My IPA is too heady for this heat: Session IPA selections from Susan’s

Posted: August 7, 2015 by Julie in Beer Review, Beer Weekend, Beer-to-go
Tags: , , , ,
Susan's Fine Wine & Spirits in Santa Fe

Susan’s Fine Wine & Spirits is one of the best beer stores in Santa Fe.

In honor of IPA Day, I went in search of the best out-of-state session IPAs that can be found in Santa Fe. Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits (1005 S. St. Francis Drive) is my go-to place, conveniently located between home and office. I found the beer manager, Matt Zehnder, who was likely afraid I’d repeat my offense when I went in search of new-to-us Evil Twin brews a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, I took all the beer out of the boxes. Two hours old and not in your system? Don’t care. Here’s some money, I’m running out of the store with my spoils.

When he realized I wasn’t going to pillage his nicely arranged shelves, I asked him to weigh in on what he thought were the top session IPAs coming in from points elsewhere. Luckily, we agreed on all of them. Here are our top three picks for non-New Mexico session IPAs.

Green Flash Mosaic Session IPA

Green Flash Mosaic Session IPA

Green Flash Mosaic Session IPA
(4.5% ABV, 65 IBU, 100% Mosaic Hops)

Green Flash has executed a near-perfect score with their Mosaic Session IPA. If you are an IPA fan, you are likely familiar with that hoppy kick and heady scent that their brews have. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it held true with their session IPA, as it doesn’t always translate. On a side note, Zehnder told me that Green Flash made their session IPA as one of their cost-conscious offerings because people were complaining their beer was too expensive (normally they are sold in four-packs for about $10). I happily paid $8.99 for a six-pack at Susan’s of Mosaic Session IPA — well done, Green Flash.

Appearance: Golden-hued with a clean body and nice head.

Scent: When you first open the bottle, you immediately are hit with a complex hop aroma. No traces of skunk or syrup, just clean hops. For scent alone, the Mosaic wins hands down among the brews reviewed here.

Taste: The hops profile is complex and dense, but not overpowering. The citrus notes are tampered by deep, earthy underpinnings. It’s balanced, crisp, and lets the hops shine. It has a bitter finish, but doesn’t overpower the hops profile when you are done swallowing.

Mouthfeel: Because it’s only 4.5-percent ABV, the feel remains light. This feels like a summer beer in your mouth.

Overall: Balanced, clean, and crisp, it doesn’t skimp on classic hops flavor. The clear winner of the group, this brew is going to be a staple in this girl’s repertoire for the remainder of the summer.

Full Sail's Session IPA

Full Sail’s Session IPA

Full Sail Session IPA
(5.1% ABV)

Admittedly, I was wary about this one. In the other Session (or Full Sail) beers, I haven’t found a personality trait that seems to help distinguish them from others. Yes, the stubby bottle is cute. What surprised me was the orange scent wafting from the bottle when I first opened it. The scent translated into taste, as I soon found out.

Appearance: Clear, deep gold body with a very low amount of head. No lacing.

Scent: The orange scent is light at first, but intensifies when you pour it. Overall, the scent is on the lighter side and not very bold, but is definitely there.

Taste: The orange remains on the back end, but it’s even-tempered and accompanied by hints of tangerine and melon. It’s a fairly modest taste — not over the top, and definitely not showy like the Mosaic.

Mouthfeel: High carbonation for a beer that weighs in at only 5.1-percent ABV. And, I believe the feel is a little on the thick and syrupy side to be called a true sessionable ale.

Overall: This could almost be classified as a citrus-inspired pale ale. With the carbonation and slightly syrupy feel, it definitely clocks in as a heavyweight compared to the others in this review.

Oskar Blues' Pinner Throwback IPA is the perfect summer beer.

Oskar Blues’ Pinner Throwback IPA is the perfect summer beer.

Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA
(4.9% ABV, 35 IBU)

I found this crushable summer ale in Durango this past spring after mountain biking there, and have been buying it regularly ever since. I love it because it’s supremely refreshing, light, and perfect for the summer heat. While not as forward on its hops profile as the other two, it reads as an interesting mix of hoppy pale ale and pilsner.

Appearance: Very light, clean, yellow-gold body. Decent amount of head and lacing after settling.

Scent: Fruity nose that includes peach, mango, and tangerine balanced by a very slight hint of hops.

Taste: It’s like your session IPA went and hooked up with your favorite pilsner. If that doesn’t do it for you, I urge you to try it anyhow. This is the go-to beer on that super hot day. It’s the beer you grab after a mountain bike ride to cool down. It’s light on hops and bitterness, but very well balanced. It finishes with a light, toasted aftertaste that is quickly washed away by your next sip.

Mouthfeel: Low to moderate carbonation with an exceptionally light feel in your mouth.

Overall: This beer is built for speed. It’s completely refreshing to find a style that seems to marry two very separate profiles into one stand-out summer brew.

Bonus from the cutting room floor:

Che has a very discerning sensibility when it comes to IPAs. He decided to check out one of the beers that didn't make our top-three cut.

Che has a very discerning sensibility when it comes to IPAs. He decided to check out one of the beers that didn’t make our top-three cut.

Honorable Mention: New Belgium’s Slow Ride Session IPA kept me hydrated while in Fort Worth this past weekend. Crisp, balanced and hoppy, it quenches your thirst when the heat index is triple digits.

Feel I left something out? Find me on Instagram: @craftwhores and ask me to follow up with more reviews.


— Julie


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