A test of Sessionability

It needs to be noted from the start that this post isn’t designed to promote binge drinking. I’m merely putting my body on the line for science, so that you don’t have to. Please, don’t try this at home. Unless it’s the next Grand Final day…

Sessionable – it’s a word that I’ve been hearing more and more in craft beer circles lately. The Macquarie Dictionary defines it as ‘having less than the standard alcohol content and so being suitable for session drinking’ i.e. low in booze, so you can have more of them before deciding it’s a good idea to text your boss at 3am to tell them what you really think. But it also seems to be used to describe a beer that has less flavour than normal, meaning you can drink a heap of them without your tongue disintegrating due to hop overload. The problem is the beers that fall into the second category aren’t necessarily lower in alcohol. So is it fair to call these beers sessionable?

One of the more recent beers to be labelled with the sessionable tag is the Mountain Goat Summer Ale. Their website says that it was born after a few summers of playing around with other sessionable ales, and that it’s designed to be a thirst quencher. Check out the comments on RateBeer.com and Untappd and you’ll also see plenty of drinkers describing it as ‘sessionable’ or something similar. But the Summer Ale is 4.7%ABV (1.4 standard drinks per can) so it doesn’t really fit the dictionary definition of ‘sessionable’. So, is it really as sessionable as people believe?

Have any of the people making these comments actually tested whether you can have a session with this ale or not? Or have they made this call after drinking just one or two? Has anyone put their health and wellbeing on the line to test just how many of these you can drink, and then documented the findings?! Is there anyone irresponsible enough to even try that?!!

One person is. Me. Here’s my recollection of a Sunday session with the Mountain Goat Summer Ale, written up as a lovely little journal article. This is for science after all.


To test the sessionability of Mountain Goat Summer Ale

The flavour may allow for sessionability, but the alcohol will probably kick me in the face.

– Beer (in this case, a carton of Mountain Goat Summer Ale)
– Notebook (for recording notes)
– Pen (otherwise the notebook would be useless)
– Thirst
– Dirty food (for the inevitable munchies that will occur)
– Friends (because it’s weird to have a session on your own)
– A TV to watch the Rugby League Grand Final

1. Drink a beer. Write notes about the beer
2. Repeat Step 1

Can 1: Opened at 1140 am
I decided to have the first one straight from the can. There’s so much more flavour and aroma than I expected, mainly because of the mixed reviews I’d been hearing. It’s tropical, definitely passionfruit, a little bit dry, light on the fizz so you can slam it down fast, and finishes with just a hint of bitterness. It’s a wicked combo that goes down far too easily, and the entire can is gone by 1145am….and that included time out typing and taking Instagram pics like a pro.

Can 2: 1200pm
This one went in a glass. It definitely looks light, with that same yellow colour seen in other ‘Ales’ popular in the ‘Pacific’. The weird thing about the aroma is that you get the same amount from the glass that you got from the can. Maybe the wide mouth cans really do allow the aroma to flow? I’d go as far as calling the body juicy. There’s a lasting sweetness singing in the background as well, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is yet. Maybe after another can?

Can 3: 1230pm
It’s orange! That sweetness I can taste in the background, it’s definitely orange. Or maybe mandarin? Some kind of orange coloured citrus anyway. All I really know is that I’m on to can number 3 and the footy hasn’t even started yet.

Can 4: 1315pm
Footy is on, beer still tastes great, and I’m surprised but how much I’m NOT being affected by it just yet. I had a tingle in my legs, but that’s it. I’m getting hungry though.

Can 5: 1400pm
Now there’s an awesome spice in the flavour as well!! Or maybe that’s from the Smoky BBQ Grain Waves that I just busted open. They’re pretty good, though I’d still prefer Original flavour any day. And yeah, I guess the beer matches well.

Can 6: 1454pm
Ok, there’s a legitimate change in flavour now. I’m noticing more of a citrus sourness, and even a hint of funk. Neither of these are bad things, and simply add to the experience.

Can 7: (I forgot to record times from this point. Bad sign)
Has anyone else noticed that pouring from a can gives you the perfect pour every time?

Can 8:
(I was too busy preparing my epic drunk meal to write notes for this one)

Can 9:
(I was too busy eating the epic drunk meal to write notes for this one. Safe to say that the beer also matches well with pepper steak meat pies, bacon, cheese, and hash browns all wrapped up in flour tortillas. I told you it was epic)

Can 10:
I had this one out of the can again. Just to change things up. And we started playing 20c football. I’m losing, badly

Can 11:
That was can 11

Can 12:
Games over. Roosters won. I’m still standing. The beer is still tasting good. And we’re going out

Can 13/14/15:
These were consumed during our slow trek into the Valley, so no notes were taken. These ones definitely pushed me over the edge, and I didn’t actually finish can 15.

The night ended, with my dignity still intact, shortly after midnight.

Aftermath (aka the next morning):
I felt…surprisingly fine, considering I’d had 15 beers the night before. Further evidence that craft beer doesn’t give you a hangover I guess.

Drinking 15 beers is a bad idea. You really shouldn’t do it. But if you’re going to do it, then the Mountain Goat Summer Ale is a good choice. The flavour is a very refreshing tropical hit, and the low carbonation lets it go down quickly. And the alcohol didn’t kick me in the face as badly as I thought, although it did make me forget what I was trying to achieve at times.

I mentioned that I’d read some mixed reviews of this beer. Personally, I love it, and it’ll be a standard in my fridge this summer. It’ll quench your thirst, and do it in a very tasty way.

And I’m a complete fan of (good) beer in cans now. Let’s bring on more of it!


4 thoughts on “A test of Sessionability

  1. Pingback: The Importance of Glassware | Drunken Speculation

  2. Pingback: The Hottest 100 of 2013 | Chasing Ale

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