Over the last 10 years, craft brewers have pushed beer to its limits, chasing the hoppiest, most alcoholic, most badass beer they can make. Beers like Dogfish Head's My Antonia and Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout.
And really, who can blame them? In the first place, it's delicious. Maybe more importantly, it's macho. And for most brewers, that's kind of a big deal.
The problem with extreme beers is that once you've had two or three, you're toast. And most of us-well, we don't want to seal the deal that quickly. We want a beer that can take us through the night. We want a beer that we can sit down and get to know.
Enter High Cotton's new Session IPA. At 4% alcohol by volume, it's the kind of beer that can take you through a summer barbecue-the kind of thing where you can have a beer an hour for five hours and not get drunk. Even better: it's delicious.
“Don't get me wrong,” says brewer Ryan Staggs, “I'm all about big, bad beers. But extreme hops and high alcohol content can cover a lot of sins. For me, the bigger challenge is to develop a lighter beer that tastes good and still exhibits the characteristics of a given style.”
Staggs is the chief operating officer at High Cotton and the brains behind their new Session IPA. To make it, he started with Great Western malt-a light base malt-and added a little bit of Vienna malt for body.
To flavor the beer, Staggs chose two kinds of hops: Chinook and Sorachi Ace. The result is an eminently drinkable summer beer, with lemon peel and citrus in the nose. The flavor is light and clean, starting off sweet and ending with just a hint of bitterness.
In other words: fire up the grill.
“You know it's a good IPA,” says Staggs, “when you burp and you can taste the hops. And you're like, hey, that's pretty good actually. That's a fine IPA.”