Sunday, April 1, 2012

Founders All Day IPA

Pathetic.  That's how I would describe the last month of posting for me.  And please resist the temptation to fight me on this one.  All scorn for my silence is deserved, as our loyal readers (all 12 of you - thanks, dad) have continually visited us despite my inept posting efforts.  At least Shaun's pulling his weight a bit, and in grand style, weighing in a couple of times on Pliny the Younger.  In posting terms, that counts for double.  It's almost metaphoric to have the near-mythical Pliny, with its celebrated day-a-year release, as our last beer of of record for March.  In many people's opinion Pliny is the final word on beer.  Since I can't provide a post that trumps a beer of such immense stature and cult-like worship, I'll resume things in small fashion, with a beer for the common man, the non-aficionado, the everyday drinker:  Founders All Day IPA.

I first tried this beer in 2011 and dismissed it.  It's a thin, 4.7% IPA that, so I thought, lacks the complexity of Founders other hoppy offerings, such as Double Trouble, Red's Rye, and even Centennial IPA.  Recently, a bar owner whose favorite IPA right now is Firestone's Double Jack, a love child of grapefruit and beer, told me that one of the best experiences he's ever had drinking a beer is getting a glass of fresh Centennial.  As the hop aroma arrests your senses as does freshly felled pine, you forget that it's boiled in Michigan.  So, there I was, resolute in my grumblings over All Day.  My thought was, how could Founders make such an average, ordinary beer designed simply to facilitate sessioning?  I had missed the point.

This year, revisiting All Day at McGee's Pub on Webster Avenue, which has morphed from a post-college bar with Miller Lite referee girls serving jello shots into a venerable craft beer joint (with one of the coolest, old school tile floors this side of the Gage Pub),  I quickly realized how badly I had whiffed on this beer and how bald were my earlier assessments, some of which were, sadly, in print to forever torment.  Sure, All Day is not an uber-complex, 8% double IPA with monstrous hops and a hefty malt profile, a style that I readily embrace.  Its attack is far more subtle and untrained palates will overlook its complexity.  And that's the point. On my part, this was a rookie mistake.

All Day has a low density and finishes light, more pale ale-like than IPA.  Cleverly, Founders disguises the beer's perceived frailty with immense dry hopping.  My guess would be that high alpha hops are used in this process, given the beer's low aroma but intense moment of acidity.   And that's what makes All Day special, that bite. It distracts the drinker from what would otherwise be an ordinary pale ale session. Or, I should say that it elevates the experience.  To wit, this is not some watery beer with flavor additive designed to trick your palate into thinking it's good.  All Day is a seriously good beer cleverly wrapped in the superficial markings of a low grade hoppy brew - low ABV, thin mouthfeel.

After a few sips of this you realize what you are getting: a beer with a hint of pine aroma, a consistently rewarding bite, a sharp finish, and a refreshing, not a filling aftermath.  Unlike its hoppier cousins, if you have two of these, which I did, you never feel as if headed underwater.  In brewing, matching sessionability with quality takes great ingenuity, and in this regard, Founders has nailed it.  I need to get back to writing on the chalkboard, "I will not doubt Founders. I will not .  .  "

4 of 5 stars.

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