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A session with some of the nation's best session beers

America's favorite pastime

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Ben Franklin said it best when he said, "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." In Charleston beer has become its own religion, with devoted drinkers flocking to local breweries every day of the week. While Charleston beers are kicking some local brew ass, there are plenty of beers from around the country (and world) that are worth a try. Brandon Plyler, Charleston Beer Exchange manager and beer genius, suggested some from-off beers. He pointed us in the direction of session beers, brews that are generally lower in alcohol content so that the drinker can consume more than a few in one sitting — hence the "session." Session beers should also be tasty enough to make the drinker want to come back for more. Here's what we swilled.

Citra Sunshine Slacker
Evil Twin Brewing
Two Roads Brewery, Stratford, Conn.

At 4.5 ABV this brew is a far cry from some of Evil Twin's other offerings — we're talking about the 13 percent ABV of the Molotov Cocktail, an imperial IPA. Low in alcohol or not, the Slacker still boasts the flavor of an IPA, with a light citrus note hitting the back of the tongue. It's like the smart, lazy kid in high school, tasting like a hoppy beer without even trying, and most importantly, without you falling off your porch rocker after two drinks.

Even your Gose-hating friends will love Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf's Ritterguts (right), and Introvert IPA's low ABV means you can (probably) have another - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Even your Gose-hating friends will love Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf's Ritterguts (right), and Introvert IPA's low ABV means you can (probably) have another

Pre-Game Session IPA
Unknown Brewing
Charlotte, N.C.

Pre-game indeed. At 4.2 ABV this beer's low alcohol content is also indicative of its taste. We normally reach for a High Life when we want to hydrate*, but this brew may have us changing our routine. Unlike the Sunshine Slacker, this session IPA lacks the traditional IPA citrus bite. It's extremely light-bodied and very smooth. We could easily down five or six without blinking an eye.

Introvert IPA
Left Hand Brewing
Longmont, Colo.

Of the beers we tried, Left Hand's Introvert IPA made it into our shopping cart when we were deciding on a six-pack. Not as full-bodied as a normal IPA, the brew has some of the skunk you want when tasting hops. The lingering taste reminds you that you are, indeed, drinking an IPA, and the 4.8 ABV means you can have one, two, or three more.

Classic Saison
Blackberry Farm Brewery
Walland, Tenn.

Our friends all agreed on the word for this 6 percent ABV brew: effervescent. Nice, right? The stuff is delicious and bubbly, with a cork-topped bottle letting you know that you're getting into something lighter than a lot of saisons. Despite the brewery's name, this saison didn't taste like blackberries, and its tart bite rounded out some of the sweeter flavors like banana. There's also a very generous head on this beer, which Beer Advocate confirms is normal for everyone. And to think we were questioning our beer-pouring skills...

Grab Smuttynose's Hayseed while it lasts - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Grab Smuttynose's Hayseed while it lasts

Ritterguts Gose
Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf
Germany (duh)

We love Gose. We love the sour and salty way it lingers in our mouth, begging us to take another sip. Ritterguts Gose gives us this and more. Even our Gose-hating friends loved this brew. With the ingredients on the label listed simply as "beer and spice," we were tickled by this refreshing 4.2 ABV import. The sourness hits your tongue on the way down but it's not mouth-puckering, leading us to really wish we'd gotten more than one bottle.

Yacht
Stillwater Artisanal
Baltimore, Md.

This 4.2 percent ABV brew comes in a sleek silver can with yellow and blue stripes, as nautical as if it came straight off a yacht. Looks aside, the slightly heavy lager tastes like malt and lemon, staying true to its origins. We probably wouldn't go back to this beer, unless, of course, we were on a yacht. It's a boat beer through and through.

Hayseed
Smuttynose Brewing
Portsmouth, N.H.

This saison reminded us of a hefeweizen, with a good head and notes of, well, hay. The hay/grass/wheat taste is complemented by fresh lemony-ness, and at 3.8 percent ABV this beer will last you all day, on the porch, lake, or beach. This brew was one of Smuttynose's summer seasonal's, so grab it while it's still around.

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