Words By Mitchell West, Photos By Morgan H. West
Over the last few years, session IPAs have become quite popular in the craft beer world. While some have dismissed the style as being too “watered down,” I always say that there’s a place for every beer. Session IPAs are great for hop heads who don’t want to sip a snifter of double IPA at a party. These are beers that have big hop flavors but an alcohol content similar to that of a Budweiser. They are not replacements for IPA, as you really do miss the full body and malt sweetness of a 6 – 8 % ABV beer, but they are perfect for your next marathon drinking event. Isn’t there an important professional sports contest that everyone will watch coming up soon? Bring one of these to that! As always, all these beers are readily available in DC, I bought mine at De Vinos in Adams Morgan.
As soon as I poured this beer I got a huge whiff of tropical fruit from the hops. The Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops are very present in the nose, and give off flavors of mango, pineapple, and citrus. Slow Ride pours a beautifully clear golden color. The body of this beer is extremely light, with not too much going on besides the hops. That and the combo of slightly sweet malt flavors create a delightful session beer. The newest addition to New Belgium’s lineup does not disappoint, and is a great example of a session IPA.
The nose of this beer is a little less hop-forward than the New Belgium Slow Ride. The hops are primarily grassy with a little bit of citrus in the back. The color was significantly darker, too. The addition of rye gives this beer a little more malt character than a session IPA normally has, but it’s very well balanced, especially for the style. The spicy flavors from the rye add a great counterpart to the hops. Like other Port City beers, this one finishes clean, and leaves you wanting more.
Sam Adam’s session version of their West Coast style Rebel IPA poured the lightest of the three we tasted today. It also had the least amount of hop aroma and malt character. In fact, there really wasn’t much going on at all. I’m normally a fan of Sam Adams, if not for the Boston Lager than at least for many of their seasonal offerings, but this particular brew tasted like beer-flavored water. It wasn’t bad, but there was just very little flavor, and it left a metallic aftertaste in my mouth. Ok, maybe it was bad. It’s not easy to make a flavorful 4.5% ABV beer, so extra congratulations to New Belgium and Port City for making great ones.