How the term 'session beer' is abused by craft brewers

What is a session beer?


What is the definition of a session beer? 


I saw this question asked in a beer-oriented Facebook group and I thought it seems such an obvious question that it didn't need an answer but then I realized not everyone drinks like a fish! 

A session beer is oft considered to be a beer which has an alcohol content of around 4 to 5 percent ABV or less.

A session beer is not defined by flavours or aroma.

The concept of this is that in a 'session' of beer drinking, you won't get hammered by drinking 5 beers at 4 or 5 percent as you may just do if you have 5 beers at eight percent (although obviously the difference between four and five percent beers can quickly catch up with you, given the way alcohol accumulates in the body and affects the brain)

So basically before the rise of craft beer, most beers were session beers - as historically beers have been from 4 - 5 % ABV.

How did this expression come about?

You can thank our beer drinking friends in England when back in the day and when men were still men,  many industries had rules where men could drink on the job in approved drinking 'sessions'.

Given their employers didn't want them getting hammered on the job, lower ABV 'pale ale' beers were consumed.

How times have changed!

But is this definition still true of craft beers?

And therein lies, the rub - the word session for beer has been totally abused by many craft brewers and their promotional campaigns and now it feels like every damn beer is pitched to beer drinkers as being a session beer. 

Even beer reviewers have started to throw it into their articles as if it adds a sense of romanticism to beer.

It doesn't and it devalues the meaning of the concept.

So a session beer is historically a beer of traditional strength which you can several glasses of in the course of an occasion. The more modern craft beer meaning of a session beer is any beer! It often seems to just be marketing verbiage or puffery.

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