Our ongoing series on the essential craft beers that everyone ought to know.
There’s been a trend afoot in the last few years of craft breweries producing session IPAs. Although the style is an old one (original English IPAs brewed in the 19th century were basically today’s session IPAs), the style has definitely made a comeback. I was initially confused the first time I drank a session IPA, missing the “session” part, and thought, “hmm, oddly thin and light for an IPA…”
What are session IPAs, you might ask? They’re basically lite IPAs that one can drink during daylight hours and not get weighed down or inebriated. If you’ve got a hankering for an IPA at lunch, but minus the usual ABV and “heaviness,” you can grab a “sessionable” one instead. By definition, session IPAs are only 3-5% ABV. According to historical legend, session ales were low-alcohol alternatives originally produced by English brewers for factory workers who were given two beer-drinking “sessions” per 8-hour work day—an employee perk unjustifiably lost to us in the modern, uncivilized world.
I hadn’t been a big fan of session ales until I had the good fortune of tasting FOUNDERS All Day IPA—I found it refreshing and, as intended by the style, immensely quaffable. Founders is an award-winning Michigan brewery that has been around for a long time—since 1997. They’re old enough to drink legally! The All Day has become one of their most popular beers, but they initially made their mark with big, bold and flavorful brews. If you’ve had the Backwoods Bastard (see our review here) or any of the delicious—and intense—Breakfast Stout variants, All Day is proof that Founders has serious brewing chops on both sides of the ABV continuum.
The beer pours a pleasant light orange color, suggesting a citrusy NEIPA flavor profile. You will, indeed, smell light lemon/orange notes as well as the tell-tale floral and pine found in most IPAs. Because this is a session ale, the malts are dialed back, giving the beer a lighter body, allowing the hop flavors and aromas to really shine. Although technically an IPA, All Day “only” has 42 IBUs, making it closer to a standard pale ale. That being said, it still has a hoppy zing and leaves a pleasant bitterness on the tongue without the usual malt sweetness present in regular IPAs.
Overall, All Day IPA is a clean and refreshing beer and is perfect for approaching warmer days. And hey, the next time you’re out for lunch during a work day, order up an All Day and hoist one in thanks to the English factory laborers of yore for bringing about a great tradition. —J.A.