As session ales have become more popular I applauded because it represents a departure from the boozier is better mantra of many craft beers. The style also requires a deft hand because there is a demonstrable lack of alcohol and bitterness to hide flaws in the construction of the beers body or mistakes in the execution of the brewing process.
Session ales also represent a nice jumping off point for people hesitant to leave the confines of macro-lagers. IPAs with nearly twice the alcohol and orders of magnitude more bitterness than a Miller Lite can be intimidating. A session ale from a real craft brewery is a solid alternative to Blue Moon as the gateway drug for real beer.
Odell Brewing Company out of Fort Collins, Colorado comes to the table with their Loose Leaf Session Ale:
Coming in at 4.5% ABV with just 31 IBU the beer is hitting the mark purely based on the numbers, but numbers alone do not make a beer regardless of what the guys at Stone Brewing try telling you as they pour the latest ash tray in a bottle concoction.
Loose Leaf Session Ale exhibits some of the worst tendencies of the beer type. Here is what I mean. Too many “session” beers taste like the brewer sat down and said, “We need a lower alcohol beer, so I will just take our flagship IPA cut out some hops and malt. Boom! Session ale!”
What you end up with is a beer that tastes like a watered down IPA rather than something unique. Session ales can and have been done well. Reference All Day IPA, a personal favorite of mine and one of the best go-to beers on the market.
Loose Leaf Session Ale reminds me of many of New Belgium’s latest beers that seem like short step derivatives on one another or, more troubling, a better recipe that has been bastardized in the effort to create something buzzworthy.
Honestly, this beer is a step up from the macro lager you might drink when a cooler full of cans is rolled out after a long day of riding but it is not an outstanding option:
See what others are saying about Odell Brewing Company Loose Leaf Session Ale @ Beeradvocate.