Session IPA

Fundamentals #36 — Magic Rock Saucery Session IPA

I am yet to be convinced that both gluten and alcohol-free beers are as good as the real thing. One of the main reasons behind this is that I think that there are plenty of other delicious alternatives to beer within these categories. Be it low-intervention cider, or natural wine, kombucha or craft soda, there’s plenty of choice out there. But I understand why gluten and alcohol-free beers need to exist – because people love beer.

And they are getting better, for the most part. It is perhaps unfair to me to split hairs within these styles, especially as my privilege allows me to enjoy both alcohol and gluten. I tend to struggle when someone tells me that a low alcohol or GF beer is “as good as the real thing” when quite clearly it isn’t. I prefer to see such products sold on their own merits, instead of being compared to something that they are not.

Which is why this beer – Saucery from Magic Rock – took me by complete surprise. I have, in fact, been enjoying this beer whenever I see it on tap for several months. It’s an excellent, light, yet hop forward session IPA. Bursting with notes of citrus, a gentle bitterness at the back of the palate and a dry finish that leaves you rasping for your next sip, or pint. It’s a great beer.

I had no idea that it was gluten free until I received this can to review.

Magic Rock has previous when it comes to making excellent gluten free beers. Its special edition gluten free IPA, Fantasma, proved so popular that it has since become part of its core range. This is excellent news, because despite my own misgivings about GF beers, the more choice out there the better, especially when it’s of this quality. I concede, however, that not everyone wants to drink 6.5% IPA all the time (although personally, I’d be happy to.) At a far lower 3.9% ABV, Saucery makes it accessible to a far larger demographic, and that can only be a good thing.

As I continue to sip at this particular can, I become more impressed with every satisfying gulp. If you’re looking for a tasty gluten free beer then this certainly is one. But if you are just looking for a tasty beer, this also is most definitely one. Saucery, indeed.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a Magic Rock Saucery Session IPA in-store or online.

#HBBAdvent Beer 14: Magic Rock x Modern Times Timequake Session IPA (Huddersfield)

Magic Rock says: A collaboration with San Diego brew wizards Modern Times, Andrew and Luke joined up with us a few weeks back to create a super sessionable modern style IPA. With this recipe we went heavy on the Rye malt to add body/flavour allied to low bitterness and a high finishing gravity to balance things out. As you might expect this was joined by some very generous hop dosing both in whirlpool and dry hop, using lots of good hops (none of the bad ones) to create this super crushable 4.5% session IPA with a deep hop flavour and spicy finish.

We say: Timequake is the session IPA all other session IPAs aspire to be. So much flavour for 4.5%. A Thursday beer to get you excited for the weekend. - Jen

#HBBAdvent Beer 5: Whiplash Rollover Session IPA (Ireland)

Whiplash says: Same hop rate as our DIPA’s, less than half the alcohol. A very heavily hopped Session IPA: this comes at you with buckets of Simcoe, Ekuanot, Citra and Mosaic hops with a light touch of malts and an easy crushable body. Unfiltered, hazy, hoppy and juicy – Rollover is a New England inspired IPA without the heavy alcohol in tow.

We say: Now that’s what I call a Session IPA! I was blown away by the Whiplash range and Rollover was certainly one of the finest. Excellent new brewery from County Kildare, Ireland, making no-compromise juicy beers. This session beer features all that you expect from its New England inspiration: low ABV, light body and the ‘low-bitterness-smooth-juiciness’ that keeps giving. The smashability keeps bringing me back to a warm resort... I want more! - Joris

#HBBAdvent Beer 4: Amundsen x Devil's Peak Chuggernaut New England Session IPA* (Finchamstead)

Amundsen says: On a recent exploration trip to the southern most tip of Africa we met up with the like-minded guys at Devil's Peak Brewing Co, and immediately decided to make a beer together. Chuggernaut is a reincarnation of both our flagship beers moulded into one, so chuggable it will blow your mind with a total hop overload, tropical, juicy and hazy. Chuggernaut pairs best with sun, shades and lazy days.

We say: Good luck to anyone finding some sun to pair this with! No matter, this little hazemaker brings the sunshine. Amundsen packs in a shedload of big tropical flavours into a easy-drinking, Monday-friendly 4.7%. - Jen

* NB: Some boxes feature the equally excellent Amundsen x Dugges Hop Magic IPA.

Matthew Curtis's No More Heroes XII – Signature Brew Roadie Session IPA

Way back before I started to write about beer I used to play guitar in a pretty cool band called Brontosaurus Chorus. It was a lot of fun, we were even quite good, and you can still listen to our recorded efforts on Spotify.

The best part about being in a band was playing live. For 30 minutes you could transport yourself away from the stage in the dingy venue you were playing, to a world of fuzzy guitar solos and cavernous reverb. The worst part was carrying your heavy gear to every gig and every rehearsal. Schlepping a guitar, amp and a bag full of pedals on London’s public transport system is a long way from the fun of actually playing them.

My guitar rarely leaves the house these days, but my backpack is often clinking with the sound of several beer bottles. The sudden increase in the popularity of the beer can has been a boon. In fact I often find myself choosing cans simply because I can fit more in my bag and they’re a hell of a lot lighter.

Signature Brew, who brew in Leyton, North-East London, are one of the latest breweries to switch their packaging over to cans. The aptly named Roadie is the perfect beer for this format: a session IPA light on alcohol but packed with flavour. What stood out for me about this beer is that, unlike many session IPAs, it isn’t dominated by bitter, unbalanced, citrus flavours. There’s plenty of sweetness that reminds me of the barley sugar sweets I used to suck as a kid. This is followed by plenty of the pithy lemon and grapefruit notes you usually find in a beer like this but the sweetness smooths out the peaks, making this a really enjoyable beer.

Cans are like the beer drinker's own personal roadie, making getting them from place to place that much easier. Next time you find yourself crushing a can of beer at a gig, spare a thought for the poor sods on stage that have to carry all their gear home later on.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. 

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 2: Gipsy Hill Hepcat Session IPA, 4.6% (SE London)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Gipsy Hill Brewing says: "Hepcat is in the know. A session IPA with big fruit, juicy note and a light, jazzy malt body. Liberal kicks."

We say: Gipsy Hill’s aim is to produce lower-ABV beers that don’t skimp on flavour. We’ve been big fans since we opened - so much so that they’re our house pour on flagon-fill. For such a young brewery they’re remarkably consistent, and we reckon their Hepcat is the best of the bunch. Fragrant on the nose with great balance, this is a solid session that never fails to deliver. At 4.6%, it’s a perfect Wednesday beer.