A session IPA might be the all-time best style to offer you an early spring break from darker, maltier beers after a long winter. These brews really lean into the lighter aspects of IPAs ,while still holding onto the bigger hop flavor profiles. This subset of the larger IPA universe are the sorts of beers you’ll continue drinking straight into the scorching summer months — especially since these beers are generally five percent or lower (which is what makes them “sessionable”).
Session IPAs, specifically, are lighter and less filling than a majority of other IPA styles and tend to be balanced and a little less bitter, while still having a bit of a floral, hop bite. The thing is, this all varies massively depending on the brewer’s whims. Some session IPAs might be bigger hop bombs than your average pale ale while others might lean more into the malts. It’s a crapshoot out there when it comes to nailing down a clear throughline.
The subtle, refreshing, balance of malt and hops and easy drinkability makes the session IPA a great choice for a blind taste test. There are quite a few on the market and many of them are very similar. What better way to finally find out which session IPA stands tall among them?
Today I’m drinking:
- Societe The Coachman IPA
- Lost Nation Lost Galaxy
- Odell Good Behavior IPA
- Green Flash Saturhaze IPA
- Revolution Every Day Hero IPA
- Founders All Day IPA
- Drake’s Kick Back IPA
- Lagunitas Daytime IPA
Let’s get our session on!
Part 1: The Taste
Wow, this beer has a lot going on in its nose. There were notes of mango, guava, and tropical fruits, bread-like malts, wet grass, citrus zest, and dank resin. Sipping it revealed a slightly juicy, hazy beer with hints of biscuit malts, sweet caramel, wet grass, mango, passion fruit, and slightly bitter pine.
It’s obviously low in alcohol but should still appeal to hazy IPA fans.
On the nose, I found aromas of lemon curd, wet grass, ripe peach, pineapple, and slight, floral hops. The palate is loaded with dank, resinous hops, grapefruit, tangerine, caramel malts, and gentle, pleasing hop bitterness at the finish.
Overall, this is a very complex, flavorful session IPA.
This beer definitely smells more like an IPA than some of the beers on this list. There is a distinct pine aroma with a little citrus zest and floral hops. That’s where it starts and that’s where it ends. Sipping it didn’t reveal much more flavor. There are flavors of resinous pine, grapefruit, tangerine, and some bready malts.
A decent, albeit muted session IPA.
A complex nose of citrus zest, wet grass, ripe pineapple, and slight pine met me before my first sip. Then after taking a drink, it moved into notes of tangerine, caramelized pineapple, wet grass, peach, bready malts, and maybe a hint of melon. The finish was light and fruity with just the right amount of hop bitterness.
There’s not much going on with this beer’s nose. There are slight aromas of wet grass and some floral hops, but not much else. The palate is very watery and borders on fizzy water with some light bready malts, floral, piney hops, and a slightly fruity flavor.
From my notes: “It does its job but does it without adding much excitement.”
A tropical bounty awaits your nostrils when you nose this beer. There are scents of ripe pineapple, mango, tangerine, honeydew melon, bready malts, and slightly dank pine resin. Sipping it brought forth notes of guava, mango, passion fruit, pineapple, citrus zest, lemongrass, and biscuit-like malts. The finish is slightly bitter and memorable.
There are a lot of aromas intermingling in this beer’s nose. I found ripe pineapple, honeydew melon, mango, tangerine, pine needs, and caramel malts. On the palate, I found more juicy pineapple, melon, various other tropical fruit flavors, orange peel, lime, slightly resinous pine, and light pale malts.
All in all, it’s a surprisingly complex and well-balanced session IPA.
The nose is floral and lightly fruity, but otherwise fairly subdued. Sipping revealed a slightly more complex beer than the nose suggested with hints of lemongrass, slight bready malts, and floral, slightly bitter hops. It’s dry and light, but overall lacking in the flavor department.
Definitely a crushable beer, but not one you’ll ever rave about.
Part 2: The Ranking
8) Lagunitas Daytime IPA — Taste 8
Average Price: $10 for a six-pack
Lagunitas is well-known for its IPA prowess so it was only a matter of time before it launched a session IPA. Its aptly named Daytime IPA was created to be low in carbs, calories, alcohol content, but not flavor. They did this by creating this hoppy, light, very crushable beer with malts, Centennial and Citra hops, and even some oats.
I expected a little more from Lagunitas, because their Hop Stoopid was one of the first IPAs I fell in love with. Compared to that, this beer is… just okay.
7) Founders All Day IPA — Taste 5
Average Price: $8.50 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
Founders All Day IPA is arguably the most well-known session IPA on the market. This 4.7 percent brew was created to be enjoyed “all day” with a balanced flavor profile of malts, hops, and grains. It’s slightly hoppy, very crushable, and crisp. There’s a reason it’s so popular.
I’ve never been really impressed with Founders All Day IPA so I’m not surprised this beer landed where it did. It’s an easy-drinking beer without much substance.
6) Revolution Every Day Hero IPA — Taste 3
Average Price: $17 for a fifteen-pack
Everyone needs an everyday hero, right? Well, this 4.3 percent ABV was created to be an everyday sipper, a respite from hoppier, heavier beers. This year-round, slightly bitter, fruity IPA gets its flavors from the addition of Sabro, El Dorado, Mosaic, and Cascade hops.
With the varying hops included in this session IPA, I expected a little more complexity in the flavor department. It had all of the flavors drinkers associate with IPAs. But they were all a little too light.
5) Green Flash Saturhaze IPA — Taste 1
Average Price: $11.50 for a six-pack
When you crack open a Green Flash Saturhaze, you know what you’re about to get into. A Hazy, light beer that you should drink and enjoy on a Saturday. This year-round offering is 4.2% and was crafted to be light in alcohol, but big in juicy, tropical fruit flavors.
Green Flash is an IPA factory. It shouldn’t be surprising that its hazy, juicy session IPA is actually pretty good. It’s not easy to make a good low alcohol version of a New England-style IPA, but Green Flash did it. Still, there were a few beers that did it better in today’s lineup.
4) Odell Good Behavior IPA — Taste 4
Average Price: $9 for a six-pack
Odell’s Good Behavior was crafted to be a balanced, crushable, low calorie, low alcohol, slightly hazy IPA and that’s exactly what it is. They did that by using their own proprietary yeast, a blend of malts, and HBC 586, Citra, and Amarillo hops.
Odell Good Behavior ticks all of the session IPA boxes. It’s light, refreshing, complex, and manages to be well balanced with malts, grains, and hops all working in unison. It’s a solid take on the style.
3) Societe The Coachman IPA — Taste 7
Average Price: $12 for a six-pack
San Diego’s Societe is a big name in the IPA world. Its IPA The Pupil is constantly one of the top ten highest-rated IPAs on BeerAdvocate. Its award-winning session IPA, The Coachman, is known for its balanced fruity, malty, memorable flavor profile.
I’m a big fan of Societe The Pupil, so I wasn’t surprised when the brewery’s session IPA was so flavorful and balanced. There’s a reason this beer keeps racking up awards.
2) Drake’s Kick Back IPA — Taste 2
Average Price: $10.50 for a six-pack
Drake’s wants you to “Kick Back” and enjoy this surprisingly complex session IPA. Brewed with 2-row and Simpson Best Pale malts, Simpson Golden Naked oats, hulled barley flakes, California ale yeast, and Cascade, Chinook, Simcoe, Mosaic, El Dorado, and Pekko hops, it’s hoppy, refreshing, and highly crushable.
It’s difficult to find a session IPA with more flavor than Drake’s Kick Back. One sampling definitely wasn’t enough to find them all. I’ll definitely try this one again.
1) Lost Nation Lost Galaxy — Taste 6
Average Price: $13 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
Lost Nation Lost Galaxy isn’t your average, watery session beer. This wheat-based, slightly hazy beer is brewed with Galaxy hops (hence the name). This gives it a hazy, juicy flavor with a nice mix of dank hops and tropical fruit flavor.
Lost Nation Lost Galaxy is a really good session IPA. If someone told you this beer was low in alcohol, you wouldn’t believe them because it’s so full of tropical fruit flavor, you’d just assume it was seven percent ABV or more. And that, folks, is why this is the winner today — balance, depth, and session-ability are all there.