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Alpha Session - Drake's Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alpha SessionAlpha Session

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

187 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 187
Reviews: 59
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 16
Gots: 7 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Drake's Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  3.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: largadeer on 11-30-2010

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 187 | Reviews: 59
Photo of RyanK252
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%

Bottle poured into a BarrelHouse Brewing Co pint glass

A: Pours golden yellow with an off white head

S: Citrus hops and a little malt sweetness.

T: Citrus hops, orange with a little sour lemon and grapefruit, a touch of pine, and backed with just enough light malt. Clean finish.

M: Light body, light carbonation.

O: I'm not crazy about session IPAs in general and overall there's really nothing super special about this beer. That being said, it is quite drinkable and serves a purpose as a very sessionable beer.

Photo of scottfrie
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottles into an imperial pint.

A: Pours a clear honey golden with a couple fingers of soft white head that faded into a lasting thin film and collar. Fine streaks of sticky lace were left down the glass.
S: Light notes of bready cracked grains, pale malts, and a good dose of leafy hops come through on the nose. I get hints of perfume and juicy hops as well.
T: A great balance of pale malt and citrus hops. Malts are really grainy and bready, and the hops are sweet, citrusy, with a touch of fruit nectar and bitter pine. The finish is full of cracked pale grains, and the aftertaste is leafy and lightly bitter. Occasionally I get a hint of passion fruit.
M: Medium-light body, tingly splashy carbonation, fuzzy, soft and clean mouthfeel.
O: As expected, extremely easy drinking. Grainy as heck. Juicy and fruity hops balance the grainy pale malt. Smooth and easy. Love it.

Photo of jjh19
3.05/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Golden yellow and very clean looking. A good looking beer.

Smell: A nice whiff of mild, crisp hops.

Taste: Hmmm. Disappointing. Just hit flat and card-boardey on my first 2 or 3 tastes. And it didn’t get better from there. Everything was muted and stale tasting. Hopefully just not a great bottle.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied.

Drinkability: This one didn’t have it for me - I could not recommend. My tasting history with Drake’s is solid. I probably just didn’t have a great example of this beer. I’m sure my next Drake’s will be terrific.

Photo of PorterPotty
4.44/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sure do love the time a year when Alpha Session is available. As somebody who appreciates a low ABV beer, this hoppy monster is one of my favorites.

Appearance- Yellowish Gold

Aroma- Pine and some tropical fruits

Taste- Piney, but not overwhelmingly. Subtle carbonation.

Drinkability- I can slam it or sip it, either way I love it.

Photo of pallison123
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour: Into a standard English pint glass. 1/2 inch firm, white head. Stands up over course of the 'session'. Plenty of lacing as the pint worked its way down.

Color: Sunburst yellow. Bright. Bubbly

Flavor: Very dry, with a perfect balance of hops and refined, but shy maltiness. No sweetness to speak of - thankfully. This beer is unabashedly dry, keeping the hops present without overwhelming.

Session character: Alpha Session weighs in at a perfect 3.8% ABV Thank you Drakes for making a beer for all seasons, that pairs well with snacks and dinners and provides a nice beer to have several of while hanging out with friends and family.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ Beer Belly

A - Slightly cloudy yellow/orange colour a thin layer of off white head.

S - Citrus, pine, tropical fruit, honey.

T - Sharp bitterness with juicy grapefruit, pine and orange zest flavours and a touch of honey sweetness in the background.

M - Light body. Oily and sticky. Light carbonation.

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Very slight haze on a solid gold color. Head is bright-white and drops to a super thin collar. Wisps of a cap. Not much really. Moderate carbonation on the pour.

Smell: Straight from the pour it's Simcoe. Bitter oily pine. Citra pulls next with a nice hit of mango and tangerine. Some dank weed. Herbal with a big punch of citrus as well. Malts are light and bready. Slightly, every so slightly sweet. Dry-hopped for days. Bitter and fruity.

Taste: So very light, but hoppy as can be. Dry-hop explosion. Oily pine needle, straight bitterness, tangerine, mango, and grapefruit. Pith. Even some mint in the back. Malts are hyper light. Some fruity sweetness. Some toasted elements with a light bready thing. So very easy. Pale malts. Some cracker.

Mouthfeel: Light pushing toward medium body with a moderate carbonation. Clean and super easy drinking.

Overall: Prime session numero uno.

Just send me more of this. I will be your friend.

Photo of Sarlacc83
3.04/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

On tap at Apex

A: Dull copper color with a crisp bubbly white head.

N: Lots of pineapple and grapefruit. Some pine and earth, though I'd call this fairly non-descript.

T: The taste is moderately bitter with a light sweetness. There's not much to say about this other than that it's clean.

M: Light and moderately sticky.

O: A decent quaffer. Not something I'd order very often (and I had some high hopes for it, because a 3.8% session beer is a great thing), but it does work to refresh the palate.

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.79/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours a semi-hazy, light golden color with an off-white, near 2 finger head. Fair retention, giving way to a thin but everpresent film of bubbles across the top. Small, spotty lacing with good stick.

Smell - Strong citrus aroma. Orange essence and grapefruit. Moderate pine. Light bready notes sit beneath.

Taste - Strong hop character from start to finish. Grapefruit and orange pith bitterness. Hints of pine follow shortly. Light, but noticeable bready malt presence. Finishes with an orange rind bitter quality.

Mouthfeel - Light in body with crisp, lively carbonation. Goes down smooth and easy before a semi-dry finish.

Overall - An aptly names brew, Alpha Session clocks in at 3.8% but kicks like your classic West Coast IPA hop bomb. Lots of strong citrus flavor presented in a light, refreshing body. Somewhat reminiscent of Deschutes Twilight and Widmer Citra Blonde. Good summer brew.

Photo of PhilDaBrewer
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Let me start out with what this beer is not: It is not a great IPA. It's too light in, well everything, to be a great IPA. Light bodied, light hoppy taste, light hoppy aroma. Light. It is however a very good SESSIONABLE IPA.
For a beer that's under 4% ABV, it has a TON of all the above. Citrus hop aroma, citrus hop taste, nice finish. In fact, it's actually kind of amazing. How do they pack so much flavor into such a light beer? If you want a great IPA, try something else, if you want a beer that you can drink all day without getting completely snookered, you can't do much better than this.

Photo of Greywulfken
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: into a pint, golden beer with a few fingers of whitish head; foam persisted all the way down, but the cap was alittle scummy-looking; some lace arms

S: wet and toasted grains, herbal and floral hops, bright yeastiness

T: way more flavorful than I expected - follows the nose insofar as the malts and hops; some toasty flavors, nice herbal suggestions, very nice bitterness level

M: light, brisk, crisp, fuzzy/sparkly carbonation, drying finish

O: I do not session drink, but got this thanks to jdhowe, and I wasn't really expecting much. A really nice beer. Very drinkable ('natch), and a well-rounded pale ale - the malts, hops, and yeasts meld perfectly.

Photo of flayedandskinned
4.39/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 5/22/13
poured into the Sierra Nevada/Dogfish IPA glass

Appearance: (4.25)
Pours a crystal clear blond with a sizable, 3 fingers tall off white head. The head has great retention and leaves a nice web of lacing behind as it slowly recedes.

Aroma: (4.5)
Positively bursting with very bright and astringent tropical fruit; kiwi, peach, passion fruit, mango and of course, grapefruit. There is a moderate pine-y earthiness that adds some welcomed depth and contrast to the very tropical centric hop aroma. Underneath the juicy hops, there is a faint cracker-like malt presence.

Taste: (4.25)
Grapefruit and lemon peel immediately slap your palate with an accompanying note of earthy pine resin. The beer closes very dry with a kiss of a light cracker malt backbone before the long, lingering and very nuanced, bitter hop finish. Lively and very refreshing.

Mouthfeel: (4.5)
Crisp, light body with moderate to high carbonation.

Overall: (4.5)
A phenomenal, refreshing ale that packs in a ton of hop expression and flavor in a session-able ABV format. I do wish that the tropical notes that are found in the nose were carried over a bit more in the flavor profile, but over this is a Hop Head's dream of a session ale. Crisp, hoppy and refreshing, this is about as close to hop soda as one can get.
Highly recommended

Photo of magictacosinus
3.38/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Glad I nailed a single bottle of this recently - I wanted to see what all the fuss was about around here. I can't recall having a beer this low in ABV in a long time. Poured into a nonic pint glass out of a 12oz bottle.

Pours a very pale amber color, clear as they can be, with large patches of bubbles that eventually disperse and scatter about upward in random ways. About 3 fingers worth of head top the glass, and eventually descend to about a half finger of foam, which is pretty good considering what this is working with. Good retention. Barely any lacing. Looks like a solid rendition on the traditional British session style, only with an American twist.

The initial aroma consists of extremely bright, resinous hoppy phenols that I know Drake's for, ranging from pine, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, but that surprisingly goes away quickly. At first it's highly present, but I was surprised how much this changed over the course of 15 minutes. From the dried citrus flavor, it turns into a faded lemon/orange peel combo that melds with a light, biscuit-y graininess that is warm, albeit dull in comparaison to the initial burst of hops. Feels faded and empty over time. Barely any substance to the malts at hand. Sort of disappointing.

The flavor does luckily have a lot more going for it, and it's mainly due to the malt and grain profile being far more accentuated here. There's a flavor of light cereal grains, lightly toasted barley, and slight earthiness awash with huge amounts of lemon peel, limes, and perhaps a touch of grapefruit. Even though this is 50 IBUs, I can barely notice the hop pungency. The flavors balance together well, and also benefit from the touch of sweetness from the alcohol, but something feels... Empty, flavor wise. I realize this is meant to be an easy drinking, authentic session beer, but I honestly feel this could be far more flavorful. It lacks stickiness from the hop resins, and I feel that if they opted for a more toasted, barley flavor that the pale golden variety, it'd be even closer to whatever they would be trying to go for here.

This does seem like a tricky beer to make, and with its good carbonation and solid mouthfeel, this never is a chore to drink, and indeed, the lightness with the slightly interesting hop profile makes this an ideal warm weather beverage. But I think it's too delicate for the style, and it loses a lot of initial gas way too fast right at the beginning. Quaffable, but not the most memorable Drake's offering.

Photo of Fatehunter
3.71/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured a nice looking finger and half of head on a hazy straw colored body with lot of bubbles.
The aroma is grain with some lemon and mandarin.
The taste is moderately bitter with a good malt to it without the sweetness.
It has a softer crisp texture with moderate carbonation.
Pretty nice.

Photo of jdhowe
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 05/06/13.

A: Pours a slightly cloudy golden color with a thin bubbly white head. A little cloudy, but otherwise very nice.

S: Smells strongly of piney and citrusy hops. The nose is much bigger than the 3.8abv "session" quality would suggest. Probably one of the best smelling low-abv beers I've had.

T: Strong in flavor, but really only in bitterness. Sure, it's a "NorCal Bitter." For only 50 IBUs I did not expect this to be nearly as bitter as it was, however, and I really would have loved a little more flavor from the hops to show through. This beer is less than a month old, so I doubt that it has lost its hoppy flavors, so I'm left concluding that it never had them in the first place. I expected very little malt flavor due to the low ABV, but the lack of hop flavor is a little shocking given the packaging emphasis on their dry-hopping. A bit of a let-down after the nose. Not bad, but I'm not excited to finish the rest of the 4-pack.

M: A nice, smooth, well carbonated, and highly drinkable beer. Very good session beer feel, but nothing special.

O: A nice beer. It smells fantastic, but I really wish the taste had followed the nose more closely.

Photo of KevT
4.21/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have had the beer both at the brewery and around town and have to say this beer tastes and smells way better when served at Drake's. This observation makes me think that this nice hoppy session beer probably is best when it is fresh and has been handled delicately.

Photo of popery
3.89/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle. Pours a light gold. It looks like there's a bit of haze in there, but it might be my imagination. Decent white head. Fine bubbles. Little lacing, decent retention. The aroma is crackery pale malt with lemon-pine-floral hops. It's a nice, bright hop flavor. A tad lighter than I'd like, but it's a minor complaint, and I'm probably expecting a bit much from a 3.8% abv beer. The taste is fresh and light. Just a touch of sugary malt sweetness but it's dry and refreshing, overall. Good floral pine hop flavor in the taste. Carbonation is normal. Light on the palate. Solid session beer. I just wish that it was available year-round and a bit cheaper.

Photo of elNopalero
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

This pours an amber tinged golden color with foam that rapidly dissipates. I get an aroma of lemony pine, citrusy hops upfront with just a hint of biscuit rounding out the finish. It tastes of lemony pine and a light biscuit note. Dryly bitter. It’s thinly bodied yet crisp and full flavored. A true sessionable beer.

Photo of Zorro
3.3/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pale amber ale with a small white colored head.

Smells hoppy with a strong grapefruit scent. Smells mostly of citrus and willow tree.

Starts out dry and mildly bitter. Pretty much an English Mild made with northwestern style hops. The result is basically a low alcohol West Coast IPA.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Overall and OK beer. Probably not buy another 4 pack of this though.

Photo of gpogo
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A- Lightly hazed clear deep yellow body with a small white head.

A- Fruity hop aroma. Grapefruit and peach and an enjoyable sweetness.

T- Moderate bitterness throughout, but not overpowering. That same aroma is present in the flavor with a nice slight sweetness. At first I was concerned it was a tad on the light side, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

M- Very light body and light to medium carbonation.

D- This beer is great for those warm days where you want to have a few beers, but don't want to spend the day drunk.

Photo of Offa
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a fairly good bitter, unusually good character for an American beer at this low abv, but not up to great English bitters.

Gold, slightly hazy, it has a medium off-white head soon thinning to ring.

Aroma is grapefruit, peach, hay.

Taste is light mineral, grapefruit, bread dough, light juicy sweetness with balancing grapefruit-rind bitterness. Aftertaste is a little too bitter, but not heavily so.

Photo of kaseydad
3.92/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked this bomber up for $6.99 at Whole Foods. Let's see...

Pours a pretty clear straw yellow pour with a decent amount of white foam on the top. Just sitting there staring back at me.

The aroma is light pineapple, nectarine, a touch of malt and sweet grapefruit. Really likeing this.

Guess I now know why they call this a bitter Nor Cal ale. Huge carbonated sip with a bubbly sensation bursting in the mouth. Bready, malty and yes...bitter. Hops are definitely generous and there is an overwhelming feeling that I am sucking on a grapefruit rind every sip. Well done.

Overall the price is a little steep for my liking but this a monster flavored ale for 3.8%. If you like a bitter , lightly malty ale then this is for you. Would like to see this in six packs...or hell...even four packs.

Nicely done.

Photo of Arbitrator
3.34/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass. From notes.

A: Pours a golden-copper body. It looks similar to their IPAs, but with less head retention.

S: This reminds me of some cask ales I had in London; they seem to have nailed the aroma. Dry grains and crackers make up the malt backbone; hops show a decidely West Coast influence of pine and citrus.

T: Bread and toasted malt; they are taken over by pine and a mild citrus flavor. Solid, but nothing that blows me out of the water. I'd classify this as an American Pale Ale (due to the hops used) rather than an English Bitter, but that's probably a handwavy argument.

M: Light-bodied. This hides the alcohol well. Nice and refreshing.

O: What kills this beer for me is the price. We're conditioned to expect ingredients to cost more for higher-gravity beers; they should, therefore, cost less for lower-gravity beers. And if Hermitage can release a sour for $3 / bomber, Drake's can surely do better than the $7 they're asking for this. Count me out.

Photo of ccrida
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On draught at zeitgeist, Alpha Session is clear gold with a small white collar leraving no lace.

Smell is skunky, piny hops. Pretty dank.

Tatse is also all hops. As evidenced by the abv, there very little malt, a little cracker.

Mouthfeel is on the thin, light side. Dry.

Drinkability is good, which is the point. Hop fix without the strenght of an IPA. Well done.

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.72/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wheee!! Hit me with your best hops!! Wow. This is a what?? You can make a "pale ale" this flavorful at such a low abv? Good lord, man.

This is straight up hop juice. I mean, just put those hops in a tea bag and steep it in some water already. A blast in your mouth that, somehow, remains a step below obnoxious and overbearing. As it warms, it gets extremely pleasant and sublime. This is, by far, the greatest session ale I have had to date. And add on top of that it's a "pale ale." (If this is a pale ale, I'd be very interested in what an IPA would be like, by these standards.)"

I don't really feel like searching for adjectives on this one. I just want to end this review and get back to the half pint I have left of it.

This is an amazing beer. The intensity might make it a sipper for some, but overall, this is one that would be worth trekking many miles for. Give it a minute to settle down and just sip and enjoy. Unbelievably amazing. This is why the tickers tick and the beer nerds hunt; to find the ones like this.

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Alpha Session from Drake's Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 187 ratings.