Tap This: Full flavor and moderate ABV make session IPAs a lasting movement
The American IPA has long been the fan favorite within the craft beer industry. However, some beer lovers have found the higher ABV a bit too much, especially when indulging while out with non-craft-beer-drinking friends.
While many macro beers feature ABVs ranging from 4 to 5 percent while IPAs can range from 6 percent all the way up to 18 percent ABV and beyond. These higher ABVs can lead to a shorter night for craft beer drinkers when compared to their friends. However, craft brewers have come to the rescue with a wide array of fantastic and highly sessionable IPAs with an ABV range from 3 to 5 percent.
This variant on the popular IPA has taken off quickly and many breweries now offer their own take on the session IPA. But with so many choices, what are the best ones to try?
Here is a short list of some of the best session IPAs currently available. All are must try beers for craft beer lovers and newbies alike:
Stone Brewing Co — Go To IPA: Stone has built a huge fan base on their IPAs with a strong emphasis on aggressive flavor and balance. This West Coast-style IPA has strong presence of pine and overall dankness that true hopheads seek out. Stone IPA is still a fan favorite and their Go To is perfect for those looking for a hop punch with a low 4.5 percent ABV. Easy drinking does not even begin to describe this world class beer!
Firestone Walker Brewing Company — Easy Jack: Firestone Walker has a loyal following of hop lovers from their Union Jack and Double Jack IPAs so their scaled down Easy Jack is not surprisingly equally as delicious. Wonderful hop notes of fresh oranges dominate and sit nicely in a bed of semi-sweet malts. The 4.5 percent ABV makes for a beer that can be enjoyed by the quart, and after one sip, you will most definitely want at least a quart of it!
Golden Road Brewing — Wolf Pup Session IPA: California-based Golden Road built their reputation on flavor-forward IPAs. Their Wolf Pup Session IPA may weigh in at 4.5 percent ABV, but it is still certainly a flavor-forward IPA. The juicy qualities of this beer are apparent from the first sip. Strong citrus and tropical fruit notes encompass the palate with a strong juicy quality that is desired in great IPAs. This is most definitely a beer that should be purchased by the case!
Ballast Point — Even Keel: Ballast Point is a brewery that truly knows how to brew a world class IPA with their Sculpin still remaining near the top of any IPA lover’s list. The brewery has created something incredible with Even Keel though. The crisp hop profile with notes of citrus and hints of herbal hops within a smooth malt backbone are the perfect combination for any hot summer day. The flavor is certainly light, but still remains impactful. The truly amazing feat though? Creating a beer with flavor depth and IPA qualities with an ABV of only 3.8 percent!
Oskar Blues Brewery — Pinner: This throwback IPA has wonderful notes of tropical fruits, citrus juices, pineapple, and spiced berry up front in the aroma and flavor. The biscuit and toasted bread at the back end balance the hops and make a great finish. The 4.9 percent ABV and availability in stove pipe (19.2-ounce) cans make for a beer that is extremely sessionable and brewed to be enjoyed and consumed in mass quantities.
Evil Twin Brewing — Citra Sunshine Slacker: Evil Twin has a reputation for brewing interesting beers throughout the world and has collaborated with a lot of great breweries. Their Citra Sunshine Slacker is a collaboration with Florida-based 7venth Sun. The result is a light and very crisp 4.5 percent session IPA with impactful citrus fruit tastes and aroma. A perfect beer for lounging poolside and slacking off, the dude abides!
Session beers may be all the rage right now, but the moderate ABV and full flavor will make them something that sticks around for the long haul. If you want a beer that packs a punch but won’t knock you down, these are all absolute must try craft beers!
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.