Picked up a six of Founders All Day IPA last week. This is billed as a “session” IPA, coming in at only 4.7% ABV, which is low alcohol for a modern American pale ale, never mind an IPA. Typical American IPAs these days are at least 6.5%. Many are 7%. So under 5% is a big difference.
First reaction by many would be “session IPA? Isn’t that just a pale ale?” And while I understand that reaction, there is a bit of a difference, in my opinion. While many APAs are fairly hoppy, they also tend to be a bit more balanced, with a decent amount of mouthfeel and malt complexity. IPAs (especially West Coast styles) tend to be imbalanced, hop heavy, be it aroma, flavor, bitterness, or any combination thereof.
All Day IPA seems a bit more of a small IPA in that the hops still dominate, mostly in aroma and flavor, with a bitterness of only 42 IBUs. Still fairly bitter, especially at only 4.7% ABV. It poured a rich gold color, with minimal head that dissipated fairly quickly. Lots of grass, citrus and a bit of piney aroma. The mouthfeel was a bit light/thin. Hop flavor matched the aroma. Finished crisp and clean, making it quite easy to drink, leaving you ready to pour another one.
While interesting, I would like to do a side by side with 21st Amendment’s Bitter American, a 4.4% session ale which I’ve had in the past. Bitter American comes in at 4.4%, same 42 IBUs, using Warrior and Cascade hops. I recall really enjoying that beer, which gave up a lot of hop presence, nice bitterness, and finished quite refreshing. (Founders tends not to give too much ingredients info, so I can’t tell you exactly what hops they use)
Bitter American is listed as an “Extra Pale Ale”. This is one of those odd descriptors to me. Is it extra pale… meaning lesser of a pale? Or is it EXTRA, as in a pale ale with a little extra? I believe the craft beer world is leaning towards the latter description. It’s a pale ale with a little extra in the hop character. Maybe not so much in the alcohol, but in the hops and bitterness. I could be wrong, and I’m sure there are variations. So, is an “Extra Pale Ale” the same as a “session IPA”? Be damned if I know. But I would definitely put those two beers in the same category.