Friday, April 23, 2010

Beer is in Session: Session Premium Lager and Premium Dark Lager

Back in 2008 I made the trek to Hood River, Oregon and visited the Full Sail Brewing Company. Full Sail was established in 1987 and they are a legend in American craft brewing circles. When I visited the brewery in Hood River back in 2008 they had just debuted a new beer called Session Premium Lager. At the time I really didn't get it. Why would a respected craft brewer want to brew a Premium Lager? Wasn't the craft brewing movement about getting away from that and delivering beers with flavor and character? Easy drinking beers were left to the likes of the macrobrewers and regionals.
I actually tried it at the brewery on draught, and thought it was a nice, clean, drinkable lager, but so what? I could get that with Yuengling, Straub, Narragansett, dare I even say Miller High Life? Then it dawned on me. Wait a minute. I love a good clean, all malt lager. I praise the Germans for brewing such great lagers, I enjoy regional brewers who do this as well. Truth be told, I love a good lager as much as I love a good ale. I love craft brewers who do great lagers. Why would I not want an all malt craft brewed premium lager? One that was bringing back another old school American beer tradition, the stubby which you see pictured here. An 11 oz squat little brown bottle.
I get it now. When Full Sail recently showed in my market, I was immediately drawn to the 12 pack cases of Session Premium Lager. I remembered seeing stacks of cases of this beer at the brewery in Hood River when it first came out in 2008 and passed on buying it. I was not about to pass on trying the bottled form of this beer this time around. I was happy to see that Session Premium Black Lager had joined the party. I'm now officially hooked on both, as these beers like all Full Sail beers are outstanding and so, so well crafted. Here is what the brewery has to say:
Original Session, with the bright red label, is a classic all-malt pre-Prohibition style lager that reminds us of what American lagers used to taste like. It's flavorful, refreshing, and has a touch of that import-style taste. (Which, once upon a time, you didn't have to buy an "import" to get.) Oh, and it comes in a stubby, 11-oz bottle like your grandpa used to buy. So after your next session (surf, jam, gab, whatever), crack open a Session and drink to the good old new days.

Named World's Best Premium Lager at the World Beer Awards and winner of a slew of other shiny trophies, Session has truly earned itself a place at the bar. Not to mention the barbecue.
ABV 5.1% IBU 18

Short, Dark, and Drinkable and a Gold Medal Winner at the 2009 GABF! Our newest member of the family, Session Black, carries the mantra of drinkability into new territory. Most beers this dark are so heavy-duty, you could eat them with a fork. Session Black, on the other hand, lets you have your dark beer and drink it, too. With just a hint of roasty chocolate character, Session Black is short, dark, and totally drinkable. At long last, a dark beer that doesn't drink like a meal.
ABV 5.4% IBU 18

I could go into my own reviews of this beer, but Full Sail has done it for me. What you have here are two very drinkable beers, with good flavor. At 5.1% abv they are the type of beers you will want to have a "session" with, ie you will want to drink more than one, or two, or three. Malty, clean, smooth, and drinkable, this is what Premium Lager and Dark Lager is all about. I enjoy the Dark a little better but that is because I have always enjoyed a little more dark malt, roasty flavor. Both these beers are just outstanding drinking beers, and have great malt flavor with mild hop bitterness, just to balance. These are the types of beers you can drink ice cold from the cooler, or in a glass. Good, solid, clean, drinking beer. All malt, all good. A little more expensive than your Yuengling, but worth having in the rotation. These two beers will be in mine for now on. For more info visit the brewery's site at:

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