Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lew Bryson is Smiling Right Now

Has anybody else noticed this—the ever increasing number of session IPA that have come out in the last few months?

Just this week I've come across three—Saranac's Session IPA, Founder's All-Day IPA and Middle Ages' 17th Anniversary Session IPA. I've seen a few Belgian-inspired session ales as well.Sam Adams released their Belgian Session last year and Victory has out their Swing Session Saison (which is fantastic by the way.) But, it looks like IPA has become the go-to in the world of American session brews. Ratebeer lists 57 of them, and Beeradvocate claims 30. That's a far cry from the thousands of "regular" IPAs that both sites list, but I'd garner a bet that we'll see those first numbers rise, on both sites, over the next few months.

I will admit, it does seem like there was a meeting of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes, and everybody got together and said, "Let's all make a session IPA. Are you in?", but I think IPA is a logical choice to session-ize. It's a gateway beer, and IPAs sell well.

It's actually pretty tough to make a good, low strength brew. There's not a whole lot to work with in a beer under 5% ABV. Session brews—at least American styles of session brews, like IPA and Pales—have a tendency to sacrifice body for lower strength. I think people might be able to overlook that if the brew can pull off that classic American IPA, hoppy zip and bitterness.

There has been some dissension amongst the ranks. I have heard a few folks state that IPAs can never be session-able because IPAs have to be 5%, or above—therefore making them ineligible for session status and unable to play under NCAA regulations. Of course, IPAs can be stronger, no objections there—because as we all know, IPA was brewed strong and heavily hopped to survive the trip to India*—but not weaker. That would be a crime against man and nature. It's like that old saying from the 19th-century: Pizza can't be pizza unless it's round. Right?

But, I digress.

While I'm happy to see more and more of these session IPA, (because who doesn't want a a bunch of IPAs to drink-on all the livelong day?) especially now that the weather has begun to break; but I've always thought a session strength brewery would be a great idea—a place that makes nothing but under 5% ABV beer. Think about it. The line-up could include a 3.5% Brown Ale or Dark Mild, a low 4s Märzen, an "Imperial"Stout topping the chart near 5, a peppery Saison coming in at around 4 and a half, and of course the now-more-recently-popular, low-balled IPA. What's not to love about that? 

You could call it Small Time Ale and Lager Company. 

There you go. I just did all the work for you. Go make your millions—just send me beer. 

And a check for 15% of your earnings in the first five years.

*This whole sentence, nay, the whole paragraph, is horse shit.


  1. We have almost that already in Ontario at the Grand River Brewing Co.: http://grandriverbrewing.com/our-beers/year-round-beers/

    Great sub-5% brews that are now even regularly available here in Kingston.

  2. See, everybody, the Canadians have figured it out....