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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One More Post About Sessions

I was going to stop beating the drum for session beers--at least for a few days--until I had one last night at Deschutes that knocked my socks off. It's called "Experimental Cascade," and the experiment is dropping back their venerable Cascade Ale from 4.5% to 4%. As a bonus, it was dosed with late additions of Crystal and Amarillo hops. The result is easily one of the best small beers I've had--and a beer that can stand toe-to-toe with anything out there in terms of complexity and flavor.

The hops are what make it sing. Even though Deschutes miniaturized Cascade, they left the BUs at 28--which, even in a small beer isn't excessive. But those late additions give the beer a huge nose and intense hop flavor. Somewhere closer to the herbal side of things--coriander, cumin, pepper--they were also zesty without being citrusy. The lightly caramelly malt was on the dry side, and the beer finishes crisply--perfect moreishness. If this beer were regularly available, it would quickly become a mainstay of mine. A really wonderful treat. For those of you who admire the elegance of a well-made session, get over to Deschutes, stat.


  1. Maybe it's a disservice to call them small beers. Kinda has a bad vibe to it and probably not the best way to promote them. No one wants to walk into a bar and order a "small beer", that's like order up a "pink fluffy" or a "tickly fizz". I mean does 4% really deserve "small"? I've had bitters, stouts, porters and the like all at or under 4%, none had a wimpy "small" next to the name.

  2. I haven't been following the comments on your session threads, so someone may have already mentioned this. But a few months ago Horse Brass had an extremely tasty 4.2% beer from -- of all people -- Stone. San Diego County Session Ale. If you see it around town, get one, it, uh, tastes great and it's less filling.

  3. Please keep beating the session drum. Sessionable beers can change your whole outlook on the world. I find them to be some of the most flavorful and aromatic beers around. The best are truly complex - more complex in my opinion than the big beers or hop bombs.

  4. One beer that I like that is low Abv is the Stone Levitation ale at 4.4%

  5. @Bill: Not sure about the finished product, but Kelsey McNair's homebrew recipe, which SDCSA is based on, used an insane amount of late-kettle and dry hops. I believe his 5 gallon recipe used 2oz each of Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, Tomahawk (aka Columbus) and Simcoe, both at the end of the boil and again for dry-hopping.

    @Jeff: Beat away. I am starting 2011 off with a series of session-strength brews. My second attempt, a special bitter with a couple late Amarillo charges, is gurgling away happily right now.

    Beer and Coding