Contrary to what some might believe, session beers are nothing new, and they’re not part of a modern trend. Centuries ago, when the terms “beer” and “ale” actually meant different things, unhopped and low-hopped mild ales were common, even if the term “session” wasn’t a part of the vernacular. And since then, relatively low-alcohol beers have more or less ruled until recent times.
High-alcohol beers hardly raise eyebrows nowadays, but let’s not forget that just a decade or two ago, Samichlaus, with its mere 14 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), was the strongest beer in the world. Of course, a fury of super-high-alcohol beers quickly ratcheted the strongest beer in the world up to meteoric heights, but that’s another story.
Even though they never really left, some say session beers are making a comeback. And, empirically speaking, it would seem that way, as just about every brewery seems to be making a “session IPA” or a “session saison” these days. The modern focus, however, has shifted from bland, low-alcohol beers to flavorful, low-alcohol beers, and some have a surprisingly full texture to match.
Most agree that session beers should be low in alcohol (so that you can drink many of them in a row, or in one beer-drinking “session”) and easy to drink (i.e., not too strong or harsh, not too thick or cloying, not overly bitter or excessively roasted, etc.). Determining exactly where to draw those lines is where the debates surface.
Enter Mavericks Brewing, a new player in this field, and one that’s dedicating its initial lineup to session beers. Based in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Mavericks Brewing, the sister company to Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, has recently released two beers, Rye Pale Ale and Belgian Style Wit, and it will be releasing Chocolate Porter this fall. All three have a super-low alcohol level of just 3.75 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
[“3-2 beer” contains 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (ABW), which is equal to about 4 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Mavericks’ 3.75% ABV beers equate to about 3% ABW, so they have less alcohol than 3-2 beers.]
According to the company, the first three craft beers are designed for the active and adventurous individual who seeks out a delicious full-bodied canned beer with less alcohol, so that their daily activities like surfing, cycling, or running aren’t hindered by a tasty pit-stop.
“I am extremely excited to unveil these first three beers from Mavericks Brewing in cans just in time for summer,” said Head Brewer Shane Aldrich. “As an avid outdoorsman, I wanted to create low-alcohol craft beers that can be enjoyed anywhere from the beach to rafting down a river to a family barbecue. Mavericks is the ideal choice for those who crave flavorful beers but also lead active outdoor lifestyles.”
Mavericks Brewing takes its name from the legendary big-wave surf spot and invitational surfing contest in Half Moon Bay, which is widely considered to be the most exclusive and daring in the world. For its launch, the company is partnering with the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the world's waves and beaches through conservation and activism.
BELGIAN STYLE WIT
This Belgian-style wit, or “white,” is a refreshing beer brewed with barley and wheat malts and spiced with sweet and bitter orange, coriander and lemon. For a sub-4-percent beer, it bursts with flavors and aromas, and it’s incredibly easy to drink. Delicate yeast esters provide hints of clove and white pepper. It finishes clean and dry.
RYE PALE ALE
Rye Pale Ale is made with Cascade and Chinook hops and 20 percent rye malt, in addition to traditional barley malts, which come together wonderfully. The beer is creamy-smooth with a lively carbonation. It has a subtle, honey-like sweetness with hints of caramel and toffee, plus a toasted, spicy rye accent that melds nicely with a citrusy hop bitterness. All of this culminates into a highly quaffable brew.
Chocolate Porter is a rich, smooth and creamy beer brewed with a special blend of dark barley malts, roasted cocoa nibs, and a hint of vanilla, providing a sweet yet savory drinking experience.
For more information about Mavericks Brewing, visit mavericksbeer.com.