Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Two beers each for servicepeople in Iraq during the Super Bowl

By William Brand
Sunday, February 1st, 2009 at 11:50 am in what's on tap.

While you and I sip our favorite and greatest beers this afternoon during Super Bowl XLIII, think of the American servicepeople on duty in Iraq. Thanks to presidential edict., they get two beers each.  Doesn’t sound like much, but Iraq is officially dry for the U.S. military (although when I was in the Navy overseas, we always had booze).

No matter, the word is: two beers.  And, according to this report from ESPN, the beer is very likely to be Budweiser, I dunno about you, but two cans of Bud vs. no beer at all is a no brainer. Go for the Bud.

Last note, about what to drink during the Super Bowl — the trouble with all my favorites is they’re strong.   What’s called for is a British-style “mild”, a malty, drinkable low-alcohold session beer, around 3.5 percent.  Trouble is the only beers of that strength in America — outside brewpubs, where milds are starting to show up  — are light beers.  Amsel Light, the Heineken import, for instance, is 3.5 percent.  Michelob Ultra is 4.2 percent,  Sam Adams Light is 4.05 percent.  With the possible exception of Sam, these are beers of little taste.

One low alcohol beer I really like — but haven’t found in a while is Brasserie Dupont’s  Avril. It’s 3.5 percent, but the first time I tried it, I assumed it was another hefty, Belgian ale. Doesn’t taste like 3.5 percent: lots of spice and malt. We need more beers like Avril in America. I have some Pliny and Dogfish 90-Minute on hand. But after I drink one or two of either, I’m finished for the day.

On the subject of lower alcohol session beers, Lew Bryson, the Philadelphia author and beer writer, has just started a new blog: The Session Beer Project. He wants to create a forum and buzz for lower-alcohol beers…Great idea. The time has come.

For a list of popular beers and their alcohol content, check out this site for starters.
So, let’s build a session beer list. Comments welcome. I’ll use the list in a future column —

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  • Antonio

    I wholeheartedly agree about session beers. My favorite these days is actually 21st Amendment’s Bitter American, which has a whole lot of flavor. A growler of that would be absolutely perfect for Super Bowl viewing, but alas, I was there a couple of days ago, and they only had three beers on tap and that wasn’t one of them. I assume that starting today you can get a whole lot of the opposite of session beers there.

  • rajbot

    When I visited Utah I found that they had some very drinkable light beers. I believe the story was that local brewers were required to keep their beers under a certain alcohol percentage (4.5?) and as a result of this their entire catalog of offerings were made up of light beers. Haven’t seen any get imported, but I would love to see more of these in the stores! I would definitely buy them (as a bonus, many of them are lighter in calories too, which should appeal to those of us watching our food intake).

  • Paul

    Hmmmm, no list yet. Maybe that is because it is hard to build with local easy to obtain beers without actually going to a pub. Personally, today for our party, I have a beer list of 11 beers, 3 of which are my own homebrews. The lightest is a 4.3% Irish Red. Most are the winter brews from around the west and the others are IPA’s. But, I am offering taster glasses of 4oz of any of the beers besides the pint glass. Maybe I’ll convert some light beer drinkers.

  • Thomas

    Were you stationed in many Muslim countries William? Because I believe the rules in those countries have always been there, based on local laws or am I mistaken?

  • Taylor

    No low ABV? What about Anchor Small Beer 3.3 ABV, good stuff. I’m enjoying Full Sail Session Lager, 5.1 ABV. Just rught for me

  • Taylor


  • Mario (Brewed For Thought)

    My session beer for the day was 21A’s Watermelon Wheat. By kickoff I had switched to Marin’s Dipsea Tripel and Moylander 2IPA for the 2nd quarter and the Boss. Session beers are nice, but the appeal of the bigger brews can be too much to ignore.

  • Mario (Brewed For Thought)

    By the way, two beers for the troops, make it Liberty Ale.

  • Drew

    Here are some of my “sessionable” beer choices.

    Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale – 4.5%
    Alaskan Amber – 5%
    Allagash White – 5%
    Anchor Steam – 4.9%
    Jever Pilsener – 4.9%

  • MoragaMike

    Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Celebration and Chico Estate Wet Hop side-by-side. All good, but I’ll give the nod to Torpedo for best aftertaste. This comparison could have been marred by the over-consuption of unhealthy appitizers that we had along with the beer.

  • William Brand

    Never was station in the Middle East. But I was on a ship that went far and in heavy seas the “file drawers” in the ship’s office rattled and clinked. “B” for beer and wine, W for Whiskey and Wine and so on. We were an inventive lot.