Five New England Brews to Sip on Session Beer Day
Brazo Fuerte, Night Shift, Lost Nation, and others are embracing the notion that less is more when it comes to alcohol by volume.
This post was updated on April 7, 2017.
On April 7, beer drinkers across the United States celebrate the repeal of prohibition on beer, preempting the full repeal of the nation’s ban on alcohol in 1933. Such a holiday calls for a few brews. What a better way to celebrate than with sessionable beer? That’s what beer writer Lew Bryson thought in 2009, when he launched the Session Beer Project.
Session beer—any style that keeps its ABV under 4.5 percent, by Bryson’s definition—has been gaining traction since Massachusetts’ Notch Brewing launched the first all-session brewery in 2010. But as Bryson points out, the term is starting to be overused and oversold. Some of our favorite “sessions,” like Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ Super Session #2, and Aeronaut Brewing’s A Session With Dr. Nandu, have crossed the ABV threshold.
Here are five fresh takes, 4.5 percent or less, ranging from salty goses, to hoppy ales, to roasty dark beers. They’ll all help you remain upright while imbibing through a pitchers’ duel, the Boston Marathon, your high school friend’s wedding reception, and any other occasion when boozy beer just won’t do.
Brazo Fuerte Artisanal Beer
K-Wags Coconut Chocolate Brown Ale
Bev Armstrong started making her own beer because as an athlete, she was looking for something sessionable to drink with teammates and opponents after rugby matches. Now, the Watertown resident is brewing at a commercial facility in New Hampshire for the time being, and self-distributing to Craft Beer Cellar-Belmont, Haley.Henry Wine Bar, the Salty Pig, and more. When you see K-Wags, make sure to give it a try. With roasty chocolate malts, cocoa nibs, and toasted coconut added in, the ale will shatter your notions of a “dark beer.”
This year-round release nails the floral-salty-dry trifecta of the German style. The Vermont brewery started distributing in Massachusetts last year, so look for 16-ounce cans on a shelf near you.
Lost Nation Brewing, 87B Old Creamery Rd., Morrissville, Vt., 802-851-8041, lostnationbrewing.com.
Mayflower Brewing Co.
Daily Ration Session IPA
Founder Drew Brosseau claims lineage to the barrel cooper aboard the Mayflower, so of course his Plymouth brewery offers a low alcohol beer, a safer choice than drinking water on such an oceanic journey. Daily Ration, a citrusy, somewhat spicy, unfiltered IPA, is one of 12 beers Mayflower Brewing releases year-round in 12-ounces of aluminum. Its award-winning Belgian-style summer rye session (3.8%) is another superstar session to look out for later this year.
Mayflower Brewing Co., 12 Resnik Rd., Plymouth, 508-746-2674, mayflowerbrewing.com.
Night Shift Brewing
Cape Codder Weiss / Harborside Gose / Whirlpool Pale Ale
4.5% ABV / 4.1% ABV / 4.5% ABV
Look out for lingering bottles and brewery-only kegs of the winter seasonal Cape Codder Weiss, a tangy sour ale aged with cranberries and orange. Harborside, a salty, tart, and dry gose, will return this summer. The Island Creek oysters added kick up the style’s trademark brininess. Looking for something today? The go-to Whirlpool pale ale is a crushable 4.5 percent year-round.
87 Santilli Highway, Everett, 617-294-4233, nightshiftbrewing.com.
Chris Lohring’s all-session contract brewery was the first of its kind when he started it in 2010. Now, his crisp Czech-style pils is nearly ubiquitous at Boston beer bars, and the Salem taproom is a fun destination. The entire Notch lineup is a good option when you want to extend your night (or day) out, and the brewery is taking the low-alcohol party to Deep Ellum today.
Notch Brewing, opening at 283R Derby St., Salem, this summer, 978-238-9060, notchbrewing.com.