July 24, 2013 0 comments
A new article in TIME Magazine discusses a trend in brewing that we have been expecting for some time now – the increasing emergence of session beers in the U.S. market. Highlighting the efforts of Redhook Brewery in Washington state, it notes the introduction of their new, Game Changer - new pale ale that’s been freshly put on tap at 925 U.S. locations of the Buffalo Wild Wings chain. The target point is just a little higher than a mass-produced domestic beer, and slightly less than your typical high-end craft beer.

“It’s an approachable craft beer that’s not too heavy or too high in alcohol, so people can enjoy drinking it responsibly over the course of a whole game,” says Andy Thomas, president of the Craft Brew Alliance, which owns Redhook.

 Meanwhile, Patrick Kirk, beverage-innovation director for Buffalo Wild Wings, explained why the chain wanted its own special craft beer, and why it was important for the beer to be sessionable:

“We’ve seen an interesting trend, a movement toward craft beers coming back down to be more sessionable, brewed with lower alcohol and an easy-to-drink mentality. That’s what our guest is demanding. If you’re going to stay for a game from kick-off to the end, you can’t really drink beers with 6% or 7% ABV throughout the game. It’s not possible from a responsible service and consumption standpoint, as well as from flavor perspective and a cost standpoint. But you need great flavor. The goal was to not be fully in the craft camp but to be a step up from domestics, and brew a well-balanced, full-flavored beer that hits the middle between 4% and 5% ABV. Game Changer is at 4.6% ABV, so it’s definitely sessionable.”
You can read more of the article here. It discusses a lot of other issues, like the ongoing controversy about what makes a beer a craft beer, anyway. Suffice to say I think we’ll see more of this type of thing as time goes on, because the truth is, no responsible person can go out and drink 7.5% IPAs all night long.
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Summer is traditionally the time of year when I trade in my brown ales, stouts and IPA’s for lighter beers that allow me to hold up a little better in the heat. Over the years, I’ve come to pay attention to what’s in my glass…remembering times in the past when a combination of too much beer and too much sun would put me out of commission for a day or more. If you’ve ever had a bout of beer-induced sunstroke, the memory will stick with you for a long time.

This is the reason why I gravitate to the inevitable Corona, or Modelo, or Pacifico, or Land Shark – or even a Bud Light Lime during the summer months. In particular, I’ve found that there’s something about beers brewed south-of-the-border that helps me avoid the brutal effects of sun-and-suds – so a long afternoon floating in the pool, listening to ska or reggae…and knocking back a bottle or ten doesn’t seem to have any ill effects.

I’ve also found that what makes this even more palatable is adding lemonade to my beer. The proportion may vary, but a 1-part lemonade to 5-parts beer ratio is fine – and I’ve even gone as high as 1:3 on a VERY hot day. “What about bottled Shandys?” - you say?

“We don’t need no stinking shandys…”

Actually, I have bought a few. I’ve found Sam Adams’ Porch Rocker to be pretty good. Leinenkugel’s Shandy is utterly awful (the lemon taste is very chemical – more akin to a cough drop). One of my favorites – Stiegl - is actually a true radler, made with lemon soda – and it is very, very good. I always show up with a few of these at my best friend’s annual Luau and they are always a hit.

Of course, any quality German Lager or Helles will do just fine – though I am less likely to add lemonade to a beer of very high quality with a comparatively delicate taste. On a slightly different note, I recently sampled a Newcastle Blonde Bombshell on a recent Saturday afternoon in the pool and found it to be very fine indeed.

I know I’m not alone in this warm-weather adjustment. As much as I love a cool Guinness, a well-balanced IPA or a delicious Spaten Optimator, I am just not going to drink much of that stuff when it’s 85 degrees outside and I am sweating buckets after moving the lawn and pulling weeds.

Let us know what your summertime favorites are.
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Believe it or not, I've yet to make it to Blues & Brews in downtown Akron - but this is the year I plan to rectify that mistake and enjoy some of the 200 beers from 80 brewers that will be featured. Now in it's ninth year, the beer celebration is one of the biggest beer fests in the state, attracting a number of brewers from across the country and even further.

In addition to Ohio regulars such as Great Lakes, Hoppin’ Frog, Cornerstone, Buckeye, Willoughby, and Fat Head’s, Blues & Brews also will feature a number of other other new breweries like Millersburg Brewing from Millersburg, Portside Distillery from Cleveland, 50 West Brewing from Cincinnati and Listermann Brewing from Cincinnati.

Sponsored by Acme Fresh Markets, The Winking Lizard and Thirsty Dog Brewing, the event promises to be the highlight of the Beer Year in Akron and hop-fully the weather will hold out. The event runs from 2 to 6 p.m. General admission tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the gate. Brewer’s Circle tickets, which allow you into the event at noon and include special beers and food, are $55 in advance or $60 at the door. Live music will be provided by Freddie Salem & Lonewolf, The Billie Smith Band and The Juke Hounds.

To find out more - check out the story on
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