Sipping Light

“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor…” Despite our best intentions, a casual outing at a bar or brewery can occasionally turn into a booze-soaked evening that we barely remember the next day. It happens to the best of us, even if we think we’re being good by sticking to beer—some brews can have an ABV of 10 to 15 percent, making it hard to drink even one without feeling the effects.

Luckily, there’s an alternative that will keep you on your feet and thinking clearly. It’s called a session. Sessions come in the form of beers and sours under 5 percent ABV, and liquors under 20 percent ABV, making it easier to relish several drinks without getting too tipsy.

“The idea is that you can have multiple drinks in your duration of hanging out or visiting a brewery or bar, and not have the effects of higher alcohol,” says Chris Powers, the co-owner of Raleigh’s Trophy Brewing Co.

The term “session” refers to drinking a large quantity of beer over a long period of time without becoming too heavily intoxicated, a pastime common to Ireland and Britain. While the average ABV of a beer is 5.9 percent, 5 percent ABV is considered optimal, with high drinkability.

Session alcohol has grown in popularity over the last five years, with imbibers becoming more conscientious about what they’re drinking, and craft cocktail bars and breweries all over the country regularly introducing new alcohol concepts.

But while sessions are certainly lower in alcohol, they remain high in flavor. Many session cocktails are made with low-proof liqueurs, such as amari and vermouth, which contribute a distinct taste.

At Trophy, brewers retract grains and malts and increase hop percentages to create its distinguished session IPA, Trophy Wife, which is only 4.9 percent ABV. Brewers also replace alcohol flavors with fruit flavors in beers, including Berliner Weisses, sours and goses, to achieve a more tart flavor profile with bright, refreshing citrus notes in place of an alcohol taste, Powers explains.

In Raleigh, it’s especially convenient to enjoy sessions with the vast array of bars and breweries we have available to us, making it easy to hop from one location to another to try a variety of different drinks.

The newest spot to capitalize on the session trend is Social 113, a craft cocktail bar and lounge opening soon in the Warehouse District. The bar, a new venture from The District Raleigh’s Christopher Michael and Jermaine Landon, will feature session cocktails, wine and local beers and will serve as a relaxing meet-up spot for casual drinks after work or before a night out.

So the next time you go out to a bar or brewery, do yourself a favor and indulge in a low-alcohol session. You’ll be able to drink more, or taste different drinks, and you’ll definitely have a better morning after.