Originally Posted by Denny
The words "session IPA" are as much of an abomination as "imperial mild".
Except, I LOVE hops. American IPAs are my favorite style, and I buy them 90% of the time even when I meant to try something else. Hops get in your blood, and you can't get enough.
At my size, ONE 7% beer is more than I should enjoy in an evening and still be functional. So I want something quaffable where I can drink 3-4 and not be a stumbling mess. A "session" IPA has been my holy grail since I started brewing.
Founders recently came out with All-day IPA, so I'm sure that I'm not the only one who wants BIG hops and BIG flavor, but in a 5% beer. (or less).
I've come close a couple of times, similar to 21st Amendment's Bitter American, but not quite nailed what I wanted.
I'm way from my home computer right now, so away from my recipes, but a couple of things that are key, in my opinion:
Hopsbursting is a big bonus for lower ABV hoppy beers. It uses more hops, but it really gives the depth of hops flavor I'm looking for. Even a small bittering charge is ok, but with plenty of late hops, and that gives a depth of hops flavor I love.
Munich malt and Vienna malt are great for giving some malt backbone without being too much.
I would not overuse crystal malt, and instead add some intense malt flavor/aroma like with aromatic malt. A few ounces of aromatic malt can enhance the perception of malt backbone unlike anything else.
Another "go to" malt in a session IPA has been victory malt. Unlike crystal malt, it doesn't sweeten the beer but provides malt depth with its toasty/biscuit flavor and aroma. You don't need much at all, maybe 4 ounces in a 5 gallon batch, but it really deepens the malt.