These things have many names as an “emerging” style trend, but the basic format is the same: (relatively) heavy on hops, low on alcohol.
To those of us in oppressive summer clients, the arrival of beers like Founders All Day IPA was like a cool breeze. A beer that was light but still had some oomph in the flavor department? Brilliant!
Here’s a solid list of what’s currently available from this style from Craftbeer.com and a break down on what the style is really all about:
“[Session IPAs are] kettle hopped (for bitterness up front) and dry hopped (for flavor and aroma after the boil) using similar quantities and varieties as a standard American IPA,” said Steele. “The brewers challenge here is twofold: first is achieving a good flavor balance in a beer that is so low in alcohol that there isn’t much else to balance the hop character with, and second, ensuring that the dry hop character doesn’t become overly vegetal, due to the lower alcohol content of the beer.”
That’s a pretty tall order. All Day IPA is the only one I can speak for thus far, but the results are impressive and have implications for well into football season, when session length tends to stretch around here.
Not everybody thinks it’s a great idea. Zythophile has some very well-considered dissent on the subject of the “new” style–that it is neither new (to the British) nor especially “session”-appropriate.
I enjoyed my pint. But I only wanted the one. Palate overload set in after just that single glass. And that means that, regardless of its strength, DNA New World IPA cannot possibly be a session beer.
I guess everyone has different tolerances in this area, and different definitions of a session. Personally, I have had no problem consuming All Day IPA for a session that lasted, well, all day! I’m excited to try some of these others if I can find them this far south.