Elk Rapids legend has it that Joe Short and his brewery team make a bet with Helios (the sun god) every spring. If Short’s can summon the people of Elk Rapids out of hibernation for one whole day to enjoy Helios’ hard work, then Helios will return the favor and kick up his chariot to burn brighter and hotter than the winter months, transforming the snow-covered hills to blossoming cherry fields and the frozen lakes to water-ski ready basins. To bring the people out of their warm, cozy homes, the team planned a party and entitled it “Short’s Summer Kickoff Party.” It worked! The sound of “20 Beers on Tap” being yelled from the plant, the smell of hotdogs sizzling on the grill, and the bongos of Rumblefish did the trick. The good people of Elk Rapids spent the entire day dancing in the parking lot of Short’s Brewing Company. Helios has kept his promise and the sun will now start to burn brighter and hotter for all people to enjoy this summer!
Now that the Northern Michiganders are preparing for longer days outside, water sports, and farming fields, a lighter, less alcoholic beverage is needed to keep them happy without getting sleepy. The answer: session beer! A beer that has an ABV no higher than 5.1% with a nice balance between the style’s classic characteristics and the lower alcohol level. This style allows people to consume them for a longer “session” of time without experiencing a strong tipsy effect. This style of beer is not new, however. With the trend of stronger and more extreme beers hitting market more frequently, a handful of American breweries are adding these lower alcoholic beverages to their brew line up.
The trick of course, is to create a session beer that has just as much flavor as one with a high ABV, or else the pleasure of drinking is compromised. So how do brewers do this? The simple answer is balance. Cutting back on the fermentable sugars, or malted barley and other ingredients that contain sugar, is how one lowers ABV, but the brewer must also change their hopping method so the ingredients compliment one another, and do not just create a “hop tasting tea.”
One of the beers that Short’s has created specifically for the inhabitants of Michigan who want to remain upright and refreshed at the same time as they enjoy all-day summer fun is Prolonged Enjoyment. It has an earthy hop fragrance of green grass, pine, and citrus and a zesty hop flavor that is balanced with sweet malty flavors. It is light bodied but also has a nice bitter and slightly dry finish. This session brew will hit shelves at the end of May.
So now that you have escaped the walls of your Michigan home, and are looking for something to quench your thirst after wakeboarding on Torch Lake, or fishing on Clam River, check out your local bottle shop for the word “session” and enjoy its drinkability. Oh, and don’t forget to send a thanks up to Helios, he is a pretty cool dude.