Session India Pale Ale Debate


India pale ales or “IPA” are a winter regular in our fridge. We are mostly drinking strong and high alcohol beers during the cold weather like stouts and porters, however an IPA reminds us most of a Christmas tree (Why wouldn’t you drink it during Christmas). IPAs come in a variety of styles, however, we are focusing our IPA debate on beers that are 5% ABV or less or “Session ales”. To put that in perspective, porters are in the 8-10% range and a Bud Light is 4%. These are perfect for day drinking or a beer with flavor without getting you drunk after a pint. Our favorite IPAs are All Day IPA by Founders Brewery and Sidekick Extra Pale Ale by Two Brothers Brewing Company. We decided to take our two favorites and put them up against the highly regarded Bitter American by 21st Amendment Brewery. Trying these three great beers side by side, we are not looking for the best (That’s impossible), but we are hoping your beer geek friends will give you a bit of cred when you order them.

To get this debate started, the three beers are from Illinois (Sidekick), Michigan (Founders), and California (21st Amendment), they are all 5% ABV or under, heavily hopped, and mostly in cans.


Appearance: Bitter American and All Day IPA have a slightly darker amber color, but these session ales are meant to make us think we can drink 5-10, therefore the Sidekick wins. It has a lighter color with a healthy head that is light and not intrusive.


Aroma: All of these session ales are hop forward (Think of a bitter and sweet flower). Bitter American and Sidekick are bitter, caramel with a hint of ginger and less floral while the All Day IPA has a sweet flower smell. The All Day IPA wins the smell test as we are getting tons of flavor with a light body.


Taste: They all are great or we would not feature them, however, the Bitter American and Sidekick have caramel with a gingerbread flavor and the All Day IPA has a bitter spicy gingerness. All beers keep their flavor during cold and warm conditions.

Overall: The Sidekick is slightly more bitter and less caramel-like than the Bitter American. The All Day IPA is more floral and light. The bottom line is we would drink them all 24/7. The Bitter American and the Sidekick have the most body and bitter flavors, while the All Day IPA is much easier drinking and lighter in body.

Source: Founders, Two Brothers Brewing Company, 21st Amendment

(Image credits: Bruce Leong/Dapper Guide)