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Carla Jean Lauter

Carla Jean Lauter is a craft beer lover and investigator of all things beer. She started a craft beer website and blog thebeerbabe.com in 2007, sharing her thoughts as she explored what was new in beer, as well as brewery visits, trips and "beer adventures." Moving to Portland in 2009, she found herself surrounded by the Maine beer community and has been exploring it ever since. In her blog, Carla profiles craft beer (and some mead and cider, too) being brewed in Maine, as well as looks into the people, places and stories behind the beer that makes the community so vibrant. Join Carla on her beer adventures and advice on where to get the best, newest, and most interesting fermented drinks around. Carla can be contacted at askthebeerbabe [at] gmail.com or on twitter at @beerbabe. Subscribe: RSS Feed for The Beer Babe

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Posted: June 27, 2018

Savor the season with Maine’s best session beers

Written by: Carla Jean Lauter

Maine is a state that provides a variety of opportunities for travel, relaxation and activity, most of which pair well with beer. Lately, local brewers have made it particularly easy to find a beer that won’t get you too buzzed to participate in your summer adventures by creating brews that keep the alcohol content down while still turning up the flavor.

A “session” beer is officially defined as a beer that is below 5 percent alcohol, meaning that it would lend itself well to having several beers in one “session.” If you’ve taken a look at beer menus lately, you may have noticed that the trend in alcohol percentage is on the decline while the emphasis is on the flavor of the beer. For breweries, it’s a win because a customer is more likely to order more than one. For beer drinkers, it means that it’s easier than ever to have a relaxing day by the lake or on a boat and not worry about over-consuming.

As a bonus, all of the essential session beers in this list are packaged in cans, so they can accompany beer fans on more adventures without having to worry about broken glass.

Dirigo Lager, Dirigo Brewing Co. (4.7 percent) 

Dirigo’s Helles-style lager has a strong malt profile. Photos by Dave Patterson

The original session beers were all beers, especially German lagers, brewed to be enjoyed cold, making them ideal partners for outdoor activities and summer activities. For many years, the only options to the thirsty beer lover in the U.S. were mass-produced lagers, but the recent resurgence of craft lagers has provided a plethora of tasty options from small, local breweries. Dirigo Lager is a Helles-style lager, which means that it is light and golden in color and has a strong malt profile. Its balance is key; its light flavor is still immensely satisfying. This versatile beer is also excellent with food, as its characteristics seem to compliment anything that is thrown at it.

Maine Island Trail Ale, Rising Tide Brewery (4.3 percent)

Known locally as MITA, Rising Tide’s Maine Island Trail Ale is a popular summer beer.

This beer is now a staple of summer in Maine. Bars and restaurants try to stock up on cold cans of Maine Island Trail Ale (affectionately referred to by locals as “MITA”) as soon as the temperature starts to climb. In addition to being a clean and crisp beer with plenty of invigorating hops, its dry finish is very thirst quenching and will leave you wanting your next sip. Even when consumed directly from the can, this beer never fails to provide a refreshing burst of hops. A portion of MITA’s sales supports the Maine Island Trail Association, which works to preserve and protect Maine’s coastal waterways and trails.

Simmer Down Summer Session, Sebago Brewing Co. (4.9 percent)

Simmer Down joined the lineup of Sebago Brewing Co. beers in 2014 as a summer seasonal, initially debuting in bottles and later making the switch to cans. This hoppy session ale has a distinct lemony flavor, making it a star at summer cookouts. The hops are there, but they are pleasant and not overly bitter, making it a crowd-pleaser even for those who do not love hop-forward beer. Simmer Down can be found in six-packs or in mixed twelve packs that include Sebago’s other flagship beers, making it even easier to share with friends or family.

Allagash Brewing’s Hoppy Table Beer, which also comes in cans.

Hoppy Table Beer, Allagash Brewing Co. (4.8 percent)

Compared to the other beers on this list – primarily hoppy beers or pale ales – this one stands out in style. It is a “table beer,” which is meant to be an everyday drinking beer, but it is in a Belgian style. The background for this beer is all Allagash; the yeast and the malt bill will seem familiar to anyone who’s had a few of their beers. It has almost a saison-like base, and its hops give a slightly piney note to the end of it. This beer is the first to be offered in cans by Allagash and was thoroughly tested by brewery employees before it was given the OK to be released to the public.

The next time you’re packing for an adventure in Maine, be sure to check your favorite beer retailer for some session beer to bring along. From crowd-pleasers to thirst-quenchers, there’s a style out there for anyone who just wants to reach for a good beer on a warm summer’s day.

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