Roundup: Five session beers to sip without getting sloshed

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Around the holidays we naturally gather with family and friends, and a beverage or two is often part of the fun. Recent trends in craft beer have seen some push back against heavily hopped high-gravity brews. There’s certainly something to be said for an easy-drinking, low-alcohol beer that’s still flavorful. It’s often more remarkable to achieve this balance than it is to cover your mistakes with an extra handful of hops. Thus we have the session beer. The Brewer’s Association defines these beers as being no higher than 5.1% alcohol by volume, meaning you can enjoy multiple drinks in one session. Try seeking out these session beers for your next party.

Wolf’s Ridge Clear Sky cream ale | 5.1% ABV

Wolf’s Ridge has brought back the cream ale, a style rising in popularity before Prohibition. The top-fermented but cold-conditioned ale is a companion to the pale lager. There’s no cream in it; it’s just straight-up clear golden and tasty.

Have another pint: North High Brewing rotates a cream ale on tap, although it technically breaks the session ale mold at 5.7% ABV.

Founder’s All Day IPA | 4.7% ABV

In response to the surplus of double- and triple-IPAs on the market, a new crop of Session IPAs has arrived. They’re perfect for the hophead who would like to enjoy more than one beer while still being able to drive home. The challenge is not sacrificing the hop profile while keeping the alcohol low. Founder’s seems to have nailed the style almost better than anyone, and you can find the All Day IPA in bottles, cans and on tap.

Have another pint: Enjoy the Greenskeeper Session IPA at Land-Grant Brewery, too.

Mad Tree Lift kölsch | 4.7% ABV

Mad Tree began distributing its beer in cans to Columbus last week, and among the initial offerings is the Lift kölsch. This German style originating in Cologne (Köln) is a hybrid ale/lager usually fermented at warmer ale temperatures for a slightly fruity character, but then lagered at colder temps to produce a clean and somewhat grassy profile.

Have another pint: Zauber Brewery also nails the style with its Kitschy Kölsch.

Hoof Hearted Belloq | 4.2% ABV

It’s hard to believe Hoof Hearted could do a session beer, given its propensity for over-the-top beers with colorful descriptions. But even its rich coffee-infused English mild ale Belloq manages to balance out its chocolate and caramel flavors with a low alcohol percentage. Perhaps the buzz comes from the coffee instead?

Have another pint: Although there’s no coffee involved, North High Brewing’s Citra Smash also packs some big flavor while keeping within session beer boundaries.

Jackie O’s Firefly Amber Ale | 4.5% ABV

In addition to being a solid example of the amber ale, Jackie O’s Firefly is a terrific introduction to craft beer. If you’re headed into holiday parties surrounded by macro lager fans, a six-pack of Jackie O’s can help you win some converts to craft beer. Even if they don’t drink it, you’ll be able to knock back a couple while keeping up. Bonus: Buying Jackie O’s beers supports continued efforts to help Athens recover from the Union Street fire in November.

Have another pint: Barley’s Scottish ale is a similar gateway beer for the non-craft drinker, with a touch of sweet biscuit and caramel flavors.