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Alpha Session - Drake's Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alpha SessionAlpha Session

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

59 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 59
Hads: 189
Avg: 3.97
pDev: 12.09%
Wants: 17
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 59 | Hads: 189
Photo of axeman9182
2.81/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle from afrokaze. It was poured into my Bruery tulip.

Alpha Session pours tangerine, lightening towards lemon yellow when properly backlit. Visibility through the glass is low. There's maybe a finger of white foam, and it doesn't do a ton in terms of either head retention or lacing. The nose has a strange, out of place sulfur-y aroma right out in front. I think there's a little bit of lightly citric tropical fruits appreciable as well, but sulfur is far and away in charge. Thankfully, it's much more faint in the flavor profile. There's no real malty flavor present to speak of, this one's 100% hops. The bitterness, while clocking in at just 50 IBUs, really jumps out thanks to the super light frame. There's both some pineapple and mango, and a bit of pine present in the finish. The body's very light, too light in fact for my taste, as it doesn't support or lay a foundation for the hops at all. The carbonation's nice and slightly lively though. I admire Drake's for taking a shot at brewing such a low alcohol hop bomb, but Alpha Session's light on malt to the point of tasting like straight hop juice to me, and that's not something I'm particularly looking for in a beer.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
3.04/5  rDev -23.4%
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.

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Photo of jjh19
3.05/5  rDev -23.2%
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.

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Photo of mactrail
3.12/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Blonde ale with a brief flirtation of suds. Some hoppy aroma, an extremely light body, and a dissipating fizz.

Seems rather tasty for a couple of sips. Then the carbonation runs out and it tastes just bitter and a little metallic. Maybe it's meant to be served on tap, and drunk in a couple of chilling draughts.

I'm a Drake's fan, so I always try any new beer of theirs. I'm always happy to see low-alcohol beers with some flavor. However, I find it hard to call this any kind of English style, with the piney hops. More of an American Extra Pale Ale. I suppose it's not expensive as bombers go, but at $5.99 that would be over $18 a six pack, which seems extortionate for what it is.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled I brought to share at drewone’s tasting.

Pours a slightly murky honey yellow with a beige head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of citrus zest, grapefruit, and some slightly catty hop aromas. Taste is of malt and some earthy and citrus zest hop flavors. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty average beer with a better smell than taste in my opinion.

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Photo of Zorro
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%
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.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.34/5  rDev -15.9%
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.

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Photo of adsomers
3.36/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Had this on tap and in a bottle.

A - Straw color, lively carbonation produces a decent head which subsides to a flat surface after a minute or two. Just think diet coke WRT head retention.

S - Smell is dominated by dank nuggy hop aromas, with a backdrop of citrus and a faint waft of pine. While I love intensely hoppy beers, I am not a fan of the "dank" thing. But they don't lose any points for that. The aroma comes through very well.

T - Tatse seems to pull the veil off the hop flavors that are usually blended in with malt character i.e. subtle grassy and vegetal notes. This along with the dank foresty hop character are what this beer tastes like to me. No malt character whatsoever. Probably as close as you can get to carboned hop tea.

M - Thin and unremarkable. Lively carbonation makes me think of seltzer.

D - Yeah, you can suck down a lot of this beer, but it's not as enjoyable as an equivalently hopped pale ale or IPA. In other words I'd rather drink 12 oz. of Aroma Coma than 22 oz of this.

O - Overall it's a very well exectued hoppy session beer, but I think they could have gotten away with adding something to bring back the body. Also I think the "dank" thing doesn't work well all by itself. Maybe if they had focused on the tropical fruity hops I'd be a lot happier with it.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.38/5  rDev -14.9%
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.

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Photo of gpogo
3.52/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

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Photo of Offa
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
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.

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Photo of RyanK252
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%

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.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Always glad to see some sessionable options out there. Tulip glass.

A: Pours a light straw color, clear like water, with a finger of air, almost yellowish head. Pretty good retention but almost no lacing.

S: Lots of nice, light hop flavor (juicy orange), biscuity and slightly nutty malt.

T: Similar, orange-y with dry malt and a long finish of mild bitterness.

M: Medium-high carbonation and medium-light body.

O: Decently drinkable, but I think limited by the bitterness, mild though it may be. It kind of drowns out what flavor there is. The citra is nice, though.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.71/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of jethrodium
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at Beer Revolution. Pours a clear light amber with a small white head settles to a ring and leaves some light lacing on the glass. The aroma is pine and grapefruit hops, a bit of biscuit, and a light mineral note. The taste is quite similar to the nose with pine, grapefruit, some orange, some biscuit, and also a light mineral note. The finish has a decent bitterness with more pine and grapefruit. Quite dry throughout. Light body. Medium carbonation. This was quite enjoyable. It was quite hoppy and dry, which I tend to enjoy. The price kind of defeats the purpose of the low alcohol content though because I won't be drinking several of them.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.79/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.

Pours an exceptionally clear yellow colour, with a forthy, large-bubbled head of white, that settles to an unassuming and relatively unappealing film. The body has a surprising weight to it given its exceptionally low ABV, and it's the only thing that makes me rate the appearance as other than extremely unappetising.

Ok, maybe the other thing is the aroma, which I snuck a sniff of beforehand anyway—it's wonderfully fresh, bright, fruity and hoppy, with the emphasis on the clean, crisp, bright West Coast resonance, along with a touch of something green, herbal and organic. It's perhaps only this which hints at its genesis in the English style. Many other things prove that this does not truly fulfill that style.

Taste is a lot weaker, but you probably expect that in a beer that is intentionally designed as a sessioner. Quite a clean, light, herbal hop fragrance through the centre, with some rosemary, pepper and leafiness, but with almost nothing underneath: perhaps just a moderated grain character that holds in in check, but doesn't really support the hop flavours. It's certainly sessionable, and far from unpleasant. Feel is smooth enough and suitable for what it is.

Pretty drinkable brew, with much to offer. This is not making a play for best beer in the world, but it sure is refreshing, clean, easy to drink and enjoyable. Very decent drop.

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Photo of Philousa
3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with great clarity. I can see the bubbles from start to finish as they rise to the top of the drink. Color is pale gold and tawny. Good amount of head dies quickly and slips off the glass back into the drink. Super piney! This smells like one hoppy beer. All the "C" hops are present to make this a truly west coast ale. Bark, citrus, & grapefruit on top of the pine. A faint hint of very mild malt lies behind. The hops want to hit the tongue first but fizzle from tingly oil flavor to very bitter dry pale malt. American 2 row is very prevalent, but it's very dry - like bark - and a bit harsh on the tongue. Some nuttiness and biscuit/animal cracker malt flavor. Balanced feel, finish is a bit dry.

This is deceiving. Smells mike a supper hoppy pale or IPA, but taste isn't bitter from hops at all. I'd suspect they have to tone down the bitterness since the ABV isn't as high. Instead, this tastes like an English Bitter wrapped in a West Coast IPA's aroma. Very interetesting. Hopefully they'll continue to brew it as a seasonal in the future.

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Photo of PhilDaBrewer
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a hazy gold, with a soft white head, some lace.

S: Citra and Simcoe so you know it's going to smell good. Lots of tropical fruit, mostly mango, some pineapple, guava.

T: Hop forward with a lot of bitterness. Some tropical fruit gets in there, but the carbonic acid is fighting in there too, which I don't really like to see.

M: Light-bodied, resinous/chewy hop character, interesting interplay.

D: Reminds me a lot of Humulus Session, with a raw hop flavour, low alcohol, but the malt is nowhere and allows the carbonic acid to be a major flavour unfortunately. If you're going to make these mini IPAs, I'd add a little more malt. They always smell great, but taste is where it counts.

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Photo of popery
3.89/5  rDev -2%
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.

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Photo of peacebone116
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bomber into an Allagash tulip.

A: Bright straw body with white wisps at the center and rim of glass, the only remnants of the head that fizzled out quickly quickly after the pour was complete.

N: Hops--pine, and citrus reminiscent of grapefruit and a touch of sweetness.

T/M: This is all hops. The bitter flavor dominates, but the body is incredibly light. The pine and grapefruit hit quickly and stay up front, but they fade quickly away giving it up to a hint of yeasty fruitiness that really comes across too much as a sulfuric flavor. Carbonation is prominent and ample, perfect for the thin mouthfeel.

This is a very great session ale. I love the hop dominated flavor even though the body is a bit lacking. The hop aroma and flavors turn this beer from an otherwise boring light ale into a complex and easy drinking beverage that makes a great fit for a Memorial Day refresher. I do wish this had just a little bit more of a mouthfeel considering the price range (~$8/bomber from the liquor store), but I understand what the brewer was going for. Cheers, Drake!

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Photo of kaseydad
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

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Photo of pallison123
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of BennyL1
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to schwartzoid - 22oz bottle into a standard pint. No freshness info that I could see.

This session brew pours a good copper color with a thin white head that doesn't stay around very long. Some lacing on the glass but nothing to remarkable.

Nose is slightly malty with some good hop aroma in the background. Hops are mostly of the citrus variety with a hint of pine.

First taste is that of citrus hops with a nice amount of bitterness. Some bready malt undertones add a pleasant touch to the beer. Very tasty for a lower ABV brew. The mouthfeel is really nice as well. The carbonation is lively with a lighter body that makes it supremely drinkable.

This is how a session beer should be done. Low alcohol without sacrificing flavor. Really enjoyed this one.

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Alpha Session from Drake's Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 59 ratings.