Session IPAs are officially the trend in craft beer this Spring/Summer. Just a year ago you would struggle to find a single beer labeled as a session IPA, but now many of the heavy hitters in craft brewing have released low alcohol hop-forward beers in this category. It makes sense! IPAs are the most popular style of craft beer, but beers that approach 7-8% ABV can be overwhelming to some, especially if you’d like to drink more than 1-2. Many of the vocal detractors of the session IPA trend need to remember that brewing is a business, and breweries need to balance creativity with brewing beers that are going to sell. One of the main criticisms of session IPAs is that most are just American pale ales with a better marketing strategy. This is fair in many cases, the difference between APAs and IPAs is usually lower ABV and less bitterness in a similar overall flavor profile. One of the recent session IPAs to hit the market is Bouncy House, brewed by Smuttynose Brewing Company in Portsmouth NH. Bouncy House was originally released as part of the short batch series, and by their own admission the brewers were careful in avoiding the terms “session” and “IPA” when referring to the beer. Now Bouncy House is a regular, year-round release, available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles, and it’s labeled as an IPA.
Smuttynose Bouncy House IPA pours a dark gold, slightly hazy with a medium white head. The smell is solidly hoppy, some citrus and tropical fruit with a touch of pine. The taste is extremely hop forward, resin, lemon, grapefruit and a little mango and peach. There is also substantial bitterness, some session IPAs drink like pale ales while this has some serious bite. There is just a hint of malt character in the backbone, but this beer is all about the hops. The finish is clean, with a mouth puckering bitterness on the tongue. At 4.3% ABV this is definitely a sessionable beer as it goes down pretty easy. While I understand many of the criticisms of the session IPA style, sometimes it’s nice to have a hoppy beer that won’t get you hammered if you have a few. Under these circumstances, Smuttynose Bouncy House is a solid choice. Hoppy Boston score 4.25/5.
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