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Six new session IPAs we’re digging

Huge hop flavor, low-ABV package; these brand-new IPAs are the best of both worlds.

Jess Suworoff for DRAFT

Jess Suworoff for DRAFT

Session IPAs aren’t new as a style, but they’re certainly not going anywhere (except outside, to your deck, in a Koozie.) The popularity of these drinkable but still flavorful IPAs birthed sessionable versions of several other styles, including pale ales and saisons. The persistence of the session IPA, though, reminds brewers that Americans love hops, and we love being able to drink lots of them. These are the recent releases we’re feeling right now:

Breakside Lunch Break India Session Ale
This full-flavored 4.7%-er doesn’t skimp on resinous pine aromas reminiscent of Christmas tree bark; there’s a hint of green onion underneath. On the sip, smooth, subtle bitterness underscores more dank pine flavor and a touch of orange juice. After light hop astringency dries out the tongue, residual sweetness lingers.

New Belgium Slow Ride
Sublimely fresh grass and pine needles float to the nose, cueing up resinous pine and grass flavors on a creamy sip. Biscuity malts play an early supporting roll before bitterness ties it up in a neat, 95-point bow. This is a simply stellar example of the style.

Samuel Adams Rebel Rider
This 4.5%-ABV, toned-down counterpart to Sam Adams’ Rebel IPA should satisfy fans of citrusy hops, as well as those who prefer their hop character on the piney side. Grapefruit and light must on the nose give way to grapefruit juiciness and a solid, definitively bitter finish. The citrus character is a bit one-note, but there’s enough herbal character before the swallow to recall the dank aroma.

Victory 19th Anniversary
It’s not just the 4.5% ABV that makes this a lawnmower beer; it literally evokes flavors of a sun-drenched, freshly mowed lawn. Aromas of perky grass, pine and lemon balm portend a fresh, simple and grassy sip. The mouthfeel is pleasantly creamy but moderate bitterness wraps up the swallow well.

Heavy Seas Cross Bones
The pine and orange hop aroma might be expected, but honey sweetness and minty, herbal hop flavor throw the tongue a curveball. Firm sweetness kicks the bitterness into balance on this 85-point, 4.5%-ABV brew. If we had our way, we’d dial the hops up even louder on this one.

Oskar Blues Pinner
The can says “Can I be blunt?”, so it’s natural that pungent, dank hops should follow. A verdant aroma preps the palate for a front-to-back hop onslaught: Resiny pine, fresh-cut grass, sweet onion and light woody flavor flow harmoniously over the tongue as one cohesive, delicious sip.


Kate Bernot is DRAFT’s beer editor. Reach her at kate.bernot[at]

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