Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
This week’s beer has long been a staple of my drinking, one that I now find littered around the ballpark while taking in a game, despite the fact that the brewery is located more than 700 miles away. Like many delicious beers of this ilk, Founders Brewing Company’s All Day IPA is brewed in Michigan, Grand Rapids to be exact, and over the last decade it’s become the gold standard of Session Ales, making up 50 percent of the company’s sales.
Founded in 1996 by Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers, Founders has grown into one of the largest craft breweries in the United States, producing more than 340,000 barrels annually, according to Wikipedia – which is rumored to expand to 900,000 after a facility expansion – in more than 37 states but it’s not just the volume at which the company produces, but also the quality of beer. With several household names in the beer world like Kentucky Breakfast Stout and Centennial IPA, as well as a slew of medals between the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival, Founders continues to leave its imprint as a brewing powerhouse.
Before we delve into why All Day IPA is so great, maybe you’re wondering exactly what is a Session Ale. Gather ’round, folks, it’s story time.
Now, this particular style of beer is one of the most complex and most difficult to define. The term session supposedly dates back to World War I era, when factory workers were allotted two drinking periods – or “sessions” each work day, which called for a lighter beer with a lighter alcohol by volume content. It’s since morphed from ale to mainly IPA, one that is typically a four or five percent ABV brew, flavorful and super easy to drink – that way you can stick with it for an extended period of drinking. If you want to better understand how All Day IPA came about and how the brewery classified it as a Session IPA, here’s a video of Founders’ head brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki:
There, now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about the characteristics behind this benchmark beer. All Day IPA is a year-round effort, with a 4.7 percent ABV and a 42 on the International Bitterness Units scale. The beer was created for the staff as something they’d want to drink, a slight departure from the typical heavier beers the brewery was crafting, ones with high alcohol that often sat heavily in stomachs. For those patrons that were unsure about venturing into something far from the norm, the brewery needed a drink closer to a universal palate – a Bud Light-style beer that’s easy to drink and keep drinking. And that’s exactly what they made, according to the label:
“The beer you’ve been waiting for. Keeps your taste satisfied while keeping your senses sharp. An all-day IPA naturally brewed with a complex array of malts, grains and hops. Balanced for optimal aromatics and a clean finish. The perfect reward for an honest day’s work and the ultimate companion to celebrate life’s simple pleasures.”
After pouring the bottle, I took a strong whiff and noticed the aroma of piney hops, along with citrus and perhaps just a hint of grain – a pretty standard smelling IPA. All Day poured pretty easily, with a small white head that made way to a golden color that featured just a hint of amber haziness. As per most of its counterparts, there was plenty of carbonation as well. The taste of this beer is refreshing, offering hints of grapefruit juice, which provide a sweet, sour and bitter flavor all at the exact same time. It finishes with a light piney bitterness that can linger for a little while after the sip but it left me wanting more. Overall, this beer is perfect for a brutally hot summer afternoon as you can continue to go back to the cooler time and time again, without running the risk of passing out after a handful. And, if you get tired of it, All Day mixes well with other beers, so that your stomach doesn’t have to be punished for switching things up a little. It’s available in six-pack bottles, which I purchased for about $11, while the 15-pack cans typically run about $15 to $17. You can find more information on their social sites.
All Day IPA has received a 3.87 (out of 5) on BeerAdvocate but I think that score might just be a little low for one of the most accessible craft beers that really set the standard for drinkability. That’s why I give this beer, perhaps the best Founders has ever created besides KBS – though I have yet to have the opportunity to try the highly-regarded Red’s Rye IPA which is only available on draft – an 8.3 (out of 10). It’s one of the easiest beers you will ever taste, without sacrificing any flavor. It’s the perfect summer brew!