Headed your way soon is 21st Amendment Brewing’s newest concoction “Bitter American”. This seasonal release intends to take an American beer style and lower the abv. Here’s a little beer geek background on this. There is a long going debate about session beers on Twitter & various beer forums. Some say the English defined it years ago at 4% or less. Some argue it’s 5% or less. (I’m not jumping into this. Those are the sides.) English bitter is actually a beer style, with an abv range of 3%-5%. Popular in England of course. Stay with me here. The American IPA is easily one of the most popular styles in the U.S, however it’s not very sessionable, as they are typically well above 6%. Bitter American seeks to change this. It’s an IPA with all the hops & flavor, with a much lower abv. (4.4%) Shawn O’Sullivan bragged recently on Twitter that Bitter American is one of best beers they have ever brewed. Check out 21A’s blog post about this release:
From 21A’s Website:
Our Bitter American session ale is about to hit your good beer bars and stores, coming in at 4.4% ABV, 42 IBUs, with full hoppy flavors that you would find in an India Pale Ale. We use this amazing malt, Golden Promise, from Simpson’s out of the UK that gives this beer a nice malt complexity without adding too much sweetness. This is our late winter seasonal offering from January through March a time when we are all enjoying the big beers of this season; sometimes you need a moment of clarity in the sea of strong beers.
Why a session IPA? Well a few years back after looking around at the trend where India Pale Ales were headed toward the bigger, bitterer hoppier, stronger end of the arc, we thought how cool would it be to make an IPA that you could drink a few more than an Imperial/Double or Triple IPA. The bigger beers are fun to enjoy, but they sometimes get you in trouble with your significant other, the floor below your bar stool or the morning after for that matter.
The concept of the “Session IPA” or “Nor Cal Bitter” as brewer Rodger Davis from Triple Rock has coined is something that has started to gain popularity with good beer drinkers and might be an artifact of the brewer’s world as we age (gracefully of course) and require lower alcohol beers. Those big IPAs are not going anywhere nor should they, we all need hops and lots of them, but the session ale is starting to make a come back.
As most of the craft beer tradition and practices in the United States stemmed from the UK, session ale originated across the pond as well. In England session beer is a style that is lower in alcohol, whereby you can enjoy many in a single beer drinking ‘session.’ This story is from the good folks at Beer Advocate giving some insight into where the phase “Drinking Session” may have originated:
“The Drinking Session
A British expat and buddy of ours in California once suggested that a “session” referred to one of the two allowable drinking periods in England that were imposed on shell production workers during World War I. Typically the licensed sessions were 11am-3pm and 7pm-11pm, and apparently continued up until the Liquor Licensing Act 1988 was introduced. Workers would find a beer that they could adequately quaff within these restrictive 4-hour “sessions” that were laid down by the government without getting legless and return to work or not get arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Now he could be full of shite, but we’ve found some smatterings of info to back this up and it sounds like a fine origin of the term to us.”
Now go out and get one or two or three or…I can keep going with this…
Thanks for your support,
Shaun and Nico
Arrival: Late January- Early February 2011