Book Review: Session Beers: Brewing for Flavor and Balance by Jennifer Talley

Jennifer Talley’s Session Beers: Brewing for Flavor and Balance (buy it up on Amazon) is a new book from Brewers Publications. Jennifer Talley has been perfecting session beers by brewing beers in Utah for years. She’s also been preaching the gospel of sessions beers to others, even inspiring a local homebrewer who eventually went pro.


Session Beers

Session Beers: More Than Just IPAs

One of the things I love about this book is that it reminds us that there is a world of session beers out there beyond the pale ale. It seems 90% of times you see a tap list with “Session” on it, it’s quickly followed by “IPA.” Starting with the history of the development of all these session beers the book moves through various chapters of the brewing process, the modern versions of those historic styles, the culture around and reasons for drinking session beer, and finally the costs of making sessions beers on production levels.

Recipes galore

Like many beer books, the bulk of Session Beers is for session beer recipes. Again, covering everything from session IPAs to lagers and goses. One of the cool and unique things about the recipes in this book versus others is that it includes both home and pro versions of the recipes. The main difference here is that the homebrew recipe grist bills are in pounds while the pro versions are in percentages. But then the pros get other little miscellaneous bits that give us homebrewers insight into the real differences of home vs. pro brewing.

A Cincinnati Connection: PSA

MadTree PSA Proper Session Ale

PSA isn’t just a local session beer, it was partly inspired by Jennifer Talley. To quote MadTree Production Manager Matt Rowe from our interview with him when PSA was first canned:

Matt found the idea of a flavorful yet low ABV beer to be a great homebrewing challenge. While listening to an episode of The Brewing Network featuring Jennifer Talley of Squatters Pub in Utah talking about low gravity beers, due to Utah’s weird low ABV laws, he was further inspired to make this beer happen.

Is session beers worth your money?

Sadly, I gotta say this is a pass unless you are really fanatical about Session Beers or want to build a massive library of beer books. You’re paying Amazon $14 for some relatively basic stuff, which you can get off the internet with a bit of Googling. You also get a fair amount of clone recipes, but you could probably find close approximations online as well. I think this is the first beer book I’m not recommending to buy, it’s just a little too niche and tries a little too hard to build something out of rather little.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I received a review copy of this book from the publishers. To our readers, and any companies interested in sending samples. Sending a sample does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it. I promise to do my absolute best to give it a fair review in a timely fashion.

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