Many different styles of beer have come and gone in the past few years, but the Session IPA is the one I hope sticks around for a while. As a day drinker myself, I tend to stay away from heavy IPAs before sundown. They’re just too filling and let’s be real, when it comes to day drinking: it’s a marathon, not a race. That’s why I like SIPAs so much, they’re almost always under 5% ABV but they’re still erupting with a fierce hop attitude.
Below is a list of 7 Session IPAs you should get familiar with. Immediately.
7. New Belgium Slow Ride
Okay, this may be the least exciting Session IPA of the bunch, but this beer is still worth trying. According to the New Belgium website, Slow Ride is “a blend of eight hop varieties, led by exotic Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin, twisted together by brilliant tropical scents of melon, peach, lime and grapefruit for a vividly fruity aroma.” I didn’t get any of that when I tried it, but maybe you will. (4.5% ABV)
6. Ballast Point Even Keel
Another strong offering from San Diego’s Ballast Point, Even Keel is the answer for when you don’t really feel like going up on a Tuesday, but you still wanna catch a buzz. I really like this beer. Well, I used to. Honestly, I haven’t drank this beer since I had one at Coachella and immediately threw up afterwards. Unbeknownst to me, I had contracted the stomach flu. It wasn’t Even Keels fault, but still. You just don’t get over stuff like that. (3.8% ABV)
5. Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA
I really didn’t know what to expect when I purchased my first 6-pack from Colorado’s Oskar Blues brewery. I knew that they were the pioneers responsible for being the first craft brewery to exclusively can their beers, but not much else. Also, if we’re being real with each other, I really can’t stand their design aesthetic on all of their products. To me, their “look” is the equivalent of what Comic Sans is to the typeface community. Usually when a brand’s design choices are kinda wonky, you can bet there’s some bad decision-making afoot. In this particular case, I was wrong. Pinner Throwback IPA is actually a very good beer. It’s light and fruity, but still feels like a much higher ABV beer – which is exactly what you want out of a Session IPA. (4.9%)
4. Firestone Walker Easy Jack
Now this is a beer with a story. When Firestone Walker decided to make a Session IPA, it would been pretty easy to just lower the ABV on their already incredibly successful Union Jack IPA and call it a day. But they didn’t do that. They flew to the far corners of Germany and essentially “created” two brand new varieties of hops. Just for this beer. The hops, Mandarina Bavaria and Hull Melon, are just the backbone of this globetrotting golden ale. It also contains hops from New Zealand AND North America. The only thing “easy” about this beer is how “easy” it is to polish off a 6-pack by yourself. (4.5% ABV)
3. 21st Amendment Down To Earth
When 21st Amendment decided to retire Bitter American and replace it with Down To Earth Session IPA, I was stoked. I was always kind of weary of purchasing Bitter American. The name just wasn’t doing 21A any favors. Even if it’s a play on words, no one wants to drink a “bitter” beer (unless you’re a Limey). When Down to Earth finally burst onto the scene with its newly revamped hops and “Session IPA” slapped on the label, it changed everything. Since it’s release in April, 21st Amendment is now selling 3x more Down To Earth than all of what Bitter American sold in 2014. I’m not surprised. – this beer is phenomenal. Believe the hype. This beer is absolutely bananas. (4.4% ABV)
2. Lagunitas Daytime Ale
I took a break from drinking Lagunitas after I thought it was a good idea to close out a Friday night at Hi-Life with a 32 bomber of Lagunitas Sucks. Needless to say, I didn’t finish it. Say what you will about Lagunitas, but the majority of their beers are not meant for the faint of heart. They’re heavy, loud, and homicidally hoppy. Luckily, Daytime Ale is the complete opposite. It’s probably in my top 10 of most refreshing beers of all time. It’s super light in color and flavor, but it packs a mean hop punch. So much so they don’t even call it a “session IPA”, they call it a “fractional IPA”. I don’t know what that means, but I am in. (4.65% ABV)
1. Stone Go-To IPA
I’ve never been a huge fan of San Diego’s Stone Brewing. Their logo, a giant lingering Gargoyle, seemed to be trying to appeal to 13-year olds who frequent Hot Topic and regularly consume Monster Energy drinks. Again, just because it isn’t my style, that doesn’t mean it’s not good. And boy am I glad I gave this one a shot. With the other Sessions IPAs, you kinda know you’re not drinking a real IPA. With Go-To, I would be easily fooled if you told me it was a regular IPA, or dare I say, double IPA. It’s that good. Go-To IPA is crafted by utilizing Stone’s proprietary “hop burtsting” method, “a new technique wherein an irrational amount of hops is added during the final phase of the brewing process to coax out extreme flavors and aromas while also imparting a burst of desirably pleasant bitterness.” I don’t know what kind of black magic Stone is wielding over in SD, but I would like more of it. PRO TIP: Use a Spiegelau IPA glass when enjoying Go-To. It makes a huge difference.