Two years go I stumbled upon Petit Prince, a session ale with very low alcohol content brewed by the Jester King Brewery, outside of Austin. I used the discovery to launch a discussion on what makes beers sessionable, and why they were so hard to find.
Two weekends ago a trip to the Ginger Man introduced me to Brooklyn Brewery's new Half Ale, another session beer that clocks in at 3.4-percent ABV. I thought I'd use the pint to see how the session beer movement was coming along.
In short, it's not coming along at all. The availability of old favorite Petit Prince is withering, as Jester King Brewery shifts from distribution to on-site sales model. Ron Extract, who handles sales and nine-million other things for the brewery, recently told be the only way I'll find Jester King beers in Dallas is if they're tapped at a special event. And other than the Brooklyn Half Ale, there really haven't been any new additions, as far as I can tell that are available in Dallas.
Why do I care? Session beers are great because they allow you to quench your thirst with something that tastes delicious that won't knock you on your ass. There are plenty of times, say when my credit card bill arrives each month, when I want to go out and drop a 9-percent ABV Velvet Hammer on my brain, but sometimes I want a light beer for lunch that won't leave me with a need for an office hammock.
I set a threshold of 4.5-percent ABV (lots of brewers market beers as sessionable with a much higher octane, but you might as well be drinking a gin and tonic) and called a number of beer bars and beers stores around Dallas. The results were pretty dismal.
Stiegl Raddler Goes well with: Hot summer days, geriatric folks Where to find it: Blind Butcher
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Bud Light Goes well with: Desperation, low-calorie diets Where to find it: Everywhere
Obviously, the Bud Light bottle is a bit of a joke, but I think it's a shame that those looking for lower alcohol have to sacrifice flavor to such a degree -- especially when the craft brewing scene is experiencing such a renaissance.
If you see the Brooklyn Half on tap it's worth a try, and the Radler is a shandy, which dilutes beer with fruity soda to bring down the booze, but it's a refreshing (if sweet) summer beverage. But for now, here in Dallas, that's about all you've got.