When you open the cooler at this weekend’s nondescript backyard barbecue, you are not going to like what you find. It’s not that you’re some kind of beer snob – in a pinch you’d gladly make do with the cold macro lager and say thanks – it’s just that you had hoped for a little more. Well, it’s not there, and it’s up to people like you to bring it.
But what is it? Saison? No, you better bring enough to share and that would be damn expensive. Pilsner? Could be, but you don’t want to hear about how the local hoppy pilsner you toted in tastes like weird Miller Lite. There is more than one style that would work, but my vote is for the session IPA.
Yes, they typically pack a little bit more of a bitterness punch than your non-hophead is seeking. Sure, they still say “IPA” across the front which causes a few to put it down. For those that stick around though, they may find something they were not expecting. Light, quaffable, agreeabley colored. This is what people (should?) expect out of a beer. Citrus, balance, dryness.
It’s that newness paired with familiar qualities that makes me reach for a session IPA when introducing people to craft beer. That and the fact that usually I have to drink it too. Now the only question is which one? Stone Go To... Firestone Walker Easy Jack... Founders All Day... there are a myriad of good choices, but for me, if my pure mission is a conversion, I’m going with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.
The little brother of the brand’s popular 90 and 120 Minute IPAs, 60 minute cashes in on a similar concept. With 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil and 6.0% alcohol by volume Dogfish Head’s best seller is nothing if not on message, and it’s available in 36 states.
The first taste mirrors the nose – a pleasing light citrus finished with dry maltiness and citrus zest.”
Less hops + less time + lower ABV = drink more Session IPA. Even if the definition of session is a bit lower than six percent, 60 minutes fits the bill.
Simple enough, but what makes 60 minute perfect for a craft beer converter is exactly what leaves the more experienced beer drinker wanting more. It pours a golden amber with a fading half inch head and minimal lacing, but let’s be honest, you definitely served it to your test subject in a can or bottle. As such, the aroma is mostly unimportant. Assuming you bother to pour it, the aroma is slightly citrusy and you can pick out the dry qualities of the malt bill.
The first taste mirrors the nose – a pleasing light citrus finished with dry maltiness and citrus zest. In between doesn’t really matter because if you pause to savor this beer (like most session beers) it fizzes out in your mouth to warm flat nothing. It can come across overly carbonated, under hopped, and too dry while doing enough to remain enjoyable. The dryness, carbonation and forward malt presence are what make this beer an easy sell to the less luponicly inclined. The citrus and grass from the northwest hop additions and distinct malt bill are what keep the beer fan around.
Are there better session beers somewhere in every bottle shop? Yes, but that’s really the point. This is not the beer for the craft connoisseur – it is the beer for the craft virgin convert. The fact that it pleases both is why Dogfish Head keeps cracking new markets. Next time you’re picking up beer for the community cooler this summer, be willing to sacrifice for the group and grab some 60 Minute – or make better friends.