Low ABV/ABW High taste and quality beers next big thing?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BierGartenok, Dec 26, 2012.

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  1. BierGartenok

    BierGartenok Initiate (0) Apr 4, 2009 Oklahoma

    I have been tossing this idea around and have heard from other sources (some national brewers and big US Brewers) saying that this may be the wave of the future. Think an American twist on some of the tastiest English beers..(Pales, Reds, Milds (German Berlinerweiss included)). Is this something you would like to see more breweries doing? If someone brewed an very nice tasting IPA for example that was low ABV (around 4%) would it interest you? With all the insane beers that have been coming out lately, IMO it would be nice to have a similar beer that was very low in ABV, so I could enjoy many! What do you think?
    porcorosso, KYGunner and Duff27 like this.
  2. JuniperJesus

    JuniperJesus Aspirant (270) Feb 26, 2011 Illinois

    I think this is a unique and fantastic idea! You better act fast though; I saw this beer O'Doul's that was less than 1% abv! Looks like they're getting in on the ground floor of this hot trend.
    PaleZombie, JayCin and CMUbrew like this.
  3. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    This has been the "next big thing" for four years running, hasn't happened and I dont think it will take off.
  4. Ataraxia

    Ataraxia Initiate (106) Sep 20, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    That low(er) abv/abw beer would have to be exceptionally tasty or interesting for me to spend money on if it's projected to be <4%. But then again, I don't like drinking/having to chug a lot of weaker beer.

    My "ABV as a metric for measuring beer" in addition to other qualities:
    <5% - poor
    5-7% - fair, worth a first try
    7-9% - good, worth drinking more and more frequently, can drink multiples no problem
    9-11% - very good, slow down and tend to enjoy the beer more, drink several but not as many
    >11% - excellent, likely a special beer to savor, unlikely to have more than 1 or 2

    **if the tiers are reminiscent of consumer reports you'd be correct
  5. Knapp85

    Knapp85 Poo-Bah (6,372) Dec 25, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I'm a huge fan of BrewDog's Dead Pony Club... That beer is something like 3.5 or 4% and I found it to be really damn good. So I say yes, ABV doesn't matter to me all that much. I'll drink it if it's low, high or anywhere in between. I think impressive beers can come out of every perspective also and not just a beers ABV.
  6. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (733) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    I know there is a place for American session beer. I doubt it's ever going to become the dominant craft style, but it's nice to have the option.
  7. raynmoon

    raynmoon Crusader (728) Aug 13, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I don't think you can get all that much flavor out of beer without a high enough alcohol content. It will end up tasting watery compared to most offerings.
    CA_Infidel2o9 likes this.
  8. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I would like to see a lot more of these, but I can't really justify paying $10 a sixer though.
  9. liamt07

    liamt07 Poo-Bah (2,349) Jul 26, 2009 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Not sure if I'm picking up what you're putting down, but if you're discounting the opportunity for brilliant flavour in a beverage <5%, you're off the mark. Massively. ABV is only a consequence when drinking beer, it should never be an objective. And if it is, you're doing it wrong.
  10. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Aspirant (238) Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Your opinion regarding ABV is just that. If I buy a 6 pack of 10% ABV beer, it is going to last a hell of a lot longer than a 6 pack of 4% ABV beer. So ABV is not an objective, but is certainly a consideration for some people when making a beer purchase. It's certainly not the only consideration, but to say that I am 'doing it wrong' is a little narrow minded on your part, IMO.
  11. lotsaswigs

    lotsaswigs Initiate (149) Jan 24, 2006 Michigan

    I think the only way low ABV brews ever take off in the American craft brew scene is if the are priced well below their stronger counterparts. Something like $6 a sixer.
  12. mattbk

    mattbk Devotee (471) Dec 12, 2011 New York

    I like this idea, but Americanized - I could see more breweries pulling off a Founders All Day IPA or Lagunitas Daytime IPA, both of which are solid beers, a lot of hop flavor, and reasonably priced as far as craft beer goes.

    Edit - and less than 5% ABV!
    BierGartenok likes this.
  13. scootny

    scootny Meyvn (1,408) Dec 31, 2007 New York
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    I have been looking for some of those great English examples for my go to brews. Goose Island Honkers is about the best substitute. But still not a true mild. Can't find any so I'm starting to brew my own. I would love to be able to choose from a variety of quality beers and styles at 3-4 percent ABV. Price will be tricky though. The beers will have to deliver on taste! Let 'em come!!
  14. Ataraxia

    Ataraxia Initiate (106) Sep 20, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    Like I said in the first line, it would have to be something that stands out to me when I check it out, in order for me to actually buy it. Hearing that it's good from someone else whose opinion I trust is another item I'd take into consideration. I don't flat out write it off if it's <5% abv, but I'd be somewhat leery of it.

    Plus, while it's not 100% true, I've found stronger beers also have the aroma/flavor profiles that I prefer. It's rarer to find a weaker beer that fills the bill

    EDIT: IPAs are a hit or miss for me, so simply having a strong hop profile doesn't necessarily work for me
  15. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Just drink UTAH beers. The craft brewers have done well with the 3.2% restriction, but few taste really true to style. Pils, Hefe, and a few others don't taste too far off...
  16. emyers

    emyers Devotee (484) Jan 11, 2009 Illinois

    Agree completely. I love a good low abv beer, but it just doesn't feel right buying them when they're priced the same or just a buck lower per six-pack than beers with double the alcohol content.
    UHCougar12 likes this.
  17. kscaldef

    kscaldef Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2010 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    You absolutely can. There's some great British ales and porters running just 4%
  18. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (661) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    The answer to your question depends on your abv cut-off. To answer your question though, there is definitely a market. Two of the best selling craft beers in the country are Boston Lager (4.9%) and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.6%). Allagash White is 5% abv, Weihenstephan Hefeweizen is world class at 5.4% abv. Under 4% is a bit more difficult to find though.

    I believe this a trend that will continue, and breweries will get better at brewering lower abv beers over the next decade. Personally, I'd LOVE to see more bitters, milds, Irish dry stouts....etc. that are flavorful and sub 5%. I'd also love to see more Helles lagers and pilsners brewed around 4.5% to 5%.

    As far as price, I don't mind paying $10 for a low abv six pack. I pay for flavor, not abv. If I want more bang for buck to get drunk I'll buy hard alcohol.
  19. BierGartenok

    BierGartenok Initiate (0) Apr 4, 2009 Oklahoma

    scootny likes this.
  20. emyers

    emyers Devotee (484) Jan 11, 2009 Illinois

    I pay for flavor as well, but it takes less ingredients and is thus cheaper to brew a low abv beer (with possible exceptions being heavily hopped session IPAs or something using expensive adjuncts). That's why I don't like it when low abv beers cost as much as higher abv beers.
    BierGartenok likes this.
  21. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2007 Pennsylvania

    English and Irish Stouts have bold flavor at under 5% abv.
    acevenom and BierGartenok like this.
  22. DroppinBiscuits

    DroppinBiscuits Initiate (123) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    I don't understand any of this logic. Do you really buy beer based on ABV? Why not just buy based on flavor? Who buys bourbon or whiskey based on abv? A six pack of Notch Pils or Bitter American is as tasty as anything else and worth the price of admission.
    skinsfan likes this.
  23. raynmoon

    raynmoon Crusader (728) Aug 13, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    4 percent is reasonable though. I'm talking in the 2-3%.

    or is that not what this board was about?

    I think the definition of "session-able" varies :stuck_out_tongue:
  24. Ataraxia

    Ataraxia Initiate (106) Sep 20, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    Does Guinness fall under that category? Before i started drinking beer, I had heard stories of Guinness being a meal in a cup, a chewable beer, something you can slice, etc. Then I actually had one and was mad disappointed; it was thinner than tissue paper and weaker than apple juice for something classified as a "stout". It should be called a black lager or something, seeing as the chocolate/roasted malt/toffee profile is absent from this beer :rolling_eyes:
  25. CMUbrew

    CMUbrew Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 Michigan

    I dislike the idea behind these beers and am glad the whole thing isn't taking off

    If I want to sit and drink beer after beer, I'll buy some macro lager. If the price of session craft beer can't be competetive with other beers of the same abv range, it's not worth it.
    If I'm quaffing brew after brew, it's probably to get drunk, and at that point you aren't even tasting anything.
    I'd rather have one very delicious beer in a night than two mediocre craft beers.
    No, lower abv beers cannot compete flavor-wise with bigger beers. When was Guinness as good as the last imperial stout or even regular American stout you had? Never.
    Session IPAs. Stop. When you get that low in ABV it's a pale ale.
    I don't like pointless fads in general, so I would prefer that this one die. I especially don't like that one of my favorite breweries, Founders, is becoming a new leader in this one. All Day really isn't that great, and I feel like they're just trying to be trendy with it (my own opinion)
  26. papat444

    papat444 Initiate (0) Dec 28, 2006 Quebec (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Drank a nice dark mild @ Flatbread in Burlington today. Was really tasty. What's tough with these is that there's no massive ABV to hide behind. Easier to mask flaws in a high ABV brew as compared to a 3-4% beer. I liken low ABV beers to the stripped down feel of acoustic music. When done right, it's really good. When not, sounds terrible.
    acevenom and scootny like this.
  27. emyers

    emyers Devotee (484) Jan 11, 2009 Illinois

    Guinness isn't exactly a good example here, as it's nowhere near actual craft session beers. And why does, say, a 4% abv mild have to compete with an imperial stout in flavor? Saying that low abv beers can't be very flavorful is just plain wrong. Again, will they be as flavorful as imperial barrel-aged XYZ beer? No. But why do they have to?

    That being said, I don't buy session beers often, but I like that more breweries are making them.
    BedetheVenerable and skinsfan like this.
  28. vthippie

    vthippie Initiate (146) Dec 18, 2012 Vermont

    Great for summer time BBQ type events when you are in for a long day of beer in hand activities, but I agree with the price concerns, don't want to drop $50 on a case of party cushers.
  29. CMUbrew

    CMUbrew Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 Michigan

    There's a reason I didn't compare stouts to milds. When discussing session beers, people often look to England and Ireland for examples because they produce more low abv beers and have done so even in this thread. I used a low abv Irish stout and compared it to the stouts we normally drink (higher abv). I mentioned imperial stouts more for dramatic effect, but I also mentioned regular American stouts. When I'm saying low abv beers can't compete, I am more referring to similar styles as in my stouts reference. However, I do think that session beers do have to compete flavor wise overall. If they are going to be similar in price to bigger beers, they need to pack just as much flavor. This should be obvious.
  30. emyers

    emyers Devotee (484) Jan 11, 2009 Illinois

    If they're going to be similar in price then I'll agree with you that they should be similar in flavor (consequently price is the reason I don't buy session beers often - they use less ingredients and are less expensive to make, and should therefore cost less than higher abv beers. Unfortunately they often don't). There are definitely extremely flavorful session beers out there. Revolution Workingman Mild and Wee Gene both come to mind. I guess I just took issue with Guinness being used as an example of session beers lacking in flavor, as it isn't a craft beer. Bud light is pretty lacking in the flavor department too :wink:
    CMUbrew likes this.
  31. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Devotee (400) Nov 21, 2008 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Maybe a dry hopped session ale. The problem with that particular example is that it still takes up space in the breweries production line for a lot of time. So it's going to be relatively expensive (for the low ABV). I like the idea of session beers, but I don't like the idea of spending a lot of money for them. BMC could actually do a great job economically producing an all malt light beer with lots of late hop additions. They could do it economically, more so than the typical "craft" brewery. Would you buy it if they brewed it? I wish they'd try more of it. Hell, Blue Moon is drinkable. Maybe they should try something like London Pride. I'm not sure why they don't.
  32. HoyaSaxa7

    HoyaSaxa7 Initiate (122) Aug 19, 2011 Massachusetts

    I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this but I'd like to see it just for the sake of driving.
    BedetheVenerable and MrHolland10 like this.
  33. MrHolland10

    MrHolland10 Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2012 Georgia

    skinsfan likes this.
  34. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2012

    Not trying to be a troll, but would you rate any of those beers, above 3.75-4/5? More ingredients = more flavor = higher abv.

    Believe me, if i could find a glorious brew under 4%, i would be in heaven. I just don't think it's possible...
  35. zrbeer1579

    zrbeer1579 Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2012 Illinois


    Stone make a low abv hoppy amber ale at 4.4%. It's worth a try but not something to get regularly since it cost $11 (excluding the tax) a six packs. Also, sometimes, it feels like a hit-and-miss.
  36. marquis

    marquis Crusader (743) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    I would say that there are thousands available. Beers of this strength aren't for sipping but then from the earliest days of brewing beer has been mostly a safe and tastier substitute for water , intended for drinking in volume.
    Clearly there has to be some connection between ABV and flavour on the basis that extra ingredients bring both, but it isn't a linear or absolute one.I've had beers in the mid 4% to 5% ABV range with more presence than some in the 8% to 10% range.Selection of ingredients, formulation, yeast variety and dispense method all make a contribution.
    One of my favourite beers is a 3.4% dark mild which has an astonishing flavour for its gravity and I always marvel at this when I drink it.The beauty of it is that I can drink a couple of pints and hopefully be under the DUI limit.
    I'm aided by having the cask option; this adds a lot of perceived weight to a beer.Try a pint of Bass dispensed by gravity and compare it with Bass from a can, you would swear that the gravity dispensed version is significantly stronger yet it isn't.
    victory4me, frazbri and skinsfan like this.
  37. flayedandskinned

    flayedandskinned Initiate (0) Jan 1, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    yup. This and Daytime IPA are the wave of the future. I love BIG flavor and low ABV.
    MrHolland10 and skinsfan like this.
  38. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (627) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    IPA has always been a session beer.
    BedetheVenerable likes this.
  39. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,204) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Lower ABV = more ticks per night. You have my vote.
  40. lotsaswigs

    lotsaswigs Initiate (149) Jan 24, 2006 Michigan

    I agree buying on taste should be most important, but there's definitely legitimate reasons for buying beer based on ABV.

    Say I'm going on a canoeing trip on a hot day, I don't think drinking a few 10% IPAs is probably a very good idea. It's hot, you want to quench your thirst, don't want to have a steaming hot beer while trying to enjoy it over a length of time, and getting totally shit faced while trying to navigate some rocks/rapids probably isn't the best idea...so when I pick something up I try to get something I can drink several of, still have my stuff together, and don't end up sick or dehydrated. Factor in you don't want to spend a lot of money on something that's not going to be around very long, whereas a four pack of something 10% might be enjoyed over the course of at least a couple days, and I don't think it's illogical to factor in the price.
    ApolloHTB and emyers like this.
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