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Session Black Lager

“I myself am often surprised by life’s little quirks” – Westley, The Princess Bride


Quirks are unusual occurrences, and along with Westley, I am continually surprised by them. Having just written about session drinking I was delighted to come across a beer that is (in taste) the very essence of a session beer. I was offered this little brew at a friend’s house, and despite my not generally considering myself a lager drinker, I nonetheless accepted the offer. I have to be honest here and say that had it not been a black beer I may have declined.

Black lagers are outside my ken, so this was a first for me. I have to say that I was quite delighted by this brew, from the first pour to the last drop, and I dare say that I could have enjoyed another one or two of them on the night. Of course it pours a dark brown-black, with a feathery head, and a malty nose is apparent almost immediately. When I stuck my nose in the glass I was delighted to get a sweet and faintly chocolate-and-toffee whiff, reminiscent of the bonfire toffee of my youth.

Session Black Lager

Session Black Lager

The flavour is mild, the body understandably light and refreshing, but there’s a slight fruitiness that again came as something of a surprise. I really wanted to quaff it and go back for a second helping, but I failed in that regard, although I see a future in which a few of these will sit in the fridge for those easy session-beer evenings with a few friends.

At 5.8% ABV it’s stronger than I’d drink in a serious evening session, but it really is an easy beer to drink, neither challenging or complex, yet yummy enough that I would stock up a little so that I can have a cold one or three when I fancy it. Unusually, it comes in an 11-ounce bottle, slightly smaller than “regulation” beer size, and that may account for New Sail calling it “Session” – you’d possibly still drink the same number of bottles in an evening, without all that tedious getting plastered.

I’d be curious what would happen if I let it warm up a little as it was served at fridge temperature. Next time I’ll pour a pint so I can see what happens as the chill slips away. Maybe one of these evenings I will do just that, and I’ll be sure to let you know my findings. Meantime, if you come across this one, do give it a whirl and prepare to be as surprised as I was.

  1. 25 September, 2009 at 17:51

    I am not a lager drinker either (most of the time I think it tastes like soap), but I find the regular Session (with the red label) rather delicious.

    • 25 September, 2009 at 18:10

      I’ve tried the regular lager, and I may write that up as part of a planned lager taste-off. I have been wanting to do a tasting of microbrews (including true European lagers) and compare with American adjunct lagers. Good lagers are there to be found, but you have to pay for ’em.

  2. 28 September, 2009 at 19:43

    One of these last summer days I am going to two-fist the Session and the Black Session.

    It’s a neat trick what they did here- steeping the heavily roasted malts at the end of the boil so that mostly the color and leastly the burnt comes into the wort.

    • 29 September, 2009 at 09:22

      Aye, a pack of each during the NoCal autumn might make for an interesting evening. You should come down to help me, brother!

  3. Tom Nolte
    16 January, 2010 at 20:35

    Speaking of Black Lagers … Kevin, the next time you’re in the Bay Area or Sonoma County, you absolutely must seek out Moonlight Brewing’s Death and Taxes. Brian Hunt, the brewmaster (and owner, and marketing team, and delivery driver … it’s pretty much a one-man operation) is something of a locally heralded Mad Genius. He doesn’t do “Imperial” or “Double” anything, nor does he bottle as he feels that it spoils the integrity of the beer. He tends to stick with traditional styles, but does them EXTREMELY well.


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