02 December 2013

Found art

Three pale ales from Michigan brewery Founders today. I'll get to the more usual styles, but first up is something called All Day IPA: 4.7% ABV and proclaiming itself a "session ale". I'm immediately wondering what the point of this is, as distinct from the regular non-India pale ale. It's a darkish gold colour and smells heavenly: ripe mango, pine resin and a little bit of toffee. The flavour is quite straightforward, showing a light acrid dankness, fading to grapefruit and then tailing off, leaving a dry and slightly metallic green aftertaste. There's a certain wateryness behind the hop wallop which I guess helps to take the sharper edges off and which, coupled with the light carbonation, makes it sessionable. I could certainly drink this all day. But I still don't know what makes it an IPA rather than a non-I PA. We have to go deeper.

Founders Pale Ale is paler, for one thing, and also a fair whack stronger at 5.4% ABV. The aroma is quite minerally and little carbonic, with no sign of the dry hopping. Nicely smooth again, but the flavours are extremely muted, showing just a little bit of waxy bitterness and candy caramel. It doesn't stack up at all well next to the All Day IPA and I really can't see why they make it, when they can turn out an infinitely better pale ale at a lower strength.

Could it be that the Centennial IPA is just as pointless at a higher strength point? It's a familiar orangey gold and the aroma speaks more of toffee than hops. While it's certainly sweet and sugary, there's a decent hit of pith and peach amongst the toffee, and even some friendlier pineapple high notes. Best of all there's no harshness, no strong bitterness: just enough to balance the big malt. It's damn drinkable for 7.2% ABV, but in terms of flavour intensity it's not a patch on the All Day IPA: more a slow smoulderer than a quick exciting fling.

Founders, it seems, appear to reckon that as long as it's hoppy enough it's fair game to call it an IPA. This backseat brewery manager would be badging the All Day as a pale ale, and probably abandoning the Centennial hops for something more complex in the IPA. And it would definitely be a case of All Day in my back seat going home from work each evening.

10 comments:

  1. all day is certainly sessionable but its not an IPA...but then IPA is a marketing term these days anyway!

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    1. Was it ever not a marketing term?

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  2. The Bloody Tan11:39 am

    Totally off topic but just wanted to say a quick thanks for a couple of your earlier posts which formed the basis of an excellent weekend's drinking just gone in Amsterdam.
    1. Brouwerij't - first in through the door at 2pm followed by hordes of other tourists. The Natte & Columbus were superb.
    2. De Bekeerde Suster - very busy.I tried all the house beers and De Manke Monnike stood out for me.
    3. Restaurant de Bierfabriek - your review was spot on.A triumph of style over substance if an unfinished car park basement is your style.Music too loud. I quite liked the Porter though.
    4. 't Arendbest - still the best.Made several return visits.Haven't a clue what I was drinking.
    5. Cafe Gollem - tried a view American imports but eventually stuck with La Chouffe.
    6. Cafe Belgique - got here at 2am and bloody hell was it scary by then.Everone off their tits including the bar staff. Returned next day for a more considered verdict and tried most of the pumps.,Great bar if you hit it at the right time.
    7. Prael - Our final destination before the late flight back to Cork. I liked both the Willy and Johnny but not sure the venue really works as it is. I was intrigued by the long table downstairs with the individually named mugs hung up on hooks but was too pissed by then to be able to ask.
    Anyway, thanks once again.

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    1. Sounds like you did things properly. You'll still have to go back for Beer Temple and Wildeman.

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  3. "But I still don't know what makes it an IPA rather than a non-I PA." I wait with bated breath for the BJCP to tell us what to think ;)

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    1. I suppose if one spends years complaining about IPA being described as originally an extra-strong beer, one can't really object when somebody brews a weaker-than-normal one. IPAs that are weaker than Pale Ales should probably be encouraged, what with the way they're the same style and all...

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  4. "Session IPA" is code for "We know it's not strong by American standards, but it's still plenty hoppy, believe us!"
    That's a direct quote from the Category 14B Guidelines, btw.

    All Day is about as good as they come. Now imagine it here in cans.

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    1. I'd settle for somebody local making something as good.

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  5. So glad you got some Founder's! We just started getting their beers in Austin Texas. They make some delicious stuff, but the All Day IPA remains my favorite. Quite nice to have something distinctly hoppy that isn't fairly high ABV. I'm also a big fan of the grapefruit hop aroma.

    If you can get hold of it, their Red Rye IPA is also excellent.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I still have to try a few of the darker ones which have just arrived too.

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