Less is More with Metro Vancouver’s Best Session Ales

Posted on February 21, 2017

CityMash.com - As the demand for quality craft beer continues to run rampant throughout BC, there is a calling for big tasting lower alcohol ales to satisfy the masses. Metro Vancouver breweries are answering that call by producing some of the best session ales around.

Session ales are generally under 5% in alcohol by volume. As the name indicates, more beer can be consumed in a session without becoming overly intoxicated (therefore delaying the onset of karaoke sessions and inexplicable tryouts for So You Think You Can Dance).

Why session ales? Vancouverites who enjoy going out with friends or visiting their local watering hole want that time to last. While having a 9% imperial stout might seem like a good time, have two of those and that could be you, done for the night and heading home or off to The Roxy to find your soulmate.

Looking for a night out without calling your ex and professing your love one more time? Want to sip on a beer while watching the Canucks battle their way to overtime and a dragged-on shoot-out? Then session ales are where it’s at.

Central City Red Racer India Session Ale (ISA)

Released in 2014, Red Racer ISA hits the mark as a flavourful ale with less alcohol. It captures much of the hoppiness and fruit flavours of their popular Red Racer IPA while providing a lighter more refreshing taste. At 4% alcohol by volume, Red Racer ISA is a great go-to beer for an enjoyable sit-down session with friends. It’s available in cans and on tap throughout the Lower Mainland. Take your time. It’s a session; not a Race.

Strange Fellow Talisman West Coast Pale Ale

Strange Fellows Brewing Company hit the ground running in late 2014 introducing the delicious and sessionable Talisman Pale Ale. Hovering around 4% alcohol by volume, this cloudy light nectar is tropical, hoppy and will erase all preconceived ideas of what a session ale can be. It’s popping up on taps throughout many Vancouver establishments and, of course, is at the brewery itself on Clark Drive. It’s a session; keep it Strange.

Four Winds Brewing Featherweight India Pale Ale (IPA)

Delta’s award-winning Four Winds Brewing opened their doors in 2013. With many great beers and the accolades to go with them, they have scored with the Featherweight IPA, a light-version of the traditionally heavy IPA. It’s big on flavour for 4.5% and would challenge any non-cicerone to say it is a “light” beer.

With a tropical and hoppy tone, this IPA is a flavour bomb that does not overwhelm but instead is subtle and crisp with its finish. Featherweight IPA is available in bottles and on tap at a variety of Lower Mainland establishments. However, it is a limited, periodically-released beer that can be challenging to find at times. It’s a session. Have one, two or just have Four.

33 Acres of Life

So you’re not wanting the citrus, the hoppy or the tropical? Looking for a more traditional style? Vancouver’s 33 Acres Brewing Company has you covered. Not exactly a proper session ale, 33 Acres of Life is described as an ale-lager hybrid.

At 4.8%, this delicious beer will still give you the lower alcohol and big flavour of the aforementioned session ales while providing a more traditional malt taste. This red toned clear ale has hints of caramel and a crisp finish. 33 Acres of Life is available in small bottles and can be found on tap at locations throughout Vancouver including their tasting room on 8th Avenue. It’s a session. Choose Life. 

Did you know? The science community is getting on board with the benefits of session ales. A recent hypothesis from researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto questions whether dropping the alcohol percentage of beer can reduce the harmful effects of alcohol and improve public health in general.

According to studies, consumers were unreliable in determining the difference in taste between beers of different strengths. Lower Mainland breweries are proving that beers lower in alcohol can still be great tasting and give consumers more options.

Session Ales are a great way to extend a beer session and keep the party going. They’ll get you through a long hockey game (think optimistically about a Canucks triple OT playoff game) without compromising on great flavour.

Are we missing your favourite session beer? Let us know! We’re always on the lookout for the next big beer flavour – with a low alcohol percentage.

Norwegian-Canadian freelance writer and Registered Nurse living and working in Vancouver, Canada. Lesly's Husband, Canucks fan, Beer lover, Fitness enthusiast. You can find my ridiculous humour regularly on my blog where I write about health, fitness, lifestyle, travel, and more https://roygmundheim.wordpress.com/ More articles by Roy G. Mundheim
  • Alexandra Jones

    Great article! The benefit of lower alchohol beer is that you get to drink more of them!

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