I fall into a category of fast drinkers. I take large sips. Some might call it a big mouth. I say it’s my way of offering my best effort. Go hard or go home, right? Anyhow, large sips mean empty glasses and bottles, which means the next drink. Combine that with a complete lack of impulse control, and I end up totally blotto and weighed down by a “How did that happen?” bar tab. About five years ago, in an amazing act of gluttony and self-destruction, I put away 24 bottles of Blue Moon’s winter seasonal: a sugared abbey ale tipping in at 5.6% ABV. I’m not sure exactly what I was trying to prove. I was careless, I was drunk, but mostly I was bloated for a few days after.
What I could have used that evening was a quality session beer: a low ABV, lighter weight beer with more flavor than a Bud Light. Founders Brewing Company makes the All Day IPA, the gold standard of this class of 4 percentish ales with a solid IPA flavor. It’s the type of beer that goes down very smooth, allowing one to consume a large quantity in one sitting, or session.
Stone Brewing Company entered the session race in 2014 with the Go To IPA. The challenge here is to reduce the alcohol content without compromising the beer’s hoppy profile. Here we get a 4.5% ABV India Pale Ale with a 65 on the IBU scale (for reference, Stone’s flagship IPA scores 77 on the same scale). Stone utilizes a technique called hop bursting, where it overloads the beer with hops during the final phase of brewing to “coax out extreme flavors and aromas while also imparting a burst of desirably pleasant bitterness.” The result is a quality IPA with a deceptively low alcohol rating.
How does it stand up against Founders? The All Day IPA is more balanced with less hops and more malt than the Stone entry. You could call Stone’s Go To IPA a low alcohol IPA, but it’s really the first true session IPA. The IPA designation is deceiving on Founders’ label, simply as a matter of hop content. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant ale that I will continue to drink when I don’t want the big hop flavor, but what Stone did here was redefine things with the Go To IPA.
And now we have choices. Founders All Day, the best session ale out there, and Stone Go To IPA, the best session IPA you can buy.
Brewer: Stone Brewing Company
Beer: Go To IPA
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4.5% IBU: 65
Container: 12 oz. bottle
Price: n/a (provided by Stone Brewing Company) Point of Purchase: n/a
To The Eye: Clear, golden with a big head.
To The Nose: Big piney fragrance as you would expect from an IPA.
To The Palate: Hoppy and citrusy up front, with a dry, crisp finish.
Aftertaste: The dryness lingers well after you set the glass down.
Boozy Factor: You expect this to have a big kick. Maybe it was psychological, or maybe it was the pot of boiling water nearby (I was making dinner), but I felt warm after drinking.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 9