“I could session on that.”

“That’s a sessionable drop.”

“I could sit on these for a whole session."

Session beers have been around for much longer than the term ‘session beer’. Whether you’re familiar with the term, or you’ve seen it around but have no idea what it means, no doubt you’ve had your fair share of them.

They’re the beers you drink when you want to have a few in a row without feeling disastrous after-effects. Maybe you’re hitting the pub with co-workers on Friday arvo, but want to keep your wits so you don’t say something that’ll come back to bite you on Monday. Maybe you’re pacing yourself while watching the cricket. Maybe you’re knocking back beers in the sun with friends, and you want that to last for as long as possible.

What makes it a session beer?

First things first: the phrase ‘session beer’ is used to describe certain beers, but it isn’t a beer style. It’s not defined by the ingredients, colours, or flavours of a beer. It’s simply a term that means you could drink several of these beers in a single drinking session and remain in a reasonable state.

Session beers are lower in alcohol. How low, you ask? Opinions differ. Some people insist that a beer must be below 4.5% ABV to be considered a session beer, while others would stretch the upper limit to 6%. Personally, I’d say if it’s below 5% you could count it as a session beer without a problem. Once it’s getting above that, you may find that your fourth or fifth beer lowers your inhibitions further than you’d like.

Session beers have a gentle flavour profile. When you’re looking to have a session on a certain beer, you’re not after palate-wrecking bitterness or teeth-scraping sourness. You want a beer where you can drink three and still think, “I could go another one of those.” 

Session beers are often described as ‘drinkable’ - another completely non-specific term that gets thrown around. They’re more approachable and less challenging. 

What should I expect?

If you see the word ‘session’ attached to a beer, you’re most likely looking at a pale ale or lager that’s 5% ABV or under.

If it’s a pale ale, you’ll probably get some soft fruity hop character and not much bitterness - enough for a flavoursome experience, but not so much that it knocks you around. If it’s a lager, each sip will be a hit of crisp refreshment that whisks off your tongue when it’s gone. 

Session Pale

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