It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m feeling pretty productive… I’ve watched CBS Sunday Morning, gone to church and then cooked up a couple pounds of ground beef into burgers and taco meat. Now, I can relax and have a beer, and what better style for a Sunday afternoon than a session IPA. When I started this blog in April 2010, I never imagined that “session IPA” would be a style. I just reminds me how much craft beers have changed since then.
This beer was given to me by my sister who lives in St. Louis. She brought me several beers from 2nd Shift, including the El Gato Grande and Liquid Spiritual Delight I had recently. The label on this one says, “We like drinking, but big beers can be overwhelming. We made Little Big Hop to provide a punch of hop aroma and flavor without killing your taste buds. This hazy session IPA features Columbus, Simcoe, and Cascade hops. This beer is stupid good.”
Location: Poured into a pint glass at my home in Bloomington, IL.
Numbers: 4.9% ABV, ~160 Calories
Appearance & Aroma: It’s a very bright orange color and it’s pretty hazy. It had a fairly big, white, rocky head on it, which fell after several minutes to a ring around the edge of the glass, although it left a fair amount of lacing. It has a big citrusy-lemony aroma to it with a little bit of cascade hop lemon-grassiness.
Taste & Feel: The body is light and the mouthfeel is crisp from the hoppiness with a little bit of oiliness from the hops as well. The flavor up front is almost like cascade hop juice with a citrusy lemony-floral-grassy flavor. In the middle, the sweetness comes up slightly from the malts, but it’s still dominated by hop bitterness and flavor. The finish is mostly bitter, still with a lot of cascade hop-like bitterness and flavor – with the bitterness dominating. The bitterness lasts for a minute or two in the aftertaste.
Food Pairing: This beer is very lemon-citrusy with some floral-grassiness, therefore, I’d probably pair it with a cheese dish, such as mac and cheese or a burger with lots of cheese on it. With the lemon grassiness, I think this might also go nicely with some sushi as well.
Overall Impression: I found it a little funny that this “session” IPA is only 0.1% less in ABV than a Budweiser, not that I’m complaining. The one thing I like about the northeast IPA/hazy IPA movement is a focus on pulling out hop flavor, rather than bitterness. However, I think the lower ABV pulled more bitterness out of the hops instead of juicy hop flavor. It was still a good beer with a lot more flavor than a Budweiser. If you’re a hophead and love hop bitterness and flavor, especially from Cascade hops, you’ll love having a few of these.