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Low Alcohol IPA?

masha bousha Jan 16, 2013 09:37 AM

I love the robust flavor of an IPA beer but most of them kick my butt (make me wasted, in 3 bottles).
Recently I discovered two beers that I'm loving that have the flavor of a nice IPA but I can enjoy more than 3 and still be standing (swaying a bit but standing).
Lagunitas Daytime IPA-this is (apparently) seasonal in the summer. I saw it disappear in my area (Connecticut) around October.
Otter Creek Hop Session-this is available year-round. It's described as part ale part IPA. It's way tasty and it has less than 5% ABV (as does the Lagunitas).

Does anyone know of others that fall into this boat?

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  1. JessKidden RE: masha bousha Jan 16, 2013 09:57 AM

    Founder's out of Michigan has an "All Day IPA" at 4.7%

    Looks like it's available from Spring to Fall. Don't know their distribution area (they have one of those annoying zipcode based "Find our Beer" pages, rather than a simple list of states w/distributors) but while we get Founder's here in NJ I've yet to see this beer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JessKidden
      SP1 RE: JessKidden Mar 12, 2013 09:50 AM

      Had some of the "All Day IPA" recently. I really like it, plenty of hop flavor. Actually it was hard to tell it was a sub 5% ale.

    2. l
      LStaff RE: masha bousha Jan 16, 2013 12:27 PM

      My beer prediction for 2013 is that this is the year that "Light IPA" term/style becomes known/used - and within 5-10 years will be the hottest style going.

      A local brewery here is claiming to be the first :


      It's going to get a lot more craftier up in here....

      1. r
        raclette RE: masha bousha Jan 16, 2013 12:39 PM

        Founder's All Day IPA. It's so delicious! We live in the Philadelphia area and the told us at the brew pub it should be available here in the Spring. Not sure if they meant the entire east coast. Hopefully! I like it much better than Lagunitas.

        1. masha bousha RE: masha bousha Jan 17, 2013 05:00 AM

          thanks for the replies!! Super helpful and I too hope that 2013 will be the year of the light IPA. That would be fantastic!!

          1. MVNYC RE: masha bousha Jan 17, 2013 11:29 AM

            Boulder makes a beer called Hazed and Infused. It is not technically an IPA but provides a nice hop kick in my opinion


            2 Replies
            1. re: MVNYC
              mikey_vee RE: MVNYC Jan 17, 2013 12:00 PM

              I've been on the lookout for a beer like this for years. Seems like American microbrewers for the last decade has been all about making the biggest, baddest, highest alc beer possible without taking into account "drinkability".

              For a clean, hoppy, full flavored beer that's <6% ABV, consider one of the newer pales to hit the market. One that I really like is Pale 31 (4.9% abv) by Firestone Walker. Impossible to find but fantastic is the Row 2, Hill 56 by Russian River. Looks like you can get Lagunitas in your area. If so, Poleeko Gold is another good one.

              1. re: mikey_vee
                LStaff RE: mikey_vee Jan 18, 2013 07:36 AM

                Victory Headwaters is also in that hoppy pale ale vein. Use of Citra gives it a new twist.

            2. e
              eethan RE: masha bousha Jan 17, 2013 03:55 PM

              I have something of a chip on my shoulder: low-alcohol IPAs seem a bit silly to me. Typically I enjoy IPAs for the intensity of aroma and flavour, in which case I don't really care to drink more than about 24 oz. at a time. In fact, I think I stop paying attention to the taste of something after about 10 or 12 oz. The idea seems about as odd to me as wishing for a 5%ABV whisky.

              Of course I don't mean to judge; I suppose individual preference is always---and by nature---a personal thing.

              Still: why don't I hear anyone asking after low-alcohol stouts, or the like? (Or am I simply not listening?)

              6 Replies
              1. re: eethan
                Jim Dorsch RE: eethan Jan 17, 2013 04:43 PM

                You can already get low-alcohol stouts, such as milk stouts and dry stouts, for example.

                1. re: Jim Dorsch
                  eethan RE: Jim Dorsch Jan 17, 2013 04:55 PM

                  I suppose I should have educated myself about stout styles before using stout as an example. (I also suppose I should have made the connection about the significance of 'milk' in 'milk stout')

                  But the point I was trying to make was pairing low alcohol with strong flavours---so how about 'light' barley wines? Foot in my mouth again?

                  1. re: eethan
                    Jim Dorsch RE: eethan Jan 17, 2013 05:55 PM

                    Point well taken. It appears that the difference is that you are satisfied with one or two beers while others want to enjoy a few more. So you just don't have the issue others have, hence it makes little sense to you. That's reasonable.

                    I do think a person stands more chance of success making a lower-alcohol IPA-style beer that's still flavorful and hoppy, as opposed to making a barley wine with similar restrictions. I don't think a person would see a lot of success at the latter pursuit, while the former offers some possibilities.

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch
                      LStaff RE: Jim Dorsch Jan 18, 2013 07:16 AM

                      I consider Sierra Nevada Celebration to be a "light barleywine".

                      1. re: LStaff
                        eethan RE: LStaff Jan 18, 2013 09:50 AM

                        It's not high-alcohol, but I wouldn't say SN Celebration is low-ABV. And doesn't the style change a bit year-to-year? (I've had it a few times, but not regularly.)

                        Anyway, I imagine I stand alone on this issue. Oh well---first world problem, I suppose.

                        1. re: eethan
                          The Professor RE: eethan Jan 18, 2013 03:54 PM

                          Celebration uses the same recipe every year. Any perceived differences year to year are simply from the year to year differences in the barley & hop crops.

              2. n
                niquejim RE: masha bousha Jan 17, 2013 06:36 PM

                So you want the American version of an English bitter, good luck selling that to America. If people really wanted that we'd have cask beer at every bar...I'm still waiting to find it at one.
                Also we have a White IPA, Black IPA and now we want a Lite IPA

                7 Replies
                1. re: niquejim
                  Jim Dorsch RE: niquejim Jan 18, 2013 04:04 AM

                  I don't know how you jumped from low-alcohol IPA to English bitter to cask beer. (I can buy that last item any day of the week a couple of miles from my house, by the way.) I don't see how the desire for a low-alcohol IPA implies that people really want cask ale.

                  What the OP wants is already becoming available in the US, and will probably become easier to find in the coming years. Perhaps it has an identity problem, but the term should make it easier to sell such a beer, and it gives a person an idea of what to expect. The same is true of the other terms you mention, white IPA and black IPA.

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch
                    LStaff RE: Jim Dorsch Jan 18, 2013 07:34 AM

                    I think craft brewers are going to very hesitent to use the Light IPA naming convention at first - untill sales start to skyrocket for those willing to use it. You will know it is successful when Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, and/or New Belgium start to use it.

                    >...and it gives a person an idea of what to expect. The same is true of the other terms you mention, white IPA and black IPA.

                    Although Black IPA is an oxymoron in terms, I thought it was appropriate as it told the consumer what to expect - a hoppy dark beer - back in the day we just called it hoppy porter :-). But the White IPA "style" seems to be all over the place - is it made with a belgian yeast? does it include classic witbier spices like coriander, orange etc.?

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch
                      niquejim RE: Jim Dorsch Jan 18, 2013 06:41 PM

                      I was attempting to say that a light IPA is a misnomer and should be labeled as a Pale Ale, which is what it is. Is not cask ale a hoppy flavourful low alcohol beer? If light IPA becomes a style it will make the "Black" India "PALE Ale" seem like a normal name

                      1. re: niquejim
                        Jim Dorsch RE: niquejim Jan 18, 2013 09:03 PM

                        I understand what you're saying about the name, but brewers are going to gravitate toward the 'light IPA' terminology because that's going to help them sell beer. It's actually sort of useful because not all pale ales are hoppy, and this makes that distinction.

                        A cask ale might be hoppy and low in alcohol, or it might not. The cask implies a method of treatment and dispense, not the parameters of its contents. So your assertion is incorrect.

                        I understand that the names of some of these new IPAs don't make sense, but it's not a big deal to me.

                    2. re: niquejim
                      LStaff RE: niquejim Jan 18, 2013 07:22 AM

                      That's funny, I almost included my thoughts that this type of beer is just an ramped up english bitter. We took their IPA style and toned down the maltiness, and ramped up the abv and hop character and now are doing the same with their bitter style, but the word bitter does not sell, so craft brewers have been trying to avoid it. IPA is the hottest craft style going today and Light beer is the largest selling macro style so using the designation of Light IPA may just be the perfect storm that gets support from those who drink from both sides of the isle.

                      My prediction for last year was that the IPA style was going to expand to every range of color as an adjective and was going to see herbs/spices/fruit added. I wasn't far off.

                      1. re: LStaff
                        Jim Dorsch RE: LStaff Jan 18, 2013 08:55 AM

                        But bitter covers a larger part of the map as regards bitterness, particularly depending on where in the country it's made.

                        I don't know if the 'light' part will sell well, given its association with other types of beer, but the IPA part certainly will attract attention. Lagunitas called their seasonal a fractional IPA. I think some word along those lines, and not 'light', will be the other part of the name.

                      2. re: niquejim
                        Idyllwild RE: niquejim Jan 18, 2013 10:10 AM

                        I can find cask beer in any large and many mid-sized cities in the U.S. 30th Street in San Diego has at least four casks tapped within walking distance of each other almost every evening.

                      3. crowdingthepan RE: masha bousha Jan 18, 2013 02:49 PM

                        If you can find Stone Levitation, it might hit the spot for ya'.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: crowdingthepan
                          Jim Dorsch RE: crowdingthepan Jan 18, 2013 09:04 PM

                          I agree, great beer.

                        2. t
                          TombstoneShadow RE: masha bousha Jan 18, 2013 10:53 PM

                          "but most of them kick my butt in 3 bottles"...

                          with any great imperial IPA, that's a fact ! (although you might not notice it til the next morning). Personally I like the big-structured IPA's so much that I'll trade off volume for quality (and ETOH content).

                          What about Goose Island's basic IPA, that's around 6% or so isn't it? Not great, but definitely drinkable... although I'm not sure of anything from them since the company was sold.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: TombstoneShadow
                            TombstoneShadow RE: TombstoneShadow Jan 20, 2013 09:30 PM

                            Just came across a bottle of Goose Island basic IPA: 5.9% abv.

                            1. re: TombstoneShadow
                              Jim Dorsch RE: TombstoneShadow Jan 21, 2013 12:03 AM

                              Same abv as Devils Backbone Eight Point IPA from around Charlottesville, VA.

                              I'm guessing here, but expect that was true of a lots of American IPAs 20 years ago. I was there, but can't remember ... BA shows Grant's IPA at 4.2 abv, which frankly seems lower than I recall, but I don't recall things all that well.

                          2. JessKidden RE: masha bousha Jan 19, 2013 06:05 AM

                            The best selling packaged "IPA" in the UK -the home of India Pale Ale, after all - is Greene King IPA, at 3.2% abv.

                            They also make an IPA Gold at 4.1% and IPA Reserve at 5.4%.


                            23 Replies
                            1. re: JessKidden
                              niquejim RE: JessKidden Jan 19, 2013 04:48 PM

                              And it's not called lite. That just shows that the Brits know what they're doing with beer and that we are good at gimmicky marketing

                              1. re: niquejim
                                Jim Dorsch RE: niquejim Jan 19, 2013 05:36 PM

                                I expect these beers are low in alcohol due to the nature of their beer tax, so rather than being light versions of a particular style, basically all beers are low in alcohol.

                                1. re: Jim Dorsch
                                  ThomasvanDale RE: Jim Dorsch May 27, 2014 06:33 AM

                                  Your expectation is incorrect. British beer is not taxed on alcohol. Historically, it is taxed on OG (original gravity). And not all British beers are low in alcohol, though I expect that many are lower than in the US.

                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale
                                    Jim Dorsch RE: ThomasvanDale May 27, 2014 02:28 PM

                                    I spoke incorrectly when saying they're all low in alcohol. Of course that's not true.

                                    I believe the tax changed to an alcohol basis a number of years ago, although it was based on OG for a long time.

                                    Here is the current tax, which just took effect in March: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/alcohol-...

                                2. re: niquejim
                                  Josh RE: niquejim Jan 19, 2013 11:53 PM

                                  Considering how influential American craft beer has been on younger UK brewers I think you'll find that your opinion here belongs in the category of "get off my lawn".

                                  1. re: Josh
                                    Tripeler RE: Josh Jan 20, 2013 12:03 AM

                                    +1 for what Josh says. American craft beer has influenced beer not just in the UK, but in Denmark, Norway, Holland and Belgium as well.

                                    1. re: Tripeler
                                      Josh RE: Tripeler Jan 20, 2013 12:37 AM

                                      Not to mention Mexico, Japan, Italy, and even Germany.

                                    2. re: Josh
                                      Insidious Rex RE: Josh Jan 22, 2013 10:35 AM

                                      Doesnt mean we still arent better at "gimmicky marketing" then the Brits (and the rest of Europe quite frankly). Theres no chance they rename their old style IPA's "IPA Lite" just because they are now being influenced by american brewers to make bigger/hoppier beers. But because the term "lite" is potentially valuable when in combination with any beer expect to see more of it here. I could live with "Session IPA". That way I know what to expect which is a hoppy ale of some sort. Once you throw in lite in conjunction with "India Pale Ale" I get confused if they mean lite in alcohol or light in hops or both or light in color or what. Session clears that up I think. But I dont expect that to catch on.

                                      1. re: Insidious Rex
                                        Jim Dorsch RE: Insidious Rex Jan 22, 2013 11:26 AM

                                        Only one brewery will be using the term "Lite" because it's owned by MillerCoors.

                                        I think session beers will slowly become more popular. Just look at what's going on at Lew Bryson's Session Beer Project.


                                        I doubt you'll see many full-strength British IPAs in wide distribution because it costs too much in tax.

                                        1. re: Insidious Rex
                                          JAB RE: Insidious Rex Jan 22, 2013 12:06 PM

                                          Agreed, as lite / light conjurs up low calorie in my mind.

                                          1. re: JAB
                                            LStaff RE: JAB Jan 23, 2013 08:50 AM

                                            Which they would be in comparison to IPA's in the 6-8% abv range.

                                          2. re: Insidious Rex
                                            LStaff RE: Insidious Rex Jan 23, 2013 08:49 AM

                                            Outside the beer geek realm, no one knows what session means and even beer geeks can't agree on it.

                                          3. re: Josh
                                            niquejim RE: Josh Jan 24, 2013 06:41 PM

                                            I was making a joke that everyone took seriously, so I might as well keep going.
                                            So we want the American craft brew industry to do to IPA's what American brewers have done to Pilsners
                                            A small, light IPA is a Pale Ale(if you wish a hoppy Pale Ale) and labelling it as anything else is just gimmicky marketing

                                            1. re: niquejim
                                              Jim Dorsch RE: niquejim Jan 25, 2013 06:29 AM

                                              It's not that I want them to do it, but I think they will, and I think they will be right to do so, for marketing reasons.

                                              I don't think that over time they'll turn IPA into a meaningless term whose default is a boring beer.

                                              Companies have always played with words to help sell products. I don't see that changing, and as long as I understand what they're doing, I have no problem with it.

                                              Incidentally, last time the Craft Brewers Conference was in San Diego (which may have been last year; I can never remember this stuff), the conference beer was a "San Diego Pale Ale" that was around 10% abv if I recall. Some pale ale. I wonder what these guys consider an India ale?

                                              1. re: Jim Dorsch
                                                Insidious Rex RE: Jim Dorsch Jan 25, 2013 10:36 AM

                                                Indeed. I always site Three Floyds Alpha King, which was THE measure by which all "hoppy" beers were judged for so many years (the hoppiest beer in America contest was named The Alpha King Challenge after all), which they insisted on calling a "Pale Ale" which was just hysterical back in 2000 and which I think has now been redefined by the BJCP people as an "American Pale Ale" which is I guess a little more accurate although Im not sure whats the difference between an APA and a straight forward IPA. Lots of APA's have IBU levels above lots of IPA's.

                                              2. re: niquejim
                                                Josh RE: niquejim Jan 25, 2013 06:52 AM

                                                You seem to be ignoring any counter arguments, so what's the point in making any?

                                                1. re: Josh
                                                  niquejim RE: Josh Jan 29, 2013 05:41 AM

                                                  Because the counter arguments are just semantics. Kind of like "get on the plane" instead of "get in".
                                                  A light IPA is a Pale Ale no matter how everyone likes to spin it

                                                  1. re: niquejim
                                                    Jim Dorsch RE: niquejim Jan 29, 2013 06:40 AM

                                                    One might not like the term, but 'light IPA' conveys more information than 'pale ale'.

                                                    1. re: niquejim
                                                      Josh RE: niquejim Jan 29, 2013 07:31 AM

                                                      You are the one arguing semantics here.

                                                      1. re: Josh
                                                        niquejim RE: Josh Jan 29, 2013 06:46 PM

                                                        Yes I am because Light IPA (in a place where tax laws(at least yet) don't penalize a beer because of strength) lessens the term more than I wish it to ever be diminished

                                                        1. re: niquejim
                                                          Josh RE: niquejim Jan 29, 2013 08:13 PM

                                                          Well, as I said, the breweries I know that brewed such a beer called it a "Session IPA", not "Light".

                                                          A rose by any other name, right?

                                                  2. re: niquejim
                                                    LStaff RE: niquejim Jan 25, 2013 07:35 AM

                                                    Yes, I want more uber hoppy pale ales - and I want more people to buy them so they have a chance of staying fresh. I don't care what they call them, and I don't care what side of the aisle people who buy them come from.

                                                    1. re: LStaff
                                                      TombstoneShadow RE: LStaff Jan 27, 2013 09:21 PM

                                                      The PA and IPA categories have become so blurred in the microbrew world over the past 10-15 years... now we have everything from moderate traditional styles to "imperial" IPA monsters... Got to the point I don't pay much attention to the terms anymore, just have to know the characteristics of each beer itself really.

                                            2. masha bousha RE: masha bousha Jan 23, 2013 09:06 AM

                                              FYI, I never called it light. It's not about calories to me it's about lower alcohol.

                                              To everyone: thanks so much for the replies on this thread. My list of beers to try (or to find) is long.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: masha bousha
                                                danna RE: masha bousha Feb 4, 2013 01:20 PM

                                                Not sure how hard this would be to find out of area, but Pisgah Pale comes in at 5.5 or 6.0 (i've seen both listed) and is pretty delicious, IMHO. http://pisgahbrewing.com/beer/year-round

                                              2. r
                                                raclette RE: masha bousha Mar 12, 2013 03:00 PM

                                                Founder's All Day IPA has arrived in PA. At least in Philadelphia!

                                                1. m
                                                  mozzer1152 RE: masha bousha May 26, 2014 04:09 PM

                                                  Terrapin recreationale and founders all day ipa are 2 of my favs.. they both come in around 5% and 140-150 calories

                                                  1. t
                                                    tomjb27 RE: masha bousha May 29, 2014 09:17 AM

                                                    I recently tried the Stone Go To IPA, which is 4.5%. Very impressive. If you're looking for that big hit of citrus and pine hops on the nose, this is one to seek out.

                                                    1. Chinon00 RE: masha bousha Jun 12, 2014 04:58 AM

                                                      "Easy Jack" from Firestone Walker is a really nice "session IPA". Balanced very flavorful and 4.5% abv.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                                        Tripeler RE: Chinon00 Jun 12, 2014 07:26 AM

                                                        I am really pretty skeptical about a low-alcohol IPA, but I do know that Firestone Walker makes some stunningly great beers, so this one is certainly on my must-try list. Thanks for the tip!

                                                        1. re: Tripeler
                                                          MVNYC RE: Tripeler Jun 12, 2014 07:56 AM

                                                          Founder's All Day IPA is killer. I don't know if that makes it over to you but give it a shot if you see it.

                                                          1. re: MVNYC
                                                            Silverjay RE: MVNYC Jun 12, 2014 08:22 AM

                                                            Add me to the Founder's All Day IPA fan list! It is really good.

                                                            1. re: MVNYC
                                                              RB Hound RE: MVNYC Jun 12, 2014 03:03 PM

                                                              There are rumors that Founders will get a southern California distribution (much like Bell's just did) in the not too far future. I'll believe it when I see it, but as of now they are only here in rare occasions.

                                                              They were at the Firestone Walker festival last year (and maybe this year), and I heard from a lot of people that were there that their All Day IPA was spot on.

                                                        2. m
                                                          meeps2002 RE: masha bousha Jul 8, 2014 09:01 AM

                                                          Founder's All Day IPA
                                                          Notch's Left of the Dial
                                                          Evil Twin Bikini Beer

                                                          those are 3 I would recommend

                                                          1. c
                                                            coyotemrh RE: masha bousha Jul 14, 2014 03:00 PM

                                                            U are so correct. I drink only IPA, convinced some have LTD. In search for great taste, low alcohol IPA, ordering now Lagnitas.

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