The state of Utah has built a fantastic monster: the state-mandated session beer. For those who don’t know, Utah law prohibits the sale of high-point beers in the grocery store. Anything over 3.2% by alcohol weight or 4.0% alcohol by volume, must be sold in the liquor store, and it must be sold…warm (although there are a few exceptions). With the recent post by Drink Craft Beer calling on the return of session beers and imposing the somewhat arbitrary 4.5% alcohol by volume cap on session beers, Utah brewers have perfected the art of making low-point, quaffable beer – and I mean that in a good way – and Utah has officially become the frontrunner for easy throwbacks. We can’t get cold high-point brews in the state-run liquor stores, so those needing a cold “sesh” after a long hike or day skiing can literally pick any beer at the grocery store and you are on your way to session heaven.
Sure we have our high-point brews that only sell at the state liquor store (again, with a few exceptions). But what Utah has created is a beer culture that suits the lifestyle of Utahns. With so much to do outside, the last thing I want is to come home with the bros and throw back a warm 6.0+ IPA that I picked up from the liquor store on my way home. Hell no! What I want is my three-two Provo Girl Pilsner and Emigration Amber from Squatters Pubs, or my Cutthroat Pale Ale and Gelande Amber Lager from Uinta Brewing Co.. Other states should take note of what Utah brewers have done. I’m not suggesting that states should impose further limits on beer sales – we have enough of those. Breweries should return to the session beer. Lately, breweries have been pumping out Double IPAs, Imperial Thises and Imperial Thats – high-point, over-hopped brews that easily mask faults. What I think people want is to throw back a great tasting craft brew after a long day and not feel guilty about having one more than their doctor might recommend or having to worry about passing out on the patio.
Kudos to you Utah. Don’t let people tell you that Mormons have ruined your beer culture; in fact, we have them to thank for bringing back the session beer. So, remember to thank your missionary and here’s to you, Utah, and your wonderful state-mandated session beers. Cheers!