10 Great California Session Beers


The general criteria for a Session Ale is that it is under 5% ABV (Alcohol by Volume).  Some pundits say it should be lower than 4.5%.  Either way, it needs to be a lighter beer that you can hoist a few during a drinking “session,” whether you are meeting friends after work, watching the NBA playoffs, or lazing on a Sunday afternoon in the California sunshine.

Here are 10 choices for what I would put in my Session beer picnic basket.  I have purposefully left off pilsners and lagers for a future list, but any other style that has a California-brewed option under the 5% line is fair game.  (As always, I love to hear which beers make your cut as well!)

Kinetic Brewing Company Torque Session IPA3.6%

Pours a light orange color. Good piney hop aroma to it. Easy to drink. Very light but not inconsequential. Bitterness is medium strong throughout. Nice new offering from Lancaster.

Third Street Aleworks Blarney Sisters Dry Irish Stout4.6%

This beer is as advertised. A classic dry stout. Loads of roast character, but very nimble and light. A touch of sweetness rounds it out. Enjoyable.

Pizza Port Ponto Sessionable IPA4.5%

You look at the color and think it is a pilsner. Bright yellow color, but the hops just come blasting through here. Great wheat and light malt background for the hop bitterness to play in. A great six-pack.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company Pit Stop Session Porter3.75%

Pours a dark brown color. Aroma is milk chocolate primarily. Mixing of chocolate and vanilla with a touch of sweetness. Nice dessert session beer.

Modern Times Beer Fortunate Islands Hoppy Wheat4.8%

Light and refreshing and filled with bright hops that do nothing but give me citrus notes left, right and center. Super crisp and delicious.

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Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

Blog Comments

I didn’t see Ballast’s Even Keel on the list, which is like Sculpin’s underage brother at 3.8%.

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