An interesting discussion has broken out here, initially among brewers and beer writers, about "session beer" and whether anyone can define it. (Hip-hop head nod to Alan.)
In particular I want to take issue with a few arguments there:
(1) the notion, put forward by Weyerbacher head honcho Dan Weirback, that a beer of 6% strength is a session beer because many people think it is.
(2) Jack Curtin's argument that (I'm paraphrasing) we shouldn't pin a number on the alcohol content of session beer because different people have different levels of tolerance.
(3) the suggestion that stronger beers can be sessionable if we just drink them more slowly.
A really nice thing about supporting an idea like "more session beer, please" is that we don't have to respect what is. We support what we think ought to be. People can confound our hopes. American craft brewers can keep making 6% and 7% craft beers because they perceive that it's what drinkers want. But I'm getting fairly sick of having them and some drinkers tell us that such beer is sessionable. No. It ain't. Not for anyone.
It was the largely fruitless hunt for more drinkable beer in the U.S. that led me to write this:
"[T]he market is the market, and I’m a critic by nature. Somebody has to step away from the endless subjectivism of 'to each his own.' Somewhere, we must draw a line and say, 'Enough of that bullshit. We ought to have more of this.'"
A much more compelling question, and one that I'm investigating now (stay tuned), is whether there is any money in making or selling the stuff. It might well be that there is generally more money in craft beers of higher alcohol levels. If that's true, we're simply asking for charity. And that would be a bigger and more interesting problem.