Enjoying the sessions

Now that the weather has turned warmer, and the snow is gone, my taste buds move from the hearty dark beers of winter to the more refreshing summer session ales. Additionally, with running training in full swing I’m looking for malt refreshment that won’t bloat me up with too many calories, yet allow me to enjoy some good tasting brews (Miller Lite need not apply).

Session beers are the usual answer to my summer beer tasting and brewing. A nice 4-5% ABV, with a refreshing clean taste, is what I crave most of the time right now. Below are a few that are my favorites, including a couple new ones this year:

  • Founder’s All Day IPA – At 4.7% and low IBU’s for an IPA, All Day is a great summer beer. It’s got a smooth hop character with a perfect balance to the light malt.
  • New Belgium Slow Ride – This is New Belgium’s answer to Founder’s and it doesn’t disappoint. Ringing in at 4.5%, and only 40 IBU’s this beer is flavorful but smooth and easy drinking. Slow Ride does have a bit stronger malt character than All Day, and so it’s not quite as balanced, but it’s still a really nice beer.
  • Third Street Rise to the Top Cream Ale – I love this beer for an easy summer drinker. 4.1% ABV and only 15 IBU means it goes down super easy and always tastes nice and fresh. The German style hops give this beer a nice earthy character that really works with the simple malt bill.
  • Indeed Shenanigans – A slightly different take on a lighter Summer beer, Indeed incorporates a lot more citrus character into their signature Summer ale. At 5% ABV it’s at the higher end of sessionable ales, but the flavor profile doesn’t feel heavy at all.
  • Summit Hopvale – New this year is Summit’s organic Hopvale ale. I tried this for the first time recently and it was good enough to make this list. It pushes 4.7% ABV, and a solid dose of sour-y, bitter-y flavors makes this a unique tasting beer in the category, but it still finishes clean and is very refreshing.
  • Surly Hell – Although many of the beers above are ales, Surly comes onto my list with a light lager. Hell is a great summer beer with only 4.5% ABV and solid German lager flavor.

There are a bunch of darker session beers that I also enjoy, but I’ll save those for another list. Plus, I think my next homebrew will be my own cream ale to fill my kegs with light Summer beer goodness.