Big Beers Going Busto?

The NYT confronts an issue that has been plaguing me for years now — why so many high-alcohol brews? For a decade or so, beer has experienced an alcohol-content creep. Go into a restaurant or bar with a good beer selection and they'll likely print the ABV percentage on the list. People adore the idea of knocking back a Canadian pseudo-Belgian triple with 8, 10, or 12 percent alcohol. Me? I'm tired of it.

The new style of lower alcohol — often lower than mass-market domestic lagers, around 4% — is called session beer, meaning you can down several in a single session at the pub. Craft brewers and restaurants are, slowly, getting behind the trend.

Besides the benefit of being able to drink more with fewer harmful effects, this also serves as a challenge to brewmasters. Can they make beer that has interesting, intricate flavors without resorting to multiple fermentations or in-your-face weight? Sure they can.

Will people buy them? Eventually, I hope. Then again, one dejected softball player summed up his own personal feelings thusly: “I wanted a stout, and I don’t want a 3.7,” he said. “We lost by 12 runs tonight.”

Anyway, I'm tired of the standard Belgian and Belgian-esque beers that tend to dominate fancy beer lists. Although there are variations in flavor and style, they all have that same, unctuous extraction that tends to tire me out, physically and psychologically. But don't blame the Belgians, most of them aren't downing hefty triples during business lunches. They have their own versions of session beers.

Lets raise one — or three, I guess — to session beers.

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