Session IPA

The Indian Pale Ale, IPA, is one of the types of beer that best adapts to changes. Each brewer adds his personal touch, based on his preferences, so it is possible to find many different classes such as the Session IPA, with a unique and refreshing flavor.

The session IPA is one of the classes of Indian Pale Ale with the longest tradition, since it is the first alternative that emerged from the original recipe. It got its name in the early 20th century, during World War I, when people were allowed to drink alcohol on the job. In this sense, each worker had two “sessions” of four hours to rest and drink during their shift. And it is from these rest “sessions” that it takes its name. 

Being at work, they needed a light, fresh, low-alcohol beer. It is for this reason that the most purists point out that the degrees of the Session IPA beer cannot exceed 4%. However, today IPA beers of this style usually have up to 5% ABV. Be that as it may, one of the main characteristics of this type of beers is that they are designed to offer a fresh and light drink.

What is an IPA beer?

IPA beer is often confused with craft beers. However, although they have similar profiles, they do not have much to do with each other. IPA is the acronym for Indian Pale Ale and each of these words provides a characteristic to the beer:

  • India: It’s not that IPAs have their origin in the Asian subcontinent, but they do owe much of their history to it. In this sense, in the eighteenth century, India was a British colony. As in so many other colonies, there was a major logistical problem, since due to its location “in the other part of the world”, it was very difficult for perishable English products such as beer to arrive in good condition. At this time, the Suez Canal did not yet exist and ships had to circumnavigate the entire African continent, passing through the Cape of Good Hope to reach the colonies in Asia. On this voyage, the ships traversed a wide variety of climates, both extremely hot and extremely cold. This caused a serious conservation problem. Again, at this time pasteurization was unknown, so the beers arrived moldy or sour. What was the best solution? Well, very simple; increase the degrees of alcohol and add more hops to preserve the content.
  • Pale : Pale or pale in Spanish, comes from the type of malts and cereals used in its preparation. In this sense, light-colored malts are used for this type of beers, which are cheaper and are dried at lower temperatures, thus preserving most of the enzymes of the cereals and, at the same time, creating beers that are more clear.
  • Ale : This name comes from its fermentation system. These are beers with a higher alcohol volume, since the yeasts used to convert the sugar into alcohol float on the surface of the liquid. This high fermentation process is the opposite of that used in lager-type beers, in which the yeasts remain at the bottom.

IPA-type beers are characterized, first of all, by their more bitter taste , which is due to a higher concentration of hops in their recipe. In this sense, to be considered an IPA beer, it must have a bitterness of between 40 and 100 IBUs (International Bitterness Units, in Spanish; international bitterness units).

How many types of IPA beer are there?

IPAs have an immense variety of alternatives. This is because it is a highly appreciated type of beer, both by consumers and by manufacturers. In this sense, thanks to the recent boom in craft brewing, it is a style that has been greatly revitalized.

For the purists, the main types of IPA beer that exist are the following:

  • American IPA, a reinterpretation of the classic IPA that appeared in the 70s and 80s. It is the most commercialized today, with a more bitter and citric flavor than the classic one.
  • English IPA, it is the original recipe, with a bitter and strong flavor.
  • Imperial IPA or Double IPA, is basically an IPA with more alcohol and more hops.
  • Triple IPA, an even stronger version of the Imperial IPA.
  • Black IPA, a variation in which dark malts are used, resulting in an IPA version of the dark beer.
  • White IPA, a blend of Belgian witbiers and IPAs, with a bitter-sweet taste.
  • Session IPA, one of the best selling and most popular styles. It is a lighter and fresher version of the traditional IPA.

Why is the Session IPA so popular?

In short, this is due to its main characteristics: its lower alcohol content and softer bitterness. In this sense, although it has all the flavor of IPAs, it is less aggressive, making it more suitable for all those users who are used to commercial Lager beers.

Also, with the success of craft beers, the IPA has become a fan favorite. This is because each artisan experiments with their own ingredients to give the beer a personal touch, so you can find IPAs with hints of citrus, with sweeter flavors, as well as black or white Session IPAs.

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