Sessionable (The First Session Beer-Focused Bar) To Open In Portland, Oregon

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Do you have a love affair with beer? Are you infatuated with the taste of it on your tongue? Well, to be honest, a lot of us do. But like every good relationship, there are ups and downs. And every beer lover knows the worst times of the relationship are the morning after you’ve made too much love to that beer bottle. You feel like the purest version of crap.

If you’ve been in this situation, Keith Madaras and John Mankes are your love doctors. They have the solution. They are opening a session beer-focused bar on Division Street in Portland, Oregon. It’s set to be opened in spring 2017 and it’s name is…wait for it…Sessionable!

“For the last few years, the [beers’] gravity has been getting higher and higher and higher,” Mankes said in an interview. “You go to a place that might have 30 taps, but the vast majority would start at [seven-percent] ABV and go up from there. I love a good, big, resiny IPA, but I don’t need it every time. So we said ‘Why don’t we take this whole 80/20 split of super-huge beers with just a few sessionables and flip it on its head?’”

Sessionable will focus mainly on beers between two-and-a-half percent and five-percent ABV.

“There are only a few places in the country where you could do this. Portland has so many diverse, beer fans like us,” Madaras said when interviewed. “There’s a lot of folks [who] are getting to our age, around 40, who are into drinking beer but don’t want to feel like absolute crap tomorrow.”

The duo believes there’s a relatively high possibility of their idea being successful because according to Madaras, “mild, table beers and goses are becoming more common and a lot of these fall right in [our ABV range].”

Mankes added that low-gravity beer is actually not something new. It has been served for hundreds of years with little-to-no complaints from beer lovers.

“The social component of that is that when beer falls below [five-percent] ABV, you can have a conversation, hang out for two or three and actually spend that time with your company talking,” Mankes said.

The idea has been received quite well by neighbors and brewers interested in brewing and drinking lower-ABV beers. However, among the praise, the idea has had its fair share of critics. Madaras isn’t letting those would-be connoisseurs get to him. He simply believes most of them just don’t understand what session beer is.

“A lot of porters and stouts fall into this category. Most people don’t think about that when they think sessionable beers,” Madaras explained. “They think it’s all pilsner. Some initial response to some of our social media is ‘Oh, it’s going to be a lot of wheat beer.’ But there are many styles that can be brewed at a lower-alcohol content. You can’t really have a double IPA at this, but you can definitely have a sessionable IPA and a lot of people are making those right now. I like brown ales, which you haven’t seen many of in a long time. There’s a whole lot of cool things out there.”

Another major criticism of the idea is because session beer has lower ABV, it won’t be worth its pint cost.

Sessionable beers will be offered by half-pours and imperial pints, with a 20-ounce pour for a price of about $6. Madaras and Mankes plan to showcase the diversity of session by working with local, national and international breweries for a lot of cool, specialty and small-batch beers.

What if I want beer a bit stronger?

Sessionable doesn’t plan on sticking to their guns all the way. They will be offering a few “after session” specialty beers like barrel-aged one-offs and blended sours for those in need of something a bit stronger.

“A challenge we have is people just not necessarily understanding what a lower-ABV beer can offer,” Mankes said. “It doesn’t have to be thin or like Bud Light. I think we as a beer-drinking society here in Portland are beyond that.”

What do you all think of this idea? Let me know on Facebook or in the comments section below.

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