What Is a Session IPA? Everything You Need to Know About Session IPAs
In 2022, the beer market boasted a staggering value exceeding $100 billion. The lion’s share of this substantial market revenue was attributed to prominent American beer conglomerates and imported brews. However, a noteworthy 13.1% slice of this thriving market was carved out by craft beers, which notably included the ever-popular IPA.
- IPA, short for India Pale Ale, represents a bold and intensely aromatic genre of beer. Session IPAs boast a lower alcohol content compared to traditional India Pale Ales (IPAs).
- Session beers usually boast an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 5% or less. Frequently, though not invariably, session ales are also lower in calorie content.
Enter the Session IPA – the pint-sized dynamo within the realm of craft beer – a style that emerged seemingly overnight, making a meteoric rise in just a few hop harvests.
IPAs are celebrated far and wide for their distinctive and captivating flavor profiles. Beyond their palatable allure, these ales also have the bonus of being the life of the party, requiring only a few sips to ignite the festivities. But here’s a lesser-known fact: You can savor the enchanting world of IPAs without committing to a high alcohol-by-volume (ABV) experience.
Session IPAs, in stark contrast to their traditional India Pale Ale counterparts, boast a lower alcohol content while retaining the full spectrum of those delectable IPA flavors.
So, what precisely is a session IPA? This guide will delve deep into this intriguing question, offering a comprehensive exploration of all things IPA, sessionable brews, and the world of session IPAs. Keep reading for a complete enlightenment on the subject.
What Is Session IPA?
IPA, short for India Pale Ale, represents a bold and intensely aromatic genre of beer. It stands as one of the most fertile grounds for experimentation among craft brewers worldwide. Originating in the United Kingdom, IPAs have gained iconic status among American craft brewers, signifying excellence within the craft brewery community.
This beer variety resides at the intersection of a hoppy Venn diagram, nestled between the realms of IPA, Pale Ale, and Session Ale. It’s crafted by reducing the potency of a typical IPA, resulting in lower alcohol content and a moderated hoppy bitterness, while introducing richer malty undertones.
Hops, those essential ingredients, are derived from the flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant, a member of the Cannabaceae family, which interestingly includes cannabis and hemp. These climbing vines flourish in hop gardens, where farmers meticulously train them to ascend trellises and strings suspended above their fields, often reaching heights of up to 20 feet.
The term “session” in its name pays homage to the convivial pub tradition of enjoying a prolonged and sociable drinking “session,” marked by savoring multiple lower-alcohol beers over an extended period. Session beers, with their lower alcohol content and reputation for being less filling, are perfectly suited for these leisurely gatherings.
Session IPAs boast a lower alcohol content compared to traditional India Pale Ales (IPAs). Nevertheless, they retain all the delectable flavors characteristic of IPAs.
Types of IPAs
Breweries employ various hop varieties to craft the diverse array of IPA variations that have captured our collective affection. Among the multitude of IPA styles, such as English and American IPAs, three stand out as the most beloved:
- Hazy IPAs: Named for their lack of filtration, these beers retain their natural haze.
- Double or Imperial IPAs: These categories are defined by the brew’s alcohol by volume (ABV), which tends to be higher than standard IPAs.
- Session IPAs: Unlike their Imperial counterparts, the ABV of session IPAs is notably lower.
What Is Session Ales
The term “Session” in beer parlance originates from the ability to enjoy multiple of these brews during a single drinking “session.”
Session beers usually boast an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 5% or less. Frequently, though not invariably, session ales are also lower in calorie content, ensuring you won’t feel overly satiated after indulging in a few.
Breweries have the creative freedom to craft session beers from a wide spectrum of beer styles. Pilsners, blondes, and lagers are among the more common varieties, but hefeweizens and pale ales can also qualify as sessionable libations.
How Are Session IPAs Brewed?
To brew this IPA, start by mashing crushed grains in 3.5 gallons of water at a temperature range of 153-155°F, and let it sit for 60 minutes. Afterward, sparge the grain with 170°F water until you reach your desired pre-boil kettle volume.
Next, bring the mixture to a boil and introduce the 60-minute hops. Allow it to boil for 40 minutes before adding the 20-minute hops. Continue boiling for an additional 19 minutes, and then add the 1-minute hops. Let it boil for just 1 more minute.
Turn off the heat and efficiently cool the wort down to 66°F. Once it reaches the desired temperature, transfer it to your fermenter. To ensure a speedy and flavor-optimized fermentation process, pitch a healthy starter of your preferred IPA yeast.
The difference Between Session IPA and IPA is
Two primary differentiators set session IPAs apart from regular IPAs:
1. Alcohol Content
As previously mentioned, session IPAs boast a lower alcohol by volume (ABV) compared to their traditional IPA counterparts. Typically, standard double IPAs fall within the alcohol content range of 6% to 8%, while some regular IPAs, particularly triple IPAs, can soar above 10% ABV. On the flip side, session IPAs tend to hover between 6.5% and 8% ABV. This reduced alcohol content might potentially lead to a brew that’s overly hoppy and less sweet. However, session beer artisans employ a special brewing approach to ensure that session IPAs and traditional IPAs deliver equivalent flavor profiles.
2. Brewing Method
You may wonder how session IPAs manage to maintain their delectable taste despite having varying alcohol levels. The secret lies in the brewing process itself. The alcohol content is not determined by hops; instead, they serve as flavor-enhancing elements added towards the end of brewing. It’s the reduced malt and grain content that results in the lower alcohol content in session IPAs. To prevent the hops from overpowering the malt nuances, session beer crafters employ a diverse range of malts to infuse depth and intricacy into the brew, ensuring that the flavors remain robust and balanced.
At Canard, we’ve crafted a clear, amber-toned IPA that falls into the “sessionable” category, offering a lower alcohol content suitable for extended sipping. Our Canard Session IPA stands out as a refreshingly hoppy and pleasantly bitter pale ale, characterized by a hop-forward profile, a dry finish, and a subtle hint of caramel and malty notes. The hop aromas take center stage in the new world style, showcasing vibrant hints of citrus, floral, stone fruit, and pine resin. Visit our website to find more about Session IPA. Here’s the link!