Just check out this Periodic Table of Beers. I know, you can't really see it clearly, but you get the picture.
And brewers are constantly coming up with new twists on traditional styles - adding spices fruits and flavors resulting in interesting concoctions that sometimes work and sometimes don't depending on your taste. Choice is a wonderful thing.
Lately a new style has been emerging: Session IPAs. It seems nearly every craft brewer is throwing their (relatively) low alcohol IPA into the ring. he idea is great. Traditionally an IPA (India Pale Ale), by its very nature, is a higher alcohol brew. By now everyone is familiar with the Origin Story of the IPA style (like any superhero, IPAs have an Origin Story) in which a beer was developed to survive the long boat trip to India from The British Isles. The solution was to up the hops and up the alcohol. American IPAs generally clock in at somewhere between 6% and 8% ABVs. No problem if you're going to kick back and have a couple beers. But there are those times (think fall = football) when you might want more than a couple, but you really don't want to wake up with a pounding head the next morning. One solution is to stick with the Mega-brews since they fall into the 4%-5% range (no, just kidding, I would never suggest that). Some Pale Ales and Stouts and Porters come in at lower alcohol levels certainly. But what if you wanted that nice hop kick of an IPA without too big a kick in the head by the alcohol? Enter Session IPAs. Session IPAs are exactly that: hoppy beers that have ABVs of around 4% - 5%. Of course, some of the flavor and body found in a normal IPA is derived from the alcohol, so it is not an easy task to create a lower alcohol IPA with taste. This month we decided to check out a few.
What the Brewer Says: "This light golden ale provides the perfect jumping off point for drinkers new to craft beer. The malty body is balanced with just a touch of hops. A touch of local Hudson Valley honey is added into the kettle adding some depth to the clean ale aroma."
Pour: Moderate white head
Color: Unfiltered pale yellow
Aroma: Grassy malt
Taste: Balanced, light taste wit a bit of sweet honey flavor and a hint of hops
Overall Impression: We would "Leave it on the shelf" - That's our opinion, not because it is a bad beer for its style - it isn't - but because we are not really fans of the style. It would make a good jumping off point for someone dipping their toes in the Craft Beer Pool. For us, just not enough hops.
Comments: "This tastes like a golf cart beer; It really does taste better than it looks; there is a hint of bitterness on the back end; A nice summer beer; It has a few hops in it; It's a bit too bland for me; I would take this over a Bud; Maybe a boat beer; It's better than a lite beer."
What the Brewer Says: "Our flagship. An easy drinking, accessible Vienna Lager with a balance between the rich malt character and refreshing hop presence. Copper in color this beer is made from American Bittering and Noble Aroma Hops. Not too sweet and not too bitter, a beer you can enjoy anytime."
Pour: "Decent" ecru head
Color: Buckwheat honey
Aroma: Toward the malty, but not a strong aroma - kind of a bready nose.
Taste: Slightly to the bitter side of balanced
Overall Impression: "I Could Drink This"
Comments: "Not a bad beer; In fact, it's a pretty good lager; Nice lawn mower beer; Beats the hell ou of Bud, Miller, Coors and Yuengling; The aftertaste is good; If I had to drink a lager, this would be it."
The Beer Facts: STYLE: IPA; ABV: 6.0%; IBUs: 60
What the Brewer Says: "A West Coast style IPA. The rich golden malt provides the perfect canvas for the variety of hops to shine. The columbus, Centennial, Glacier, Citra and Simcoe hops create a rich aroma chock full of citrus and stone fruit."
Pour: Between "Decent" and "Guinness Class" head that is solid and doesn't go away.
Color: Unfiltered orange
Aroma: Hoppy grapefruit, pine
Taste: Hoppy bitterness with notes of grapefruit and pine
Overall Impression: "Can't Get Enough!"
Comments: "That's what I want an IPA to taste like; It's definitely a West Coast style IPA; It screams for another swallow; There isn't much malt backbone; A great beer-way to go Yonkers!"
The BOTB Guys