The last couple of years has seen a resurgence in mid-strength beers in Sydney, particularly among independent and craft brewers.
It should come as no surprise that mid-strength beers have made a comeback. For a while “sessionability” has been used as a positive descriptor for beers. As the craft category continues to grow, brewers are looking towards a longtail of casual beer drinkers rather than the typical audience of actively engaged customers.
More than that, Australians have been defining their own preference in flavour profiles. This seems to revolve around approachable, easy drinking and sessionable beers.
These beers need to be flavourful but not over the top, and they need to be low alcohol. This is not least because people are more health conscious than ever, often favouring zero alcohol beverages over alcoholic drinks.
With all that said, craft beer has done remarkably well to stay relevant among this segment of consumers. There are plenty of breweries in Sydney that are making exceptional mid-strength beers that don’t compromise on flavour.
Here’s a look at some of Sydney’s best mid-strength beers.
Young Henrys Stayer
Presumably named because it allows you to stay the course, Young Henrys Stayer absolutely nails the brief for a modern mid-strength pale ale.
It balances bready malts with fruity hops. It’s damn frothy and nearly crystal clear in the glass. It looks like the prototypical picture of beer and it looks beautiful.
The Young Henrys name carries a significant resonance within a more mainstream market. So while it’s going to be very popular in the brewery’s home of Newtown it’ll have fans further afield too.
Beers like this, measuring in at 3.5% ABV, work out at exactly one standard drink when they come in a can this size. It makes it useful when keeping track of your alcohol intake.
Akasha Little Smith IPA
Akasha’s Little Smith IPA absolutely smashes through any arguments against “session IPA” being its own style. It’s light in alcohol, moderate in body, but huge in flavour and aroma.
It has all the hallmarks of a classic Akasha beer and you can see the influence of Akasha founder Dave Padden.
Little Smith is a wonderfully flavourful and refreshing beer that is somewhat unbelievably only 3.5% ABV. It’s a ripper.
Modus Operandi Wippa Snippa Session IPA
Another session IPA to add to the list. Modus Operandi don’t scrimp on ingredients, preferring to work back from the beer they want to make and then pricing it accordingly.
Wippa Snippa is a hop-forward but sessionable mid-strength beer. It’s 3.8% ABV and you might pick up the malt character from some cereal like flavours but there’s also a fair whack of MO’s signature rasping bitterness at the back end. It punches out big orange pith and grapefruit flavours making it one of the more full-on session beers on this list.
4 Pines Pacific Ale
The naming of 4 Pines Pacific Ale has been questioned by many in the craft beer industry. The name “Pacific Ale” belongs to 4 Pines owners AB InBev but it has long been associated with and claimed by Stone & Wood Brewing Co. who have used it on their flagship Pacific Ale for around 10 years.
While 4 Pines have a right to create a beer called Pacific Ale, many have questioned whether they should have.
Either way, it’s a decent beer. Measuring in at 3.5% ABV it’s a good session option within the 4 Pines stable. It’s light bodied, incredibly clean and aromatic.
There’s a touch of menthol to the hop character but it’s pleasant and refreshing. As it becomes increasingly available in bottles and on tap at a good price point, it’ll attract many new craft beer drinkers.
Sauce Piss Weak Sauce
Despite the questionable name, Piss Weak Sauce from Marrickville’s Sauce Brewing Co. is a well executed hoppy mid-strength session IPA.
It has a light body but prominent zesty citrus flavours from a bunch of hops. It balances some subtle malt with relatively low bitterness making it easy to drink a couple of them.
Sauce’s Piss Weak Sauce won The Crafty Pint’s mid-strength blind tasting which adds to its credentials.
Wayward Raspberry Berliner Weisse
Formerly known as Sourpuss, Wayward’s Raspberry Berliner Weisse is not your typical mid-strength. It’s a raspberry sour beer which might scare some people off if they’re new to craft beer. It is, however, one of the best beers being produced and packaged in Sydney. It comes in beautiful and crushable cans and is low in alcohol.
It’s light, tart, fruity and supremely refreshing. It’s one to pick up in a four pack.
Wildflower Table Beer
A slightly more esoteric beer than others on this list but one that must be tried. It’s only available at Wildflower Brewing & Blending’s cellar door in Marrickville but it’s worth picking up.
It comes in a 750ml bottle which is simply labelled, usually in marker pen, “TABLE”. It’ll also have a small sticker showing that it’s only 3% ABV. This beer is a nod to the Wildflower philosophy of sharing among friends and family. It’s something of the brewery’s house beer.
There’s a long tradition of table beers, going back to when workers on central European farms would be kept hydrated with low alcohol beers. Or beer would simply be brewed to preserve ingredients and then it would be shared at the dinner table. Wildflower’s Table Beer preserves that tradition and opens up the possibility of some fantastic moments.
Do you have a favourite mid-strength beer? Leave a comment below and share which low alcohol beers you like to drink.