Half the Beer, Double the Fun
A Review of 1/2 Ale (Session Saison) by Brooklyn Brewery
Posted on 2/21/2014 by Chops
                   
Great
Trends play an important role with any popular product. They can be useful barometers for predicting staying power. If a new product is both trendy and innovative, then it has a serious chance of securing permanence after the heights of its popularity. The same is true in the craft beer world. We can all identify trends that have and have not stuck. Some of the more lasting examples have been big bold Imperial IPAs and barrel-aged beers.

A new trend that seems to be gaining momentum is the American-style session ale. Session ales are defined as beers that you can enjoy multiple rounds of in a single sitting without getting hammered. They are typically simple beers with a low alcohol content (commonly around 3.5% ABV). The quintessential session ale is the English Pale Ale (a.k.a. English Bitter), which has notable flavor, but can be quite bland and forgettable. American craft beer fans, on the other hand, have lofty expectations. This means that in order to craft a worthy session ale, American brewers must retain complexity while slashing strength. Few breweries have managed to successfully navigate this challenge. The Brooklyn Brewery is one of them. They recently released their 1/2 Ale, described as a Session Saison.

In the glass, this beer had a clear golden coloration. It came with a bright frothy white head that had good retention. At this point I could already see a slight departure from the style. Saisons are well known for their big fluffy heads even without aggressive pours, so I imagine some recipe tweaks were needed to reduce the bite. After all, thinning out any Belgian style without losing flavor is a challenge in its own right, so I admire Brooklyn's determination. On the nose, I found an earthy grassy aroma full of weedy and herbal notes. I also found notes of lemony citrus and sourdough bread. Mmm, there was the Saison we know and love.

Flavor wise, the beer closely mirrored the aroma and balanced out quite well. All aromatic notes were present and accounted for from grass and herbs to citrus and sourdough. The hops profile had a crisp and needling presence, but was not aggressive. The body was also light and crisp with a tangy flare. This beer was very easy to drink and highly accessible, as any good session ale should be. The finish was very clean, very dry, and exited with a mild bitter herbal aftertaste.

Overall, Brooklyn's 1/2 Ale (Session Saison) is a tasty and refreshing brew. The concept seemed a bit lofty on paper, but Brooklyn executed it very well. A few standard identifiers are muted or missing, but the quality is noticeably high and the style is easily recognizable. For that I must applaud Brooklyn for a job well done. This is certainly a high quality Belgian session ale that beer fans can enjoy all day long. 1/2 Ale is a brew that I can easily recommend to any and all beer fans. Novices can especially benefit from this beer's cordial flavor punch. It's a fantastic bridge into better beer and it goes a long way in showing that weak beers don't have to be boring.

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1/2 Ale (Session Saison) by Brooklyn Brewery
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