All the IBUs. Half the ABV. Welcome to the India session ale (ISA). Emerging styles always generate some controversy as to their proper nomenclature. (Maybe it’s an Amero-Anglo-style bitter?) Whatever these nimbler hop bombs are, the result is a flavorful beer that won’t knock you on your keister the way a pint too many of the big IPAs or bigger Double IPAs might.
Stone Brewing brewmaster Mitch Steele, who literally wrote the book on the IPA style, IPA:Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale, loves this new direction.
“[Session IPAs are] kettle hopped (for bitterness up front) and dry hopped (for flavor and aroma after the boil) using similar quantities and varieties as a standard American IPA,” said Steele. “The brewers challenge here is twofold: first is achieving a good flavor balance in a beer that is so low in alcohol that there isn’t much else to balance the hop character with, and second, ensuring that the dry hop character doesn’t become overly vegetal, due to the lower alcohol content of the beer.”
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