Inherent Flaw In Session IPA's

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

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  1. Peter_Wolfe

    Peter_Wolfe Initiate (0) Jul 5, 2013 Oregon

    This is the crux of the issue that the first post describes. I think the problem is that a lot of brewers don't understand what they're trying to do: a session IPA should not be your normal IPA with the original gravity cut.

    The mash profile for most American style IPAs favors a highly fermentable wort; in my opinion a session IPA should arrive at a lower ABV not just by lowering the grain bill and OG, but also by lowering the fermentability of the wort by altering the mash profile. This is why those session ales in the UK are so delicious; they have a wonderful malt backbone in the finished beer and haven't been fermented so dry that the only thing left is hops and alcohol (their malt also tends to be just a little bit less modified than American malt - that reduces fermentability a little as well).

    If you are using a brewing calculator and you just plug in that you want 4.5 ABV instead of 6.5, all it's going to do is tell you how much to cut the grain. It's not going to tell you to alter the mash profile or maybe pick a different yeast strain with lower attenuation. The brewers that are making excellent session ales picked up that extra bit of knowledge somewhere.

    The hop portion, ironically, is probably the easy part.
    Ranbot, HuskyHawk, machalel and 10 others like this.
  2. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,682) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Maybe they use oats to increase mouthfeel/body?
  3. jlsims04

    jlsims04 Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2013 Illinois

    I love Oskar Blues Pinner. In my opinion this is the perfect summer beer. Its like like an AAL but loaded with hop deliciousness
  4. JoelAK

    JoelAK Initiate (0) Sep 10, 2014 New York

    Personally, I think with the advent of "West Coast" style of AIPAs, a great number of us are getting the junkie effect; we need bigger, bolder IPAs to satisfy our palates and anything with a lower ABV or fewer IBUs become less-than.

    I'm guilty of this, and over the winter I purposely did a reset - going back to lagers and pilseners, enjoying the style and subtleties without having that hop attack.

    Going back to IPAs now, in our area, Pinner and Easy came out at the same time, and I enjoyed both immensely, and have purchase multiple times. Some session IPAs still fall short for me (eg All Day), but it is great to enjoy an IPA without it being IBU/ABV nuclear weapon.

    A similar trend is going on in wine BTW. Robert Parker has been the ONE critic who has driven red wine styles for years now, pushing them to be ever great fruit and alcohol bombs, to the point that these show well in tasting because it is now a predominant style? Funny thing is that they don't necessarily drink well alone or pair well with food. There is a movement now back to light, cooler climate styles of reds that are wonderful, fruity and easy drinking. No bashing of those though - they are accepted for their expression of their style and grape. Interesting parallel IMO
  5. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,143) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    Exactly. An "IPA for everyday drinking."
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,942) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Jeff, did Jeremy Kosmicki discuss the mashing regime that use to make Founders All Day IPA?

    IMO, Peter (@Peter_Wolfe) hit the nail on the head here. Brewers have a number of tools including proper mashing methods to achieve a low ABV hoppy beer yet still have a beer that is not too watery.

    Augie (@augiecarton), what mashing regime do you use to make Boat Beer?

  7. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,826) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Or flaked barley? He didn't say.

    I don't remember him addressing that. They didn't say if they use a different yeast from 1056 for All Day.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  8. augiecarton

    augiecarton Initiate (190) Oct 22, 2010 New Jersey

    this phrasing was chosen before there was such a thing as a "session ipa." those words are meant to convey that you (or at least we) couldn't drink single/double ipas 4-6 a night every night, so this was a different thing to solve that. as i said it was greatly limited by what could fit simply on media, and that was the short hand we chose. had we come along later when "session ipa" was a market term we might have used it but i think it would have done less well.
    truth is boat is too yellow to be an ipa, too bitter and low alcohol to be a strict pale. it is what it is and all it is a session beer for people that were getting in trouble on doubles. works for some not for others and that's its job.
    but simply put "an ipa for every day drinking" means "different from the current ipa's" 4 years ago
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  9. augiecarton

    augiecarton Initiate (190) Oct 22, 2010 New Jersey

    boats bill is mostly 2 row with some flaked wheat and a touch of acidulated
  10. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,143) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    Either way it's delicious.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,942) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Do you mash at a high temperature like 158 degrees F? What is the final gravity for Boat beer?

  12. augiecarton

    augiecarton Initiate (190) Oct 22, 2010 New Jersey

    thanks as we grow we will get better at telling people what we mean. :slight_smile:
  13. augiecarton

    augiecarton Initiate (190) Oct 22, 2010 New Jersey

    40-45 minutes 64c 1.8/9 fg
  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,942) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Wow! That is a low FG. I am guessing that the Flaked Wheat increases the perception of body in that beer?

  15. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Defender (612) Nov 6, 2007 California

    Easy Jack finishes at about 1.6/7 and is mashed in at 63C. I wouldn't say it has a robust body by any means, but using oats, carapils, munich, and pale crystal all build some body into it despite the FG
    Ranbot, machalel and JackHorzempa like this.
  16. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Defender (612) Nov 6, 2007 California

    I just had Pinner for the first time today and thought it was a great beer. Bitterness was very mellow and the balance of hop aroma and malt was very nice. I've been wanting more low-abv, hop-focused pale ales for years now, and I can finally walk into a beer bar and have multiple options on tap. That's pretty cool.
  17. blockdude

    blockdude Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2014 California

    I agree, IPA's should not be over 7% abv in my opinion. Same goes for sours.
  18. Schnerds

    Schnerds Initiate (0) Mar 25, 2014 Pennsylvania

    I completely agree with this. I find one intriguing, like go to IPA, then I realize a) I cant drink a beer this bitter all day (purpose of the session beer) without the malt backbone that balances it out b) I don't want to spend over $40 on a case that I plan to session.
  19. Hanglow

    Hanglow Champion (809) Feb 18, 2012 Scotland

    Boat Beer looks like it would be a golden ale in the uk
  20. JScoot

    JScoot Initiate (0) Aug 27, 2014 Louisiana

    A Session IPA is just re-branding of a Pale Ale that wouldn't sell.
  21. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,744) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Not really, PAs are completely different even if the Abv is kinda scaled back a bit. Session IPAs are horribly bitter, to be honest I'd rather drink Miller Lite by a long shot if I'm at e beach, pool, out knocking back a few. There isn't a Session ipa out there that is as close to enjoyable as a Snpa.
    dennis3951 likes this.
  22. Traquairlover

    Traquairlover Meyvn (1,026) Nov 10, 2007 Virginia

    Well...except for the abomination that is a black IPA.
    Shroud0fdoom likes this.
  23. marquis

    marquis Champion (803) Nov 20, 2005 England

    Yes, but I believe that Pale Ale is derived from the fact that it was brewed from pale malt.
  24. Robbfrancis

    Robbfrancis Initiate (0) Mar 17, 2015 New Jersey

    Session ipa's were only made for two reasons. One is for woman( non craft drinker) to enjoy craft beer with their husbands. The other is to cross over the bmc drinkers into the craft market to try to graduate their rat shit corn dextrose trash paltes and getting them away from coors and miller lite. Ipa's are the hottest trend in craft beer but those buttholes have no clue what a good ipa is so this way if they get used to session's they get used to tasting hops. Don't fool yourself in thinking that session's are good beers they are not.
  25. DoctorZombies

    DoctorZombies Poo-Bah (3,840) Feb 1, 2015 Florida
    Society Trader

    Drinking Slow Ride as I type...sometimes I want a lighter no means my first choice which tends to favor "big", but still fine for what it is: beer with lunch!
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  26. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    No, in every way possible. No.
    I'm like fully going to trust your opinion cos of your patently sexist remark and your ribald command of talking shit with zero basis in fact.
    They probably started as a joke that brewers decided they really liked. Sales of Session IPA's pretty much across the board would indicate that this joke was something a lot of other people were fully ready to get.
    The joke? The dare? "What if we brewed a shift beer that won't destroy us if we sit and linger for a couple hours after work talking bull. Big throaty face blasting ales are great, and hops for daze. But god damn. After working a double in the kitchen or putting in 12 hours in the brewery crawling around on top of fermentation vessels in the middle of summer. I don't drink for the hangover, or being dehydrated like a mofo and those beers always do it."
    What if that preference for keeping a six of MGD just for shift drinks hooked up with 6# of hops per barrel?
    Sales would indicate a lot of people want that. So, your opinion needs some fact checking.
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  27. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,826) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    64C is not that high, is it?
    Founders All Day is their largest volume label. They still make the Pale Ale.
  28. metsfansour

    metsfansour Initiate (0) Feb 23, 2015 Connecticut

    My favorite is Two Roads Lil Heaven though it may not be easy to get outside of Connecticut New York or Massachusetts area
    tasterschoice62 likes this.
  29. beermeplz

    beermeplz Aspirant (278) Feb 13, 2015 California

    I've tried most of the big name session IPAs out there (e.g. DayTime, Pinner, Slow Ride, Down to Earth, Even Keel, etc.), and IMO Karl Strauss Mosaic Session is the best thing out there out the is one extremely juicy IPA. Though at 5.5% ABV, it's classification as a session IPA is questionable. Still really delicious stuff, whatever the case.
  30. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,682) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Don't women love wine too? Which is often 12%+ in abv?
  31. 31Sam13

    31Sam13 Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2014 New Hampshire

    Sometimes this term really just bugs the hell out of me...I would say that's an inherent flaw...
  32. Tsar_Riga

    Tsar_Riga Poo-Bah (2,563) Sep 9, 2013 Indiana


    I tried this for the first time last night, and it was flavorful and a solid IPA with a session-level ABV.

    I also dig Go To IPA, which is neither weak nor mild, and All Day, which is tasty.
    fearfactory likes this.
  33. soughtbygod

    soughtbygod Initiate (0) Apr 27, 2011 California

    the only session IPA that has really blown my mind is BOAT from Carton, its amazing
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  34. 31Sam13

    31Sam13 Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2014 New Hampshire

    Wow, that's a really great way of saying I can't imagine drinking more than one because it tastes like shit...
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  35. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,744) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

  36. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Boat is the only one of these so called "session" beers that I enjoy.
  37. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    In my experience what BMC drinkers dislike most about craft beer is the hops.
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  38. aschwab

    aschwab Initiate (0) Mar 3, 2009 Texas

    MetaModern by Oasis has to be one of the best session IPAs that I have had.

    Considering it has a 92 on BA, I would say that most people agree with that (I believe it is the highest actual session IPA that I have seen - with less than 5% ABV)
    KSOZE likes this.
  39. aschwab

    aschwab Initiate (0) Mar 3, 2009 Texas

    And I do not like the use of session on beers that are not exactly session. Maybe it is just my thing, but if I see a beer in the US with that label, I immediately think of something less than 5%. A local brewery in Austin recently came out with a Session IPA that is at 5.5%. To me, that would not be a session beer....

    Maybe I am looking too into it.
    KSOZE likes this.
  40. surfcaster

    surfcaster Zealot (564) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina

    Your are quite incorrect.

    The vast majority of "session fans" are devoted hop heads looking for a low alcohol option but a good hop bite. Some beer geeks love 'em, some don't--no doubt there is division. Ask someone who runs a bottle shop who walks out with them. If anything, they actually accentuate hops to cover yet expose the lower malt backbone for lower sugar/alcohol content.

    Your stereotype of women is also off putting. For those that don't like "hoppy beers" these are clearly not an alternative. Also really not a crossover at all. Again--ask your craft beer store what they recommend--softer pales, browns, heffes or a well made lager is much likely to bridge the gap.
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