer over the same time period, Steve’s BAC would be 0.057. What?!

I'll see your Keanu meme and raise you Alex Winter.

I’ll see your Keanu “Whoa” meme and raise you an Alex Winter.

So there you have it. For us husky Americans, session beer = 5% or less. What are the implications of my discovery? Absolutely nothing. Just choose whatever beer is appropriate to your circumstances – whatever the eff it’s called – and drink it. That is all.

*Paradoxically, Ding and I are so far apart on this topic, that we have reached a similar conclusion: US brewers should stop using the term “Session Beer”.

What is a Session Beer? Who the F$%k Cares!?

The Curmudgeon
This topic is of negligible interest to many, but apparently highly contentious for very few. So, it’s perfect for Scott’s crappy blog. This term “session beer” and the phrase “this beer is sessionable” have been popping up, with increasing frequency. I hate it. I am not sure why, and it’s probably not sane…but here goes:

The term “session beer” appears to be of British origin, and seems to mean that the beer is suitable for an extended, uninebriated period of moderate- to high-volume drinking. In the US, I have never heard anyone use the term “session” to describe any period of drinking. So, why would we start using such a fancy-pants derivative thereof?  Maybe the British do, but the word sounds so silly in this context. (It’s OK, British readers (if any). We say silly things, too. I lived in London for a year, and I encountered numerous cross-eyed looks from my American expressions.)

Of course, I have accepted many words of foreign origin relating to beer. But this one is utterly useless. It doesn’t tell me anything about the damn beer that the name, style, and ABV don’t tell me already. And quite frankly, I find it a bit paternalistic.

Even worse, there is no consensus on what it actually means. British beer colonialist, Dingsbeerblog, clings to a hoary notion of the session beer’s Maginot line, which is based in a meticulous analysis of the historical output of British brewers’ lowest strength beers (4% ABV or less). Ding’s logic is nearly the same as that employed by Latin-loving twits who have claimed for years that we shouldn’t split infinitives. Well, I’ll split infinitives if I want to fucking split infinitives. Likewise, if I accepted the term “session”, I would gladly call 21st Amendment’s 4.4 percent ABV Bitter American a session beer.

Beeradvocate tries to draw a somewhat arbitrary distinction, based on what ABV won’t cause the average individual to get loopy (5% or less). Beeradvocate even uses the term in a cutesy sentence that, if actually uttered by a man in a bar, would be deserving of a swift kick to the testicles.

And my favorite is from Aleheads, who essentially conclude that all beer is generally “sessionable”. Although, this begs the question: Why do we even need the damn word, then?

So, no more “session”. Just pick some beer appropriate for your circumstances (lower ABV before a job interview, while operating a front-end loader, or while juggling chainsaws…and higher for any other circumstance). Then, drink your damn beer, and stop fussing about what to call it. Then we can get on with debating more important topics like: Why do men have nipples? Is Khloe a real Kardashian? And are Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez for realzies?