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Most of us don’t pay much attention to the alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage in our beer, but we should. Why? Because when was the last time you had just one beer?

Chris Lohring, brewer and founder of Notch, an American session beer (any beer known to have less than 5 percent ABV) is a Salem resident and longtime Massachusetts brewer. Lohring came to be a pioneer in the craft beer movement by creating a beer that you could drink more of—not only because it was darn good beer, but it also has moderate alcohol content—less than 4.5 percent ABV.

First, a little history lesson on session beers. Let’s take a look at the beer drinking habits of countries known for their capacity to consume more than a few pints: Great Britain and the Czech Republic. A hard day’s work always ends in a pub, where conversation and frosty mugs of beer flow freely. The idea of session, or lower alcohol beer, was born out of their love of flavorful beer and the desire to keep their wits about them.

Lohring is also an independent brewer, which means he makes Notch at other facilities, including Ipswich Ale Brewery. But he says a taproom, a beer garden, and a production facility are in the works in Salem. He’s most known for his flagship session Pils, a crisp, herbal Czech-style lager, available in cans, bottles, and on tap at many bars and restaurants. But Lohring has a unique range of beers—from his Left of the Dial IPA, The Mule Corn Lager, and a Valley Malt BSA, an American farmhouse ale that uses barley from Western Massachusetts farmers.

“I like presenting either new styles or styles that are a departure from how United States brewers typically brew a style. I also like beers that are dry. Sweetness in beer is something I really don’t like, so beers that showcase a clean dry finish (which could be hoppy, malty, or even tart) are what I like to brew.” With Thanksgiving on the horizon, Lohring says a great counter to serving wine with the bird is his Cerne? Pivo, a Czech-style black lager that he brews each winter, which is malty, toasty, and rich— and only four percent ABV.

So go ahead, have another beer. Thanks to Notch, we can all be sessionable.


Notch beer is sold at most local package stores on the North Shore, or you might try a pint—or two—at the following establishments: Lobster Shanty, Naumkeag Ordinary, Opus, and Turner’s Seafood in Salem; Barrel House in Beverly; Short & Main in Gloucester; Black Cow in Hamilton; C. K. Pearl in Essex; and Salt in Ipswich.