Inherent Flaw In Session IPA's

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by bfitzge2, Apr 12, 2015.

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  1. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,016) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Session IPAs are a difficult beer to brew, and few breweries have learned the secret. Hops always have an intense flavor, but they need to be balanced with malt, but when you add the malt to balance the hops, you've also added ABV. That goes counter to the 'session' concept, thus the quandary for the brewer. Finding the right malt that has flavor with minimal sugar is the trick, but few brewers have figured it out. Founders All-Day has been the only one that I've had, and I was quite satisfied with it doing what it's supposed to do.
    HopSavant, bfitzge2, Gajo74 and 2 others like this.
  2. Tripel_Threat

    Tripel_Threat Poo-Bah (2,942) Jun 29, 2014 Michigan
    Society Trader

    My vote? Ectoplasmo.
    PatrickCT likes this.
  3. DrRambis

    DrRambis Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2014 New Jersey

    Boat boat boat boat boat boat beer (Jersey)
  4. Tripel_Threat

    Tripel_Threat Poo-Bah (2,942) Jun 29, 2014 Michigan
    Society Trader

    I don't know what dubbels you drink, but the ones I favor are 6% plus. If you can session those, yer a better man than I. I'm sleepy after one and a half.
  5. djsmith1174

    djsmith1174 Initiate (0) Aug 21, 2005 Minnesota

    Yeah, I imagine brewing this style without the hops literally smacking you in the face in the absence of a generous malt backbone would be quite difficult to produce.
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  6. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,016) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    And I forgot to add that since IPAs are typically light colored, the brewer is limited to light-colored malts, which effectively translates into light-flavored too.
    HopSavant likes this.
  7. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (2,324) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

  8. djsmith1174

    djsmith1174 Initiate (0) Aug 21, 2005 Minnesota

    Many folks that I've met who are just getting introduced to craft beer often have made that introduction with IPAs, so session IPAs may very well resonate well there as well when looking for something that is more drinkable. I have yet to try one, so I really do not know. I have seen them discussed many times here and I know they have many fans in the BA crowd as well.
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  9. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Initiate (0) May 29, 2011 Florida

    I think a lot of breweries could add some body building grain to their Session IPAs. I argue this quite often with other brewers. Throw in 5-10% flaked wheat or flaked barley.

    I am in complete agreement with the OP. To me, session IPA are really just light pale ales that are heavily hopped. Mouthfeel shouldn't be 1/10, still needs to have the mouthfeel of beer. The term session need apply only to the concept of abv.
    Scrapss and djsmith1174 like this.
  10. CheapHysterics

    CheapHysterics Initiate (0) Apr 1, 2009 Pennsylvania

    ... and Quads are my Dubbels.

    There is a big difference in the ABV of a typical session IPA compared to a typical pale ale. About 2 - 3%, which matters a lot of the course of a few beers.
  11. AugustusRex

    AugustusRex Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2013 Canada (ON)

    I think that the US craft scene should move toward UK cask ales, such as bitters and milds rather than session IPAs.

    Don't get me wrong, I love American IPAs on tap, but when it comes to session ale, the British do it better.
    dangle47, colforbin73, Jsteez and 6 others like this.
  12. bfitzge2

    bfitzge2 Initiate (0) Jul 21, 2010 Massachusetts

    My original post hoped to dive a little deeper into one facet of the style I find particularly problematic, and see if more knowledgeable BA's had some insight.
    JohnnyHopps and djsmith1174 like this.
  13. ChuckHardslab

    ChuckHardslab Initiate (0) Jan 25, 2012 Texas

    I dunno, maybe it's because I like a lot of different styles, but I've never really been attracted to session IPA's. I'd much rather drink a style that's already 'sessionable' on its own.
  14. PorterPro125

    PorterPro125 Champion (850) Jan 19, 2013 Canada (NB)

    I've had quite a few and there has really only been one that I've thoroughly enjoyed: Muskoka Detour (Bracebridge, Ontario)

    All of the same things that a good full-strength IPA has: Excellent body and a great balance of malt and hop flavours.

    Lots of citrus and pine hoppiness that I've come to love (albeit not the same intensity) in a 4.3% ABV package. The ultimate hoppy summer beer IMHO.
    djsmith1174 likes this.
  15. Brolo75

    Brolo75 Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2013 California

    My only experience with session IPAs is Easy Jack and I was quite impressed. It was pretty hoppy up front and very easy to drink. For what it is, its great, but when compared to IPAs it lacks a lot of characteristics. IPAs and IIPAs are far greater but if I want to have a few beers without a high ABV then I have no problem grabbing a six pack of Easy Jack.
  16. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (854) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I love the session IPA. Boat is not considered an IPA but it is my favorite

    Even keel
    Easy jack
    Slow ride
    Blue point mosaic..... Is this still made?
    Pinner is pretty good
    Day time

    All day I think is horrible. Sure I missed a few others I tried but overall I like the low abv with the good hops.

  17. Pantalones

    Pantalones Devotee (453) Nov 14, 2014 Virginia

    Heh, yeah, I never said that marketing a dubbel as a "session" beer would make any sense at all (I would probably be getting pretty sleepy if I had multiple dubbels in a row, too -- definitely more in the "when I want to sit for a while and enjoy one really good beer" category for me.)

    Was just a random thought based on your mention of how ridiculous it would be to see a "session quad" and how a "session IPA" is just a lighter, lower-ABV version of a regular IPA -- which sounds pretty much like the opposite of the difference between dubbels and quads.

    Though I wouldn't go so far as to say they should ditch the session IPAs entirely (I liked the one I've tried so far, after all), moving more toward milds and bitters would be nice. I've been wanting to try some of the English ale styles, but it seems like they're borderline impossible to find, while you can find half a dozen different IPAs of various strengths in every grocery store (...heck, even most little gas station stores probably carry at least one IPA in their beer fridge now.)

    I think I've seen a couple of bitters of various strengths show up in variety packs from some breweries, and I did really enjoy New Belgium's 2 Below Ale (classified as an ESB on here), but I've never seen any kind of English mild or bitter in six-pack format, or on tap at any restaurant I've been to... the only one I've seen being sold by itself at all is Foster's ale in the big green can (...and if not for this site's categories I wouldn't have known that's what kind of beer it was, since all the can says is "Premium Ale" which is about as vague as you can get.)
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  18. marquis

    marquis Champion (803) Nov 20, 2005 England

    No.The name was borrowed from the UK where it's an industry standard.Practically all brewers and pubs have at least one session beer.It's simply easy drinking beer of 4% ABV maximum.

    If you get palate fatigue then it wasn't really a session beer. The idea is that they are moreish leaving you to want another and another. Being low strength you can get away with it.
    See my first reply. Session has to be 4% or under

    All beers with PA as part of the name are by definition Pale Ales.Some are weak, some strong, some hoppy but Pale Ales nevertheless.

    If you don't state quite what you mean by a term it becomes meaningless.Any beer over 4% dehydrates the drinker and unless you indulge in the idiocy of drinking water with your beer you can't drink it all day.
    CTbrew32, champ103 and fx20736 like this.
  19. desint

    desint Poo-Bah (2,038) May 10, 2010 Belgium
    Society Trader

    I guess the whole point of a session ipa is that the taste shouldn't be too pronounced. All those 'hopbombs' are just too much after a while.
    Not an ipa but very bitter & hoppy, Taras Boulba has a low abv but I never drink/enjoy more than 2.
    It seems my tastebuds get numb after a few (low or high abv).
  20. fx20736

    fx20736 Initiate (0) Mar 7, 2009 New York

    'Session IPA' is nothing more than a marketing phrase invented by American Craft Brewers to re-brand the Pale Ale so that neophyte beer drinkers who don't know what the acronym 'IPA' stands for will buy more beer.
    Jsteez, bfitzge2 and Scrapss like this.
  21. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (141) Dec 6, 2014 California

    I don't find any of those traits in either Daytime, Go To, or Easy Jack. Haven't had Founders'...
  22. BigJim5021

    BigJim5021 Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2007 Indiana

    Count me in the "never had one that I've liked" crowd. If I'm drinking something in the 4% range it's gonna be a gose or a Berliner weiss.
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  23. Zh78888

    Zh78888 Initiate (0) Nov 2, 2014 North Carolina

    except for superfun! and boat, every session ipa i've had seems a lot like a dry hopped miller lite.
    bfitzge2 likes this.
  24. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,142) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    Yeah, because you HAVE to drink them. You're not able to just choose something more to your liking.
    chcfan, HeislerGold and Jacobier10 like this.
  25. NYR-Zuuuuc

    NYR-Zuuuuc Disciple (332) Jan 1, 2013 Connecticut

    Thought Pinner was good as well as Boat Beer. Really liked Lawsons Super Session #4 (Galaxy).
  26. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,142) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    Carton does call it an IPA on their website description.
  27. Scrapss

    Scrapss Meyvn (1,023) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Balance. It is what's missing. Still have yet to try pinner. Still would rather have Sunshine Pils or Straub Pilsner at this point. Just more appealing to me.
  28. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (2,406) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey

    Haha I know nobody forces me to drink them and I have nothing against people who enjoy them. I just haven't found a single one that I like. Different strokes for different folks.
  29. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,142) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    Haha I know, just busting. What did you think of Boat? I don't think it has that overly thin or watery feel that some other session IPAs have.
  30. LMT

    LMT Initiate (0) Oct 15, 2009 Virginia

    I think Carton Boat Beer's Kolsch malt is what makes it incredibly tasty.
  31. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (2,406) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey

    Good call. Boat is far and away the best I've had and I did give it a good rating. For some reason I never think of it as a Session IPA. Probably because it's so different from the majority of them.
    DrStiffington likes this.
  32. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,741) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Palate fatigue and Abv imo are not related. Session ipas are imo are overly bitter due to the lack of malt balance, it's the bitter that causes fatigue not the Abv. I've had English bitters that were nicely bitter , well balanced and under 4% Abv. Session and ipas imo just don't work, maybe an Amber, or Brown Ale, but by its nature ipas are a bit higher in alcohol, so to lower the Abv you kill the malt balance. I love bitter but I hate session IPAs, they're a waste of time and money, imo of course, and for my palate.
  33. fearfactory

    fearfactory Aspirant (296) Aug 12, 2012 Massachusetts

    Session beers fill a special niche for me. It's what I bring on excursions, so gotta be canned, easy to drink, sits light in the stomach, with 4% max. Perfect for outdoor activities, and I don't mean sitting on a riding mower!
  34. marquis

    marquis Champion (803) Nov 20, 2005 England

    What I meant by palate fatigue is when you simply feel that enough is enough. Stuffing a low ABV beer with hops makes for unbalanced beer and your palate soon gets tired of it.
  35. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,741) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    one Session Ipa is enough, and I'm an ipa guy. I love Lawson beers, they are across the board spectacular, except their session ipa which is typical session. I think it was a Citra based brew, but it was stunningly bitter, too much so. I'll just drink one less of a regular beer and I'm good.
  36. Gajo74

    Gajo74 Poo-Bah (2,798) Sep 14, 2014 New York
    Society Trader

    I agree with most posters. Session IPAs, while hoppy, lack that malt backbone that make it so flavorful. Besides, I like regular IPAs so much that I can have more than one even when they are at full strength.
  37. AlexanderSelby

    AlexanderSelby Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2010 Maine

    Light and hoppy. Nothing wrong with that. Don't over think it.
  38. chimneyjim

    chimneyjim Initiate (62) Jun 23, 2004 Oregon

    get thee to Oakridge
    mudbug likes this.
  39. bluehende

    bluehende Poo-Bah (2,440) Dec 10, 2010 Delaware

    I am one that would love a good session IPA. I agree they have a hard task of not being able to add a ton of grain and need to balance that in the category of a hoppy beer. Most I do not like at all. Founders was good and I really liked one I tried from Troegs the other day. I think the troegs one is a one off , but well done at 4.1%. I am the perfect demographic for a nice session IPA. I spend a lot of time at the beach and love to body board. I want a nice beer, but not much alcohol. A good session IPA would be a perfect refreshing beer that would not kill my next session. This style if you want to call it that of beer is very hard to pull off. As a group it has been my least liked style as a group, but I will keep trying and stick with the two if I can get them.
  40. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    I'll leave the bold thought here that it's actually an inherent flaw in the American drinkers mentality and is something which closely mimics American mentality as a whole. That is that excess is best. We have an issue with subtlety. A thread like this is probably not as common as a beer noob thread saying they only drink _____, _____ fanboy beer and precede to bash BMC as fizzy yellow water and toot about it being poorly made. Which I'll counter with the ultimate fanboy brewer Shaun Hill who dismisses that amateur, I'm new here thinking wholesale. The real reality is that those beers commonly called pisswater are the hardest to make and take the longest to master.
    These two complaints and their base misunderstandings are rooted in the same lamentation over subtlety. We don't get it. We especially don't get it because we are also recovering from the hangover of mono culture and its big box one size fits all mentality. So, our rejection of that insists that its logical response be loud, brash, in your face and annoying even. i.e. completely unbalanced, and kind of a hot mess. Thus, we need to get bashed over the head to understand the point and its shock of newness because that is a quintessential aspect of being an American. Why jump over a pit? That's boring. Jump a pit filled with alligators, fire ants, gorillas on horseback and a fire-ring on either side? Now we're talking! That's sort of what Session IPA's are doing in my mind. There's such a narrow window for them to be successful in what they set out to do as well that I think they are hugely wasteful of the resources they are showcasing.
    Jsteez and zid like this.
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