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I live in Portland which is to say, I drink a lot of beer. A lot of different beers, that is. Okay, a lot of beer and beers... I was recently in a shop with more varieties of beer than Lady Gaga has costumes, and as I was eyeing the bottles I was mentally going through my checklist of "had it, had it, had it, oh... that's new... had it, had it..."
One thing about beer is that you have pretty limited packaging. There's the 12 oz can that we all know, there's the tall boy can that they know down by the tracks, there's the 12 oz bottle, and the 22 oz bottle. And that's about it.
Except for a couple bottles that are almost iconic for their brand, like Mickey's Wide Mouth Malt Liquor (which you won't catch me drinking) and Red Stripe, the chuggable Jamaican lager which you can catch me drinking if you're quick -- it goes down fast.
So I was a little surprised when I came across Session Lager from Full Sail Brewing in Hood River, Oregon a few years ago.
At first, I actually thought it was new variety of Red Stripe. If it was only the bottles that looked so much alike, that would be one thing, but the only beer I've ever seen in that bottle is Red Stripe. Session uses the same red from Red Stripe, albeit a lot more red and very little white, and it made me think "red stripe" or at least "red label."
Then there's the font. Not exactly the same, but similar flowing, serif font. The familiar "S" from "Stripe" seems to kick off the "S" in "Session" and, overall, it feels like an extension of the Red Stripe brand, not an entirely different brand.
They named it "Session" because it's a beer you can drink all day without building up a substantial buzz (unlike my friend Old Rasputin that I recently blogged about). As with Red Stripe, you can toss one back pretty fast on a summer day. Session is a little higher alcohol, and a slightly smaller bottle (11 oz) and, when you drink them, you aren't going to get confused. Session is a Northwest brew -- more flavor than its Jamaican friend.
I'm going to call this less of Brand Identity Theft and more a friendly nod from the chilly waters Hood River in Oregon to the warm beaches of Hunts Bay in Jamaica. And I'll happily drink either until I nod off in the Caribbean sun.