Session IPA in an IPA Glass

Overview for the Session IPA Beer Style

The Session IPA is sub-style of the American IPA and received an official designation in 2010 in response to the growing trend of hoppier, low alcohol beers being brewed. This IPA retains the high bitterness of the standard IPA but has lower alcohol levels to make the brew “sessionable”. Even so, its strength can approach moderate levels. The Session IPA is less balanced than the American Pale Ale with higher attenuation and greater astringency.

Style Expectations

The Session IPA is recognizable as an IPA by its lack of balance. The beer is hop-forward, bitter and somewhat dry. Its session-strength alcohol level differentiates it from other IPA styles. The Session IPA should have good drinkability, regardless of the form. Excessive harshness and heaviness are typically faults, as are strong flavor clashes between the hops and the other specialty ingredients.

Appearance

Color depends on specific type of Specialty IPA. Most should be clear, although certain styles with high amounts of starchy adjuncts, or unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy. Darker types can be opaque making clarity irrelevant. Good, persistent head stand with color dependent on the specific type of Specialty IPA.

Aroma

Detectable hop aroma is required; characterization of hops is dependent on the specific type of Specialty IPA. Other aromatics may be present; hop aroma is typically the strongest element.

Flavor

Hop flavor is typically medium-low to high, with qualities dependent on typical varieties used in the specific Specialty IPA. Hop bitterness is typically medium-high to very high, with qualities dependent on typical varieties used in the specific Specialty IPA. Malt flavor generally low to medium, with qualities dependent on typical varieties used in the specific Specialty IPA. Commonly will have a medium-dry to dry finish. Some clean alcohol flavor can be noted in stronger versions. Various types of Specialty IPAs can show additional malt and yeast characteristics, depending on the type.

Mouthfeel

Smooth, medium-light to medium-bodied mouthfeel. Medium carbonation. Some smooth alcohol warming can be sensed in stronger versions.

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