It’s the 4th of July weekend again, and even some of our best wine customers are drinking beer. What could be more American than burgers, sausages and hot dogs sizzling on the grill, and a can/bottle/glass of cold suds in your hand? On a warm summer day out on the deck, nothing is more refreshing.
But for craft beer drinkers, and even wine drinkers that crave more flavor than one can get from a typical mass produced lager, a 7.5% ABV pale ale is a little too strong for a day in the sun. Two or three bottles of IPA, and most people would be ready for a nap. So, what’s the solution?
Welcome to the world of Session Beers. Session Beers are full flavored Craft Beers with the alcohol content of a mass produced beer (usually around 5.0% ABV) or even mass produced light beer (usually around 4.2% ABV).
While the term “session” may be new, the concept is not. Farmhouse Ales, or Saisons, were originally low alcohol beers for farm workers to drink when clean drinking water was unavailable. Shandys, or Radlers, were created as a way to “water down” beer for German Bicyclists in the early 20th century.
We have a full selection of Session Beers in a variety of styles. The following is all currently available (as of 7/4/15) in the Acton Store (and most are available at the Marlboro Store as well), and new ones are being released all the time. Prices and availability are subject to change.
– 21st Amendment Down to Earth Session IPA – 4.4% ABV
$11.99+ Deposit/ 6 pack cans
– Cambridge Brewing Co. Remain in Light Hoppy Pilsner – 5.0% ABV
$10.99+ Deposit/ 6 pack cans
– Firestone Walker Easy Jack IPA (Staff Favorite) – 4.5% ABV
$10.69+ Deposit/ 6 pack cans
– Founder’s All Day IPA Session Ale – 4.7% ABV
$12.49+ Deposit/ 6 pack bottles, or $19.99+ Deposit/ 18 pack cans
– Jack’s Abby Jabby Brau Session Lager – 4.5% ABV
$9.99+ Deposit/ 6 pack bottles
– Lagunitas DayTime Fractional IPA – 4.65% ABV
$10.69+ Deposit/ 6 pack bottles
– Mayflower Brewing Daily Ration Hoppy American Ale – 4.5% ABV
$11.99+ Deposit/ 6 pack bottles
– North Coast Brewing Co. Puck the Beer Petite Saison – 4.0% ABV
$10.29+ Deposit/ 4 pack bottles
– Notch Brewing Left of the Dial IPA – 4.3% ABV
$10.49+ Deposit/ 6 pack cans
– Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA – 4.9% ABV
$11.49+ Deposit/ 6 pack cans, or $18.39+ Deposit/ 12 pack cans
– Otter Creek Over Easy Hop Soaked Session Ale – 4.6% ABV
$10.99+ Deposit/ 6 pack bottles
– Peak Organic Summer Session Ale – 4.4% ABV
$11.49+ Deposit/ 6 pack bottles
– Samuel Adams Rebel Rider Session IPA – 4.5% ABV
$10.49+ Deposit/ 6 pack bottles, or $17.39+ Deposit/ 12 pack bottles
– The People’s Pint Training Wheels Session IPA – 4.5% ABV
$5.75+ Deposit/ 22oz. bottle
– Two Roads Lil’ Heaven Session IPA – 4.8% ABV
$18.99+ Deposit/ 12 pack cans
Cans are where it’s at, period. That is if you enjoying drinking beer in the most fresh way possible? Buying a big, high ABV beer to cellar to cellar is one thing but when it comes to beers that fade fast the can business is where craft beer is heading.
Talk to any brewer and they will tell you that they prefer you drink their beer from a can. To truly enjoy a hop forward beer, an IPA lets say, you need to be drinking from a can. Not believing that is similar to believing the world is flat. It’s just not true. This isn’t your granddad’s Pabst Blue Ribbon. Long gone are the days of tin plated cans. Today cans are 30% lighter than in previous decades and made from different alloys, mostly aluminum. No more “metal taste” to a can of beer. Cans today have a non-permeable polymer membrane lining the inside of the can. Instead of beer on metal, today beer never touches the aluminum due to the membrane on the inside of the can. Cans are also hermetically sealed, meaning no air infiltration. Bottle caps slowly allow air into the bottle prematurely aging the contents of the bottle. When it comes to IPA’s this is a very, very bad thing.
Cans are also more outdoor friendly. Most beaches and pools do not allow glass bottle. Cans are easier to arrange and stack, making it easier to stick in your refrigerator. Cans are lighter, which is extremely important to backpackers where ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain.
So come on, jump on the common sense bandwagon and crack open a can. Whether you pour it into a glass or your mouth, cans are where it’s at. After all the number one rated beer in the world on Beeradvocate.com is a can (Alchemist Heady Topper) that plainly states on the side of the can to drink the beer directly from the can. Enjoy.
At Acton Wine & Spirit Co.(and Marlborro Wine & Spirit Co. as well) we love more than just wine. We have a couple of talented guys here who love beer. REALLY LOVE BEER. And they buy A LOT of beer. So much so that we have to do a little “thinning of the herd”
Starting right now we have ON SALE about 120 different Craft Beers. These are all marked with a red tag and the savings are significant (20% or more). We are including brews from Amager, De Proef, Mikkeller, Nogne-O, Lost Abbey, The Bruery & more… these are mostly available in very small quantities and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
We also have a new craft beer guy! His name is Xandre. He used to work for us, and just got back from a stint at Element Brewing Co. where he learned about brewing from the ground up. A lot of you will recognize Xandre from his time that he worked here before. We welcome Xandre and you can follow him at on Twitter at Xandre@ActonBottleShop.
When I first got into the beverage business I was told there were two kinds of beer; Lagers and Ales. I was told that the only difference between the two was the temperature at which the fermentation process took place. Ales were Top Fermented (at higher temperatures) and Lagers were Bottom Fermented (at lower temperatures) …and that was it. I took that information and I ran with it.
Now, this information isn’t necessarily incorrect, …more like incomplete. Like most people (see just about ANYTHING on Facebook for details), I fell victim to the old adage, “a little information can be a dangerous thing”. When I discovered just how deficient my knowledge on this subject was, I began to digest, both physically and figuratively, anything I could find on the subject. I discovered that it was in fact the type of yeast used (lager yeast or ale yeast) that determines the type of beer being made, and something deeper still; there was a third type of beer. Sour, or Wild beers that are made using indigenous yeast and spontaneous fermentation.
To those “in the know”, this information might seem very easy to gain access to, but it isn’t always so. For instance, doing a recent Google search for “types of beer”, I found four websites, on the first search page alone in which information on wild/sour beers is partial, non-existent or wildly inaccurate. Thebrewbros.com mentions a, “third rather obscure type of beer, called a Lambic, which is made only in Belgium”. While Lambics do come from Belgium, they are only one of many wild/sour beers that are brewed all over the world. Bendbrewfest.com lists Pilsners (a type of Lager) as the third type of beer, while listing Lambics and Gueuze (a blend of Lambics) as types of Ale. Differenttypesofbeer.com makes a minor mention of Lambics as being, “far less popular than Ales or Lagers”, and good ol’ Wikipedia makes no mention of them at all.
So, what’s my point? If you’re interested in learning about beer (or wine or spirits for that matter), or just looking to pick up a six pack for “the game”, it’s important to find good sources of information to help you make better and more informed choices. The number of choices available to us seems to grow more every day. My advice? Find a knowledgeable, experienced beer guy (even if it’s not one of ours) that is passionate about his craft. I’ve learned in almost 20 years in the business, that it’s passion that instills us with a hunger to experience and learn as much as we possibly can; and then share. Real beer guys like to share; both information and beer.
We are very fortunate to have a great beer guy in each of our stores; Tony in Acton and Jeff in Marlboro. From personal experience I can tell you that both are passionate, and both LOVE to share.
– Roger Waxman
First off, as always, a little history lesson. The term Abbey is derived from the word Abbot which is the title given to the head of a Monastery. The term Abbey Ale simply refers to a beer made in a Monastic tradition. Some of these monasteries were of the Trappist order from La Trappe, France. Trappist monasteries have their foundation in the Benedictine tradition of manual labor and self-sufficiency, which still holds true to this day. Many of these Trappist monasteries had or built breweries to feed themselves and their local communities. After all beer is liquid bread.
Flash forward to today. There are only ten active Trappist breweries in the world. One of which is St. Josephs Abbey is Spencer Massachusetts. To qualify as a Trappist beer it must meet several criteria. The beer must be brewed within the walls of the monastery. Benedictine lifestyle tradition must take precedence over brewing. The brewery must not be a profit making venture. Profits from the brewing may only be used to maintain the Benedictine Trappist lifestyle and the brewery. All other profits must be given to charity. The beer must be brewed by or overseen by monks. The beer must also be brewed to the highest Trappist standards. All these criteria are overseen by the International Trappist Association or ITA.
So what does this all mean? The St. Josephs abbey was founded in 1950 and despite it’s relative youth the “Spencer Abbey” beer is steeped in 400 years of artisan brewing tradition. One thing to remember when you are sipping the last drops of golden, fruity, yeasty deliciousness from the bottom of you glass, you can rest assured that the locals communities in and around Spencer Massachusetts will be benefiting from your pleasure and not some faceless mega beer company that only care about their share holders.
That, in my opinion, is why the Spencer Abbey beer is so special.
The first documented use of Hops(Humulus Lupulus) as a flavoring agent was in the 11th century in Europe. However, Hop cultivation can be traced back to the 8th century in China. Like gunpowder and pasta, Hop cultivation migrated west via missionaries and trade. Hops were not the primary bittering agent used to flavor beer in those early days. Gruit, which is a bitter mixture of herbs and spices, was most often used to bitter and flavor beer in lieu of Hops. During the 13th century taxes were levied against Gruit so brewers began using Hops as a way to get around paying the taxes. Thus the “modern” beer was born(hops, water, malt, and yeast).
Hops are a robust, almost invasive, climbing plant. Seedless female Hops are the desirable type used in brewing today. Hops prefer moist temperate climates like Germany, England, and the Pacific Northwest. This also explains the importance of those places in beer culture.
Hops do several things for beer: they add flavor, yum, and act as a antibacterial stabilizing agent that aids in fermentation. Hops have two primary acids in them: Alpha and Beta. Alpha acids mitigate and inhibit the fermenting beer from bacterial infection while enhancing the bitterness of the beer. Beta Acids do not effect the flavor as much as they enhance the aroma/nose of the beer. That’s why Hop forward beers, if not a majority of beer styles, often have several varieties of Hops in them. Some varieties of hops are high alpha and low beta or low alpha and high beta and everywhere in between. Varying the quantities and varieties of Hops used in brewing ultimately effects the IBU’s(International Bitterness Units or bitterness), pallet, and aroma. Brewing is just like cooking or baking. Finding the harmony between ingredients is the true mastery of the trade craft.
In a nutshell, this is why Hops are in Beer.
We have a late addition to this month’s sale! All LONG TRAIL 12 pack bottles are on sale for $12.99 +deposit!