It's #FloridaBeerFriday. Every Friday, we take a look at a beer brewed in the Sunshine State, giving analysis to the burgeoning craft beer movement of Florida.
This week we're turning our beer goggles on south Palm Beach County's newest big hitters in the brewing scene, Saltwater Brewery. After an unprecedented first six months in operation, the team became one of the top five producers of beer by volume, and signed a distribution deal with Brown Distributing to get their product in bars and restaurants across South Florida.
Our last look at a Saltwater brew was something out of the ordinary, with a flavorful and complex old ale created with black currants and sea grape wood. Today, we're looking at the South End Session Ale, the lowest alcohol by volume beer in the Saltwater lineup at 4.5% abv.
But what is a 'session ale'? The term, frequently seen more generically as 'session beer', is a catch-all phrase that encompasses really any beer that contains a historically low amount of alcohol and can be imbibed for an afternoon, or any long period drinking 'session' (hence the name).
Sure, this category could probably include most light lagers and macrobrews, as they tend to fall into these lower ranges, and could indeed include many British bitters and dry Irish stouts. But generally, beer people consider the session beer to be something of a light blonde, pale, or IPA type beverage.
South End pours with a golden orange color, which shows there are some good coloring malts in the beer. It gives off such mild aromas, I can barely make out anything specific beyond some generic light hops or faint toast. The flavor, however, is developed with some caramel malt, and some smoke. Mouthfeel on this one is crisp but slightly creamy (seemingly contradictory, I know, but it's there), and it holds a nice frothy crown. If I swirl the beer to get a lot of bubbles to come out of suspension, I can get a very mild pineapple aroma to come out.
Overall, this reminds me of a nice Vienna lager, nothing as bold as the famous Sam Adams Boston Lager, but a crisp beer with enough caramel flavor to push it into that territory. It's definitely a good beer to take on for an afternoon of hanging with friends at the brewery, playing Jenga or shufflepuck.
Follow #FloridaBeerFriday for more reviews of Sunshine State brews.
Get out there and #DrinkLocal.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers, and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Instagram.
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