Great beer always comes with great stories. Usually, the stories are made while you're drinking... or afterwards when you're laughing about the memories made. But every once in a while, the story happens earlier.
This story takes place at my local grocery store. I was browsing for the perfect beer to kick off the weekend when Session lager caught my eye. I had never tried it before, but the distinct bottle shape told me they were going for a Jamaican lager feel (Jamaican Red Stripe is probably the most popular beer to use the stubby 11oz bottle).
Locally, Session comes in Lager and Black (dark lager). In some areas an IPA is available too, but not in L.A. I wanted to try them side by side, so grabbing a bottle of each I walked up to the counter to check out.
As soon as the woman at the counter saw what I was buying, she began bubbling with excitement. "My daughter LOVES this beer! I sent her to Jamaica for three weeks after she graduated, and she sent back SO many pictures of herself drinking this stuff."
Her: "No, it was high school."
Other employee: "What?! You sent your 18 year old daughter to Jamaica for a month by herself?!"
Her: "Yeah! My parents sent me to Hawaii for two weeks when I graduated high school. It was the best."
Now, regardless of what you think about sending your teenager to a Caribbean island after graduation, there's an important lesson to be learned here: Marketing works.
Session is not a Jamaican beer. As far as I can tell, you can't even buy it in Jamaica. It's brewed by Full Sail Brewery, in Hood River, Oregon.
Now, I'm not completely sure that Full Sail was intending to imitate Red Stripe when they started using the distinctive 11oz bottle (they market it as a pre-Prohibition style beer with an international flair), but it sure convinced my new friend in the checkout line. And if I'm honest, it had me going for a while too. If Session was in a typical 12oz bottle, I probably wouldn't have tried it. And I know for a fact that I never would have heard the story about Jamaica and connected with two people from my neighborhood in the process.
A little bit of the exotic, mixed with a pinch of curiosity and a low price tag brought Session from the shelf to my fridge. And that's good marketing! But we're only halfway there. Marketing might convince us to buy a beer once, but taste is what keeps us coming back. But before we get to that, let's look at Full Sail Brewery for a moment.
Full Sail Brewery
Founded in 1987, Full Sail was one of the first microbreweries to bottle beer. Their innovative process helped the burgeoning microbrewing movement evolve from draft beer only, to bottling. Today, Full Sail is the 9th largest craft brewery, the 17th largest overall brewery in the U.S. Despite their size, Full Sail maintains award-winning sustainable practices, helping protect one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Nose: Sweet molasses, hay, oats, horse feed. Dark smell for its light color!
Taste: Fruity champagne rolls onto smooth lager grains.
Nose: Mild nose, slightly sour.
Taste: Molasses and burnt oats, toasty. A pleasant dark lager, but not too standout.
Recommendation: I'm a huge fan of the Session Lager. This one hits it out of the park, so definitely give it a try. If you're looking for a stout that's on the lighter side and won't fill you up, you might want to give Session Black a try too.
Here's how it all happens:
If you're looking for a job in the brewing industry, check out Full Sail's career page. Like New Belgium in Colorado, they offer incredible benefits in a stunning location.