Each year, I poll the Western New York beer scene about what beer trends they feel are on the horizon, which often elicits calls for more lagers and lower ABV beers. While the clear beer revolution has yet to take hold on the market, Thin Man Brewery is doing their part to put more lower alcohol brews out into the market with the launch of a new session beer series.
Thin Man Head Brewer Rudy Watkins explains there were a number of reasons behind the new line of brews.
“The world, well, the U.S., needs more low ABV, flavorful and lower cost beer,” Watkins says. “I want to be able to sit down and have 4 or 5 pints of something and not be drunk. I want to sit down and have 4 or 5 pints of something and not spend $40. We haven’t really made beers like this before because the market was so hyper-focused on stronger IPAs and fruit sours, but that seems to be changing, so we’re launching this series to gauge interest.”
As for what to expect from these new beers, Watkins says “lower ABV (sub 5%) beers where the flavor is primarily driven by malt and yeast, traditional styles like English and Belgian beers, but also older school American beers such as pale ales, cream ales and light lagers.”
“I want something that is complex, low ABV and decidedly NOT the star of the show,” Watkins explains. “My wife and I always joke about Untappd reviews where people complain that a beer was “not overwhelming.” It’s OK to not be overwhelmed. If you’re constantly looking to be overwhelmed, you need help.”
The first release in the series, Starchild Mild English Dark Mild, is a traditional English dark mild with notes of coffee and caramel.
“We haven’t done a Mild before,” Watkins says. “I’ve had a handful of really, really well made Mild’s and they always make me happy. We could have launched with something more mainstream, like an Irish Stout, but this seemed like a fun curveball.”
If you didn’t know, Thin Man aren’t slouches in the lager and sessionable beer department. In addition to Pills Mafia, Tension Breaker and Yuppie Cadillac were two of my absolutely favorite lagers released over the past two years.
“I’ve had a handful of brilliant bitters and milds,” Watkins says. “Full Sail used to make (maybe they still do?) a beer called Session Dark that was killer. The cask at Flying Bison on Fridays is often a great session ale. A low ABV saison is one of my favorites too!”
These beers will be draft, and cask, only at first, but they could be canned if demands warrants.
“The more session beers out there the more people are exposed to them,” Watkins says. “The more exposure the greater the demand.”
You can currently find Starchild Mild English Dark Mild on tap at all three Thin Man locations.
Brian Campbell is co-founder and Brand Manager of the Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).