Historically, in most ale-drinking cultures, beer appeared in three strengths. The lightest (up to 3.5% ABV) were made mainly for rehydration, the boiling that occurred during production making them a safer drink than the water supply – a role in which they were unrivalled until the coming of tea and coffee.
Most of the beer drunk in the world today is relatively low in alcohol (3.5-5.0% ABV). At this strength few will impress through the intensity of their flavour. Rather the trick is to create beers that entice subtly through more delicate but catchy attributes. The best are welcome companions to a session in conversation.
Successful session styles often feature methods found by brewers and maltsters to squeeze the maximum grain flavours out of malted barley during mashing, lacing the beer through with additional character from fruitier yeast strains and spicing with either complimentary or sometimes high-performance hop combinations.
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