THE SESSION IPAS ARE COMING! If you haven’t heard yet, the session IPA is going to be a very popular style this year and to start off this onslaught I figured we’d start with a new contender in the LA beer scene, Pizza Port Brewing Company Ponto SIPA.
Let’s start with a quick primer on what exactly a session IPA is. A sessionable beer is one that falls below 5% ABV, features a balance between malt and hop characters, and has a clean finish. The purpose of these beers are to allow the drinker to enjoy several of them during a reasonable time period, or session, without blowing out the palate or getting too intoxicated. So a session IPA, or India session ale as some like to call them, would be an IPA that falls within those criteria. This turns out to be rather challenging, as Mitch Steele of Stone put it “The brewers challenge here is twofold: first is achieving a good flavor balance in a beer that is so low in alcohol that there isn’t much else to balance the hop character with, and second, ensuring that the dry hop character doesn’t become overly vegetal, due to the lower alcohol content of the beer.”
Pizza Port is not a new player in the craft beer scene, having operated several restaurants and brewpubs under the same name for more than 20 years. They were also where Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey spun off from in 2006. But if you wanted one of their beers, you’d have to head to one of their locations in the greater San Diego area. This changed in January 2014 with the release of their first 3 canned beers (as well as some limited draft distribution). Ponto SIPA is actually the evolution of one of their older brews, Ponto pale ale, but at some point it was reclassified as a session IPA. Named for a popular surfing spot near Carlsbad, Pizza Port envisions this brew being the fermented personification of this beloved beach.
The beer pours a clear golden-yellow with a decent amount of foamy white head. The aroma has some big hop notes, mainly in the citrus and tropical fruit ranges that open up to some resinous pine as it warms up, with the slightest hint of bready malt. The body is pretty light with an average amount of carbonation. The flavor teases with a quick glimpse of mild bready malt that is quickly overtaken by waves of lemon and grapefruit rind hoppiness that wraps up with a clean resinous pine. The finish is dry, but in a very refreshing way, with a lingering bitter piney hop and a pinch of sweet bready malt to even things out.
|Brewery||Pizza Port Brewing Company|
|Availability||Can and draft release|
|Rating||4 out of 5|
Overall this beer represents a great opening effort for Pizza Port and a great example of the style. At about $10 for a six pack of sixteen ounce cans, it comes out to be a great deal. Pizza Port chose to can their beers to make them a good choice for those who like outdoors activities and I could see this beer fitting that bill very well. I’d recommend picking one of these up to anyone whose a fan of hops, because it definitely delivers a big hop punch but it’s low enough ABV that you’ll be able to enjoy a few. Who knows, this might just become your go to session IPA.