July 24, 2013
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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