FOUNDERS ALL DAY IPA

Can a beer really be an “India Pale Ale” when it weighs in at 4.7% abv? I think this is a pretty fair question, and despite a love of Founders Brewing, I can’t help but lean toward “no.” I had been looking forward to trying this new “session IPA” since it was announced, and although it’s a fine, tasty beer, I do think the labeling is rather inaccurate and a little misleading.

The problem is that it’s easy to see why a brewery like Founders would want to label a brew like this a “session IPA” rather than just calling it an American Pale Ale. IPAs get more attention from we aleheads, and the idea of one that weighs in at only 4.7% is a novelty. With session craft beer becoming one of the hotter trends in the brewing world, breweries are faced with the question of “How do we make new beers that are sessionable that will also capture some attention and generate a little hype?” Releasing this beer as a “session APA” with exactly the same recipe simply wouldn’t have gotten Founders as much attention as this brew has received from beer geeks and fellow bloggers like us. Would we accept it in exactly the same way if Founders brewed “All Day Stout,” a 5% abv “session imperial stout”? Would the resulting beer not simply be a regular American-style stout?

The one other gripe that I must mention is a price point issue. I am a very cheap, very thrifty craft beer drinker. Because of this, the IDEA of session brews is often one that I find appealing, but a lot of that optimism goes away when these brews are priced exactly the same as their burlier cousins. Case in point: At the local package store where I picked up some All Day IPA, all year-round Founders six packs are $9.99. This includes the brewery’s regular IPA, Centennial, which clocks in at 7.2% and maintains the stronger beeradvocate rating, if you care about that sort of thing. Quite simply, because I am cheap, when I go out beer shopping, I am looking for the best “taste bargains”—the most flavor for my buck, as it were. If the brewery were able to produce and sell a beer like All Day IPA for even $1 less than the other six packs to denote its “session status,” it would make me purchasing it more likely on a regular basis. With all the people out there who are trying to stretch their beer budget, I can’t be the only one who thinks that way.

Like I said in the first paragraph, however, not to be lost in all this is the fact that All Day IPA actually is a good beer. Here’s your tasting note.

Founders All Day IPA

NOTES: 12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass

ABV: A sessionable 4.7%

APPEARANCE:Very light orange with a single finger of big, fizzy bubbles.

AROMA: Strong, hoppy aroma with a lot of grapefruit and some floral stuff. The grapefruit really stands out. Smells like it would fit in among many west-coast IPAs.

TASTE: It’s not quite as hoppy tasting as it smells. There’s an underlying grainy malt flavor here and a bit of fruitiness that almost reminds me of grapes, oddly. It manages to be “hoppy beer” while still coming close to being balanced. It’s almost reminds me of a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that has had its intensity ticked up a couple notches.

MOUTHFEEL: Pretty light, obviously. Meant for quaffing, goes down easy.

DRINKABILITY: This is meant to be hoppy beer that is consumable en masse, and that’s pretty much what it is. You can drink the entire six pack, and alcohol-wise it’s equivalent to having had about four of the Founders Centennials.

OVERALL: 3 hops. I can’t help but think that if this beer was labeled “American pale ale” when I picked it up, I would be raving that it’s a best-in-style contender. But if you’re going to call your beer an IPA at 4.7%, then prepare for it to be judged next to all the bigger, meatier IPAs out there. It’s great for its intended purpose. If it were available cheaper than Centennial IPA, I might buy it regularly. As is, I just don’t know when I’ll end up having it again. Perhaps in the heat of summer, the idea of All Day IPA will appeal to me more.

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17 comments

  1. Without doubt a beer can be called an IPA if it’s 4.7%, there are hundreds of examples over here. Of course, the style ‘below’ an IPA in each country – English Pale Ales and American Pale Ales – are pretty different to eachother, but I can see why Founders would prefer their session beer to be known as an IPA rather than a APA.

    As to your stout comparison – absolutely a ‘5% imperial stout’ would be better known simply as a stout*, but as the ‘I’ in IPA doesn’t stand for imperial, a 5% IPA is just…an…IPA.

    Anyway, styles are all bollocks anyway. As long as the beer is good, that’s all the matters. The more pressing question is why the car on the label has a frankfurter strapped to the roof?

    *In most cases, I’ve yet to try Nøgne Ø’s Inferial, alcohol-free, imperial stout

    1. I agree that an IPA has nothing to do with the alcohol content. Rather, it has to do with the balance of hops to malt; whereas pale ales are generally balanced between the two, IPAs tend to be more hoppy, with higher bittering units, than pale ales, whether American or British style. So yes, an IPA can be lower than 5%

  2. I’m a little confused – are you saying you can’t have “sessionable” IPA’s at under 5% ABV or that Founders “All Day IPA” isn’t a good example of one?

    Of my reading comprehension still works, I believe you’re saying the former. If my memory still works it reminds me that the original IPA’s especially those that were actually consumed in England after the initial focus on “India” were ALL sessionable and some even below 4% ABV.

    Remember in the 18th and 19th centuries just like today brewers in the U.K. were taxed by their products level ABV% – and they like you were cheap! ;=}

    1. I don’t think Martyn Cornell would agree that most of these beers were of lower ABV back then. I believe, if memory serves, from what I’ve read of his research things were actually quite a bit stronger on average then. The first time gravity really went quite a bit down across the board was due to WWI and then WWII rationing.

      Rich, is that your understanding?

      Regardless, what I was saying is that “I’m not sure this is actually an ‘IPA,’ and am not sure that a session-strength beer at 4.7% can be CALLED and IPA and be accurate.”

      I just think it’s a little unfair that they can get more attention for the exact same beer by calling it a “session IPA” rather than calling it an American pale ale.

  3. Actually Kid, I take back my ‘hundreds’ comment – forgive the exaggeration. It got me to thinking, so I’ve checked a lot of the British IPA’s we’ve featured – most start at 5%. I wonder if that’s the cutoff in some circumstances, below which you need to start talking about golden ales and soforth…

    1. Yeah, I was strictly talking about American-style IPA, as currently defined by a group like the BJCP.

      And I still think the “imperial stout” comparison is perfectly apt. When you read “imperial stout” instead of “stout” on a label, knowledge of the styles implies that the imperial one has more alcohol and is the bigger beer. Likewise, when you read “india-style” or just “india” pale ale on a label instead of regular “pale ale,” knowledge of the styles implies the “india” beer has more alcohol and more hops.

      Here, they deliver on part of that (the hops), but if you were going to receive the beer in an unmarked bottle and sort it into a category, it would end up as an APA for the fact that it’s 4.7%

      And yes, I know everyone will say “what do styles matter.” Styles DON’T matter; what matters is how a brewery is using style terminology to market a product. I just don’t know if I agree this is the right choice.

      As another example, say they decided they wanted to make a “session tripel” at 5%. Is that still a tripel? Or is it now basically a Belgian Singel?

      1. Of course Kid, the Aleheads are as American as apple pie and the forward pass – it stands to reason you were talking about American IPA. As Slouch points out, these are 5.5% and over according to the BJPC.

        Off the top of my head, the lowest abv British IPA I can think of is from Liverpool – Cains IPA rocks up at 3.5% (although I’m sure there are other examples of lower abv IPA’s). Our local Deuchars is 3.8% (on cask). That’s a key point, as all these sub 4% UK IPA’s are cask, the bottled variety is usually stronger (Deuchars being a dizzying 4.4%).

        I totally take your point about expecting an American ‘IPA’ to yield more alcohol and hop flavour. To me, even American Pale Ales get me twitching in expectation. Would you say a lot of people there don’t have knowledge of the styles – explaining why Founders went with All Day IPA instead of All Day APA?

        The bottom line is that they (and every other brewery) can call their beer whatever they want – if they did decide to make a session tripel, fair enough – but in my mind, if it ain’t from Belgium, it’s not a tripel. But that’s a whole other can of worms.

        In summary, beer is good.

        1. I would say that on the contrary, a lot of people here DO have knowledge of the styles. Founders called this thing “All Day IPA” because beer geeks in general are going to be more interested in something labeled IPA than labeled “pale ale.” A “session pale ale” wouldn’t have gotten them any press or attention. This, however, did. I just think it’s savvy marketing, but a little confusing.

  4. For what it’s worth, BJPC guidelines put American Pale Ales between 4.5 and 6.2 ABV and American IPAs between 5.5 and 7.5. So the All Day IPA would be considered the former in competition?

    But as Beercast Rich notes, styles are bollocks. I wish they had marketed this as Founders IPA Light. Can’t wait to try it.

  5. As far as the pricing goes, retailers set their own pricing. The brewery can sell their beers to them at varying prices, but many retailers are inclined to set “tiers” and be done with it.

    1. Indeed, I shouldn’t have made it sound as if the brewers were the ones setting prices. That obviously is not how it works.

  6. I’ve got to admit that the “IPA” marketing slant usually gets me to pick up a new beer. I’m a sucker for IPAs. Founder’s isn’t available in these parts, so I won’t be trying this one anytime soon. Although I’m interested in the “session beer” trend, like Kid Carboy I also value more ABV for my beer bucks. Given the choice between a 4.7% IPA and a 7% IPA at the same price point, I’m grabbing the 7%.every time.

    1. It can be tough to make this argument without sounding like some sort of alcoholic, but if we didn’t like the effect of alcohol, we wouldn’t be very good craft beer geeks, would we?

      1. It’s a rarely-discussed aspect of beer geekdom, but we all know that the REAL reason we’re Aleheads is because we like getting drunk.

        You can wax poetic about esters and farmhouse funk, Citra hops and toffee notes…but you’re not really fooling anyone. Yes, we love the delirious variety of flavors and aromas in craft beer. But mostly, we like the booze.

        Beer blogs are just a way to hide that fact behind a shallow pretense of a “hobby”. It’s really the greatest trick in the book…convincing others that your drinking problem is a worthy intellectual pursuit.

  7. photo blanket…

    […]FOUNDERS ALL DAY IPA « ALEHEADS[…]…

  8. It is so gassy it spills over the top of the glass!

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