I've been hearing a lot of talk about "session beers". I had an ill-defined idea of what this meant, so today I sat down for a session to figure it out.
In a nutshell, a session beer is one that is less than 5% ABV (alcohol by volume). The reason for this is simple - a session beer meant to be drunk over a period of time without the drinker becoming drunk, or having "their legs taken out from under them". Ostensibly, the lower the ABV, the more you can drink. Of course some of why alcohol affects people differently depends on factors outside of the alcohol content of the beer, but it's a good gauge and it seems that around 5% is a pretty good number for the majority of people.
Another feature of a session beer is a balance between the hops and malts. In addition to not getting the drinker drunk, a session beer is not meant to overwhelm the palate, which is where the balance of flavors comes in.
While session beers are a different breed than some of the more extreme beers available today (and you know I like plenty of them!), I'd like to point out that these beers - of which there are literally thousands - are quite tasty in their own right. They may not have you exclaiming about how wonderful they are while you're drinking it, but that's another point about them - you're supposed to be able to drink a session beer without feeling like you want to talk about it.
Finally, session beers are typically more reasonably priced than a lot of the big beers.
For my money, anything that I can drink for a while, without worrying about getting drunk, and at a decent price is something that I can stand behind.