Friday, April 13, 2018

'Bout Time

Character crafted on the beach.  Those are the words that adorn the can of the 'Bout Time Session-Style India Pale Ale produced by the Outer Banks Brewing Station.  Recently, my beautiful family took a vacation in the Outer Banks and, as we usually do when we are in the area, we stopped by the OBX Brewing Station.  I picked up a four pack of the beer for the vacation.  

The five words describing the beer -- "Session Style" India Pale Ale -- got me thinking about what exactly makes a "session style" beer.  Is it just the ability to drink it easily?  The 'Bout Time does drink very easily.  Is it the lower ABV?  This beer has an ABV of 5.8%, which is definitely on the low end of an India Pale Ale. 

The origin of session beers is generally thought to have began in Britain during the First World War.   Manufacturing employees, including those who worked in munitions plants, worked long hours, broken up by breaks or "sessions" of four hours.   The employees drank beer during those sessions; and, if they drank their usual ales, porters or stouts, that could create some problems when they returned to their jobs of producing ammunition, ordnance and the like.  So, brewers produced easy drinking beers with lower alcohol contents; and, thus, the "session" style was borne. One example is the Whitbread IPA had an ABV that decreased from 4.61% in 1914 to 3.30% in 1918.   The only issue with this example is that 4.61% for an India Pale Ale is fairly low, especially by today's standards.  It was also lower than the Whitbread Pale Ale, which had an ABV of 5.31% in 1914 and 3.83% in 1918.  So, an IPA had a lower ABV than a pale ale?  Now, that is truly a session beer. 

The brewers at the OBX Brewing Station produced the 'Bout Time IPA session ale with El Dorado and Azecca hops.  Their work and those hops produced a beer with a copper or light rust color, which one would expect of an India Pale Ale.  The session nature of this beer is evident in both the aroma and taste of this beer. The aromas are there, with some pine bitterness and grass coming out in the nose of the beer.  But, unlike a typical IPA, those elements are not loud.  Their smoothness is consistent with the nature of a session beer.  Likewise, the taste taste elements -- such as the grapefruit notes -- are well rounded and impart some bitterness that quickly recedes after each sip.  The session-style takes what would be a very hoppy IPA and makes it a very good pale ale, at least in terms of the hoppiness and bitterness.  

A four pack of the beer is available at the OBX Brewing Station and, if you happen to be in the area, it is worth the $11.99 per pack.  Until next time ...


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