Beavertown: Neck Oil Session IPA (England: Session IPA: 4.3% ABV)
Visual: Lemon juice pale yellow. Mounded white froth and large amounts of carbonation.
Nose: Fresh. Lemon on pancakes. Clean. Lightly musty as it warms. Digestives. Kiwi.
Body: Light lemon. Prickly but mild hops. Vanilla and mild toffee. Milky notes. Ovaltine back. Caramel as it warms. Orange juice. Very mild milky coffee.
Finish:Squeezed lime. Ovaltine. Popcorn hop character. Bready. Moderate bitterness. Kiwi. Very mild milky coffee.
Conclusion: Now I am nearly always kind of down on the session IPA as a style, but this is pretty much the one and only session IPA so far that I respect. Time to put it on the autopsy table and see what makes it tick. Or something. That metaphor may not have made sense.
What really stands out is that it isn’t too dry. Dry can work with a big IPA or Imperial IPA, but in the session case it always seems to end up tasting like a badly built American Pale Ale to me. While this does not bring spectacular flavour levels, that slightly creamier body means that it has a lot more leeway in how it brings its flavours. It can make it as drinkable as a session IPA should be, and still let it lean dry at the finish, but by that point it has already delivered the flavours well.
Flavour wise it keeps it simple – soft lemon, mild kiwi back, with hop bitterness present but somewhat understated. It works more as a slow build up than an instant kick. Over time you get a lingering bitter finish, but, again, soft enough to session.
The sweetness rises as it warms, soft toffee into caramel. Because of that sweetness the horrid cardboard notes of many a session IPA are absent. You can feel at the edges where they could come out, but they are kept under control.
Designed for the session, it doesn’t instantly shout to be respected, but it has just enough flavour, just enough body, just enough bitterness to enjoy at that point. Time is what brings it respect, that it holds up to the session it is built for. By half way through the can it is going nicely, and keeps plenty of room to continue growing – lime notes build slowly and an initially simple beer gains enough respect to be one I return to again and again. In fact each session IPA I drink seems to make me respect it more as I see how so many others can fail.
Every brewer, please ask Beavertown for advice. They can do session IPAs. Most of you can’t.
Background: Yes, it is here, the one session IPA I speak highly of. I have mentioned it enough times, and drunk enough cans that I thought I should finally do notes on it. So I grabbed a can from Independent Spirit, and got to work, It is also part of the end of an era. Yet another notebook full of notes. Time to move on to pages new. Here’s to all of you, cheers!