Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lagunitas - Daytime IPA Review

Unfortunately, I drank this at night, as you can see.

Brewery: Lagunitas (CA)
Style: IPA
ABV: 4.6%
Grade: B

I guess everyone has decided that "session IPAs" will be the next big subgenre of IPAs. I'm fine with getting a new IPA offshoot every year — black IPAs and white IPAs and Belgian IPAs and Brett IPAs are all fairly legit, to varying degrees — but the idea of a session IPA seems like a bit of a stretch. Isn't a session IPA the same as an extra-hoppy pale ale? Granted, that's a concept I can live with, even if it is partly marketing-driven. And I've always been a big fan of Lagunitas' hoppy beers, so when I saw this one over at The Hop, I felt obliged to give it a try.

I'm super glad that it's fall and not summer, but it's a shame I'm not drinking this beer while mowing a lawn. I don't personally have a lawn to mow, but you know — it's clearly what the beer was designed for. You could call this an India Pale Pilsner and I wouldn't question it. Not only does it pour like one, with a light straw-yellow body, but halfway through the mouthfeel it seems to morph into a pilsner, sliding down with a super-crisp, dry bite. The grainy, herbal finish is almost a totally different beer from the initial wave of hoppy citrus, pine and lemongrass. A dry, grassy character runs throughout and ties the beer together, blending with the fruitier lemongrass notes and the brisk finish, all further enforcing my impression that this should be drank with the smell of cut grass in the air — or at least while sitting on a porch.

Really, this "Fractional IPA" could pass as an upgraded version of many styles, but it works as a session IPA in that it marries hops and crisp malts quite nicely. It doesn't strike me as super hoppy, maybe because these aren't all your typical American IPA flavors at work; the hop balance sits somewhere between grassy and citrus, with fainter undertones of grapefruit, lemon, mango and orange. It's bright and refreshing and becomes a lot fruitier as it warms, but it's no California hop bomb either. Daytime has more of a Continental Europe vibe. So whatever it is, it's unique and well-executed, and definitely very sessionable.

Availability: 12 ounce bottles, sixpacks. Probably a seasonal or rotating brew, at the moment.

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