5 Best Session IPAs of 2021
We've tried triple IPAs. We've drunk double dry-hopped IPAs. We've enjoyed the gamut of experimental IPAs with Kveik yeast, Southern hemisphere varietals, and cryo hops. But sometimes at the end of the day all we want is a lighter-bodied, lighter-ABV session IPA. Known also as a India Session Ale, this style is characterized by maintaining the full flavor of an IPA, but with a lower ABV. The downtick in alcohol means that you can drink a few of these over an extended period of time or session.
The history of the session IPA can actually be tentatively traced back to WWI-era England, where workers were given two drinking periods (or sessions) during their workday. Drinking on the job called for a lighter, lower-alcohol beer than, say, an Imperial stout. While English workers may have started the style in the early 1900s, it's American craft beer consumers that brought this IPA variation back into the spotlight.
Popularized in the States, the session IPA usually features lots of bright, citrusy American hops added later in the brewing process to enhance the aroma and flavor without contributing too much to the alcohol content. Think of session IPAs as the middle child between American Pale Ales and standard IPAs. Today, most brewers categorize a true session IPA as falling below 5% ABV.
Following the trend, pretty much every major brewery in the U.S. has produced its own version of this style from Bell's to Firestone Walker and many more in between. We love the session IPA because it's the perfect summer beer, especially for the Fourth of July weekend. You can take a 12- or 6-pack to the beach, the pool, the backyard, the mountains, the park, the insert any outdoor location here, and know that you can crush the case with friends and family without crushing your soul or palette. Session IPAs are just a win-win for everyone!
To celebrate Independence Day, here are Untappd's 5 Highest-Rated Session IPAs / India Session Ales of 2021 that we'll be picking up for the holiday weekend:
2. Manamana - Bissell Brothers Brewing Company
3. Sabro One Love - Jungle Brewery
4. Double Dry Hopped Small Green Everything - Other Half Brewing Co.
5. Double Dry-Hopped 18-Watt Session IPA - SingleCut Beersmiths
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If you're looking for another heat crusher for the Fourth of July weekend, hear why Drinking Socially hosts Harrison Hickok and Jon Dispenza think Narragansett Lager is the perfect beer to crush on the greatest beach day of the year. On this week's episode of Drinking Socially Harrison and Jon don their Tommy Bahama button-ups, step into their flip-flops, gob on sunscreen, and honor the 'Gansett. Catch this week's show or tune in wherever you grab your favorite podcasts.