For this session, I chose a true ‘session’ beer – Stone Brewing Company’s new 2014 offering, the GoTo IPA.
Before we get into the brew, let’s quickly talk about the Session style of beer. In basic terms, this is a beer with a lower ABV which lends itself well to a proper 2-3 hour drinking ‘session.’ Yes, this is a beer that you can indulge in over the course of a few hours and not immediately feel its effects.
With that said, you can say that a session beer is the polar opposite of an imperial-styled brew. Generally, a session beer contains a nice balance of malt and hops, offering a highly drinkable and crisp sud. The session beer may get a bad reputation from time to time as it often sacrifices flavor for drinkablity. Stone Brewing Co, however, sets out to create a flavorful, hop-forward session beer with their GoTo IPA.
To achieve this, Stone uses a technique called “hop bursting” in which they inject ‘an irrational amount of hops’ into the beer at the final phase of the brewing process. Sounds a lot like Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo dry-hopping method, doesn’t it? Well, almost.
The dry-hopping technique is usually performed during the fermentation process, resulting in more of a grassy taste, while hop-bursting adds a ton of hops to the final wort, adding more of a floral, fruity taste, while keeping the ABV significantly lower.
Now, onto the actual sud. Once uncapped, you get the hoppy aromas of peach and pineapple with minor pine and citrus notes. This is a great smelling beer for such a low ABV. It pours a golden orange with a pure white, one finger head.
The taste is of tropical fruits – peach, mango, pineapple. It is a dry beer with a hint of bready malt. After a few sips you can certainly tell that there is a difference between Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo process and Stone’s hop-bursting technique. These are two completely different tasting beers. The mouthfeel is thin and leaves you wanting to take an additional sip of this fruity, hoppy beer, perhaps turning one quick sud into a proper drinking session.
Final thoughts – if you’re heading to a buddy’s house for a few hours and need to drive home later, the responsible adult in you should tell you that an imperial ale is off limits. In this case, Stone’s GoTo IPA might be your new go-to! Hop-heads can rejoice for a session beer with a great, hoppy taste. After a few of these, you will forget you are drinking a session beer, but still remember your name!