This year, Founders Brewing Co. is celebrating 20 years in business spanning 1997 to 2017. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, based brewery began with two homebrewers turned brewery founders that quit their jobs and risked everything to start the company together. After nearing bankruptcy in the early stages, the brewers decided to step up the aggressiveness of their beers across the board in an attempt to keep the doors open.
I think you could say the change worked out for them. Now the 16th-largest brewery in the U.S., Founders’ aggressive brewing style has turned out memorable beers across myriad styles and made it one of the most well-regarded and well-distributed craft brands in the country. That trademark in your face quality is reflected well in the brewery’s Breakfast Stout and Dirty Bastard Scotch ale (and even more so in each beers delicious variants).
It is funny then that the beer that now makes up over 50% of Founders’ sales is a 4.7% alcohol by volume 42 IBU session IPA. What began as a quest to make a great tasting low alcohol beer turned into the start of a new beer category – a very lucrative one for Founders – and in February 2012 All Day IPA was released.
But just because the ABV and IBUs each start with a four doesn’t mean this isn’t an aggressive beer. All Day boasts a complex malt profile, is well hopped and does not neglect the aromatics. For me, it is nearly the perfect session IPA.
I cannot imagine I’m in the majority here, pouring America’s number one craft can from a bottle into a tulip glass to examine its color, head and lacing. But bear with me, this is a beer that deserves savoring – even if it was brewed to be gulped from a can all day.
It is remarkable to have this volume and distinction of flavor with such a light body.”
All Day pours a slightly hazy golden amber that looks more like a standard IPA than a session. What it has in color it lacks in head, beginning with a cap of small bubbles on top of the beer that quickly dissipates nearly to non existence. The head gives away that this may be something a little lighter, but the aroma backs up the color in trying to fool you this is a full bodied IPA. Strong citrus notes please the nose and beg you to take a sip. I’ll oblige.
The immediate hoppy citrus flavors claim your palate and distract from the very light body. The front end flavor of this beer compares very favorably to any standard IPA on the market. Floral notes and resiny pine tastes balance the citrusy sweetness and provide something rare in a session IPA – a true second or middle note. Citrus rind bitterness pleasantly dries out the finish with some of the floral hints lingering on the palate.
All of this flavor plays over a very light and airy body that manages to avoid being thin. The feel is the only aspect that gives away that All Day is a session beer. It is remarkable to have this volume and distinction of flavor with such a light body – even more so with such low bitterness and minimal sweetness. It is equally impressive to have this light mouthfeel while remaining crisp and not at all watery.
This is a beer that allows you to drink often and well, to enjoy the flavor of a well made beer several times and also enjoy the rest of your day. So while a session IPA does not fit with the big beer achievements for which Founders came to be known, All Day is a delicious IPA that only injects the “session” aspects into the right areas – ABV and body.