Session beers are an often overlooked group of beers in the craft beer community. It seems that often the craft beer drinkers want to push the envelope of their palate by buying complex, overly hopped, and/or high alcohol beer. I have to admit I typically fall into this category, but over the last year I have began to appreciate the small subtler beers in life, the session beer. A session beer does not have an exact definition or style parameter. It does have a few loosely defined characteristics. Some purists think that a session beer should be less than 4%, some think 4.5% is a better cut off number for US drinkers. The Zythofile blog recently published “How Old is the Term ‘Session Beer‘” and says it’s perhaps a bit more subjective…”So – there’s no rule that says session beers HAVE to be 4 per cent or lower, merely personal prejudice/preference, any cut-off level at all over what constitutes/does not constitute a “session beer” is going to be arbitrary, though personally I would suck my teeth and shake my head at anyone who suggested a beer over 4.5 per cent was a “session” brew, and my own view is to regard beers of 3.8 per cent and below as “truly” sessionable.” Our own Eric Steen agrees that 4% or less should be the rule.

Nevertheless, the GABF “session beer” category is defined as beers between 4-5.1% and we’ll stick to that for the sake of this post. Session beers should be equally balanced with high drinkability. They are meant for the consumer to enjoy multiple beers over a course of a “session” (a few hours perhaps) without becoming intoxicated or full. With the advent of Session Beer Day approaching on April 7th, hopefully this post will be a guide for your beer purchases. Even though the Session Beer Day was intended by its founder to be for beers at 4.5% and less, I thought it would be worthwhile to mention 12 Colorado beers (call them near-session if you will) worth buying that fall into that GABF 4-5.1% definition.

These are beers you can buy in stores. Soon we’ll also post a few session beers that will be on tap at your local pub brewery on April 7th.

Brewery: Avery

Beer: Joe’s Pilsner
ABV: 4.7
Notes: A nicely hopped pilsner with noble German hops.


Brewery: Breckinridge
Beer: Agave Wheat

ABV: 4.2

Notes: Very light unfiltered wheat with sublte agave nector
Brewery: Bristol
Beer: Mass Transit

Style: Amber
ABV: 5

Notes: A balanced amber ale from Colorado Springs. Rich auburn color and smooth caramel nutty flavor.


Brewery: Crabtree
Beer: Berliner Weisse

Brewery: Dry Dock
Beer: Hefeweizen
ABV: 4.2
Notes: Some banana, little clove and very refreshing. It has won three GABF medals.


Brewery: Great Divide
Beer: Samurai
ABV: 5.1%
Notes: Slightly fruity, crisp, and refreshing. Contains rice and is unfiltered.

Brewery: Left Hand
Beer: Stranger

Style: American pale ale

ABV: 5
Notes: balanced light malt and citrus hops. A lighter version of the typical US pale ale.

Brewery: New Belgium
Beer: Shift

Style: pale lager

ABV: 5
Notes: A light slightly sweet malt with a good hop kick. This one comes in a four pack of 16 oz. cans.

Brewery: Odell
Beer:Easy Street Wheat
ABV: 4.6
Notes: American style wheat. It has some slight citrus notes.

Brewery: Ska
Beer: Mexican Lager
ABV: 4.2
Notes: Very light and refreshing beer with a nice Saaz hop bite.

Brewery: Twisted Pine
Beer: Billy’s chilies beer
ABV: 5
Notes: light bodied with five different types of chile’s that lends more flavor than heat.


Brewery: Upslope
Beer: Craft Lager
ABV: 4.8
Notes:Light refreshing crisp and clean, this lager is made with snowmelt, Czech Saaz hops and lager yeast.
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