Redhook was not the first craft brewer in America, but it was certainly among the pioneers when it poured its first brew in Seattle in 1982, a spicy Belgian ale. And in the nearly 30 years since then, it and other craft brewers went on to find great success with fuller-bodied, more complex beers than your average Bud or Miller Lite.
Today Redhook is on the leading edge of what looks to be another trend, adding a pilsner beer to its full-time portfolio -- a style more known for its refreshment than its punch. "It's the kind of beer that you can sit back with and have friends over for a barbecue," said brand manager Robert Rentsch. It also has just 5.3% alcohol by volume compared with the 5.8% of its flagship amber ale. You can "have four or five of these … and get a lot of enjoyment out of the beer and not be overstuffed," he said.
While so much of the buzz around craft beer these days is about exotic, extreme ales -- including some with soaring alcohol content -- there also is a growing recognition that these blends must be balanced by easier-drinking brews. In the trade it's called "sessionability," which basically means you can drink more than a couple and not be stumbling drunk or so full that you're looking for the nearest couch. And there's a business side effect of so-called session beers: More people will drink them.
"A lot of the breweries are coming out with really sessionable beers … because I think they are recognizing that if they want to grow their share, if they do want to double it or triple it, they are going to have to make those 'bridgeway' beers to bring more drinkers into the fold," said Jennifer Litz, editor of Craft Business Daily.
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