Beer Man

Session Beer Day is April 7, but do you know where your low-alcohol beer is?

In late 2010, after a few years of fighting between convenience and grocery stores, bottle shops and beer makers, the State of Colorado discovered -- much to its chagrin -- that it was illegal for restaurants and liquor stores to sell low-alcohol beer. That's right, citizens: Colorado was trying to get you hammered.

In 2011, the legislature drafted a bill that would once again allow restaurants and liquor stores to sell beer that was 4 percent alcohol by volume or less. Governor John Hickenlooper, a beer drinker himself, signed that bill at an Old Chicago in Lakewood.

While it's now legal to sell low-alcohol beer, not many of the state's craft brewers make anything less than about 5 percent ABV, and none that I could find make a beer that is 4 percent or lower. (If you know of one, spill it in the comments section below.)

Which may be a problem on Saturday, when an online group of beer aficionados known as the Session Beer Project (tagline: Thanks, I'll have another!) hosts Session Beer Day, a day that highlights beers under 4 percent. Here's how they describe it:

April 7th 1933 was the day Prohibition ended for beer drinkers, and America celebrated happily with oceans of beer...all of it 4% and less. AND THEY LOVED IT!

That's a perfect day to celebrate session beer, great-tasting craft-type beer at lower alcohol that you can enjoy in quaffing volumes. Session beer is about enjoying beer for what it brings: great conversation with friends old and new, the glow of "social lubrication," and great taste without walloping doses of alcohol so you can enjoy yourself without getting knee-walking stupid drunk. Keep it under 4.5% (or 4.0%, if you want to be historical), and make it a session.

The Colorado craft beer with the lowest ABV I found was Cinco, a Mexican-style lager from Denver's Del Norte Brewing. It comes in at 4.1 to 4.2 percent ABV.

Pateros Brewing in Fort Collins doesn't package its beers, but it's gotten on board the Session Beer Day bandwagon; the brewery posted a note on the Session Beer Project website supporting the concept and mentioning its 3.1 percent Remittance Ale.

Of course, you can always celebrate the day by drinking a big old Colorado-style 8 percent beer. Just drink half of it.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes

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