The definition of “session beer” is open-ended. Essentially, it’s any low-alcohol beer (typically 5% ABV or under) that can be imbibed over and over in a single session without intoxicating the drinker beyond all comprehension. While the idea of session beers are somewhat new, they’ve actually been on American liquor store shelves for many, many decades—it’s just that, back then, it was simply called “beer.”
When craft breweries took to the scene, the market was saturated with bland, barely-alcoholic adjunct lagers and the pioneers of craft beer needed to differentiate themselves. They achieved this goal via diverse means but one tactic was to brew beer at a higher alcohol content. Strong beers became the standard for craft beer and led some uninitiated drinkers to believe low alcohol meant low flavor. Nowadays, however, the movers and shakers of craft beer are once again challenging perceptions by offering session ales and lagers as flavorful as beers twice their alcohol content. One such offering is Great Divide Brewing Co.’s session IPA, Lasso (5% ABV).
Color: Exceptionally clear, Lasso is orange, brassy, goldenrod, or light amber in appearance. It is topped with eggshell-white foam.
Aroma: Mild pine scents waft forth and intermingle with tinges of citrus fruit. The pine is most prevalent, though, even if it is faint; it’s not like a coniferous forest but it’s at least like a city park.
Taste: A zest of citrus starts off the sip and subsides to a touch of pine resin. There’s a spark of bitterness but it dies away before building up too much power; it’s an initial five seconds of powerful bitterness that lingers longer and longer as one drinks but never dominates.
Mouthfeel: Lasso finishes quite dry, leaves the mouth feeling a tad leathery. It’s medium-light in body.
Big things come in small packages and Lasso proves the adage; it doesn’t need a high ABV to deliver the goods, it only needs an open-minded drinker that’s willing to give it a shot. For the beer geek that wants the bite of an IPA but not the motor-skill-reducing effects of the typical IPA’s 5.5-7.5% ABV, Lasso is the answer.