Sparging Options for Session Beers

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If you undersparge, you leave usable sugars behind in the grain bed. If you oversparge, you extract an excessive amount of tannins. When brewing a session beer, collecting the proper volume of wort allows you to get a reasonable extract efficiency and brew a beer that isn’t astringent.

Session beers allow beer drinkers to enjoy “a few” without becoming overly intoxicated. They are low-gravity, low-alcohol beers for extended drinking sessions. Brewers can  — and, of course, have — differed over exactly how low in alcohol a beer needs to be in order to qualify as a session beer. For the sake of this article, let’s say session beers are those under 4.5% ABV. (And outside of this article, feel free to apply your own definition.)

Just because these are “little” beers, however, doesn’t mean that they don’t require our full attention. One of the biggest potential problems when brewing a session beer is oversparging. With a smaller malt bill, collecting your full pre-boil wort volume may mean you’ve sparged past the point that tannins become much more soluble. Oversparging in this manner results in beer with an astringent mouthfeel. This is frequently described as the puckering, bitter-like feeling one experiences when drinking tea. [Read more…]

Session IPA

This is part of a continuing series on IPA variants. So far, I’ve tackled black IPAs/Cascadian dark ales, Belgian IPAs, and wheat IPAs. See also the article on rye IPA, by Denny Conn. In addition, I wrote a whole series of articles on “regular” American-style IPAs, along with American pale ales and double IPAs. 

 

Founders

Founders All Day IPA. Not quite an IPA, but is it just a pale ale? (Also, it’s a tasty beer, so does the name matter?)

Beers with “IPA” in their name tend to sell well and commercial brewers are keen to have those three letters on their labels. One style (or substyle) of beer that has emerged recently is session IPA. A session IPA supposedly combines the hoppiness of an IPA with the lower alcohol content of a session beer. Founders Brewing’s All Day IPA was one of the first entries in this category, and continues to be one of the best-known.

When session IPAs first arrived, they tended to get one of two reactions. Beer drinkers either said, “Awesome, now I can get more hoppy goodness, and not have to stop after a couple,” or, “Hey great idea, but I liked it better when it was called pale ale.”

[Read more…]