WTF is a Session IPA? | House Hippo

By: Naomi Kerchinsky

As the house hippo commercial taught us back in 1999, we humans can be swayed to believe any news is real news, especially if it includes a cute hippo innocently searching for food, water, and materials for its nest. We have a responsibility to make sure something’s true before we share it online, and to push readers to ask questions. So WTF is a Session IPA? Is it a real thing? The truth is, it’s more of a marketing term than a beer style, because IPA’s sell really well. A Session IPA is really an extra-hoppy pale ale, but here is the silver-lining: this beer reminds you it doesn’t have to be big, bold, and super complex – it just has to be good. And our newest release, House Hippo Session IPA, has that, “Oh, dude!” flat-buying kind of goodness.

House Hippo Session IPA

Citrus, Herbal, Smooth & Easy

The first sniff of this deep golden beer is delightfully dank with notes of orange and grapefruit followed by a spicy herbal character from the Simcoe Amarillo hops. The flavour is similar with a nice quality bitterness and hop spiciness. The mash bill of 2-row, honey malt, flake oats, and Red Shed Kananaskis balances the bitterness. It is smooth and easy to drink, and will have you reaching for another sip almost before the first one is gone.

Fun Fact: This was named by Assistant Brewer Kim after reminiscing on zoo trips and being most surprised by two-story-tall giraffes and hippos, because the only other hippo she had seen was the house hippo…hey now, wouldn’t house hippo make a great beer name?

Is Session IPA an oxymoron?

Culturally, sessionable beer comes from the British tradition of sitting down for a long chat with good friends over a few drinks. A session beer is something you can comfortably drink a few pints of and still carry on a conversation. Sessions are quality beers with lower ABVs. Historically, Monks would brew sessions for visitors, as a session was an easy beer to host company, have good conversation, and not get too drunk on. During the First World War, this type of beer was popular for factory-working civilians, who were only allowed to drink beer in “sessions” from noon to 2:40 pm and from 6:30 to half-past ten at night. In order for them to still make quality war armaments, these beers were lower in ABV to ensure the workers would remain fit for work.

Now think about sessions in contrast to the craft beer-loving darling IPAs that are known for being hop-forward, fruity, and boasting ABVs of 6% or higher. An IPA is not the type of beer you can drink in large quantities whilst remaining placid. So, is it possible for something to have both sessionable and IPA characteristics? 

We have already made clear that a Session IPA is more of a marketing term than a true beer style, but the concept and flavour depth of the beer does allow both session and IPA characteristics to shine. It is more of a merger than it is an oxymoron. What you get with a Session IPA is a beer with quality bitterness, herbal hop character, and fruity notes. It is balanced and flavourful enough to be exciting, but its flavour profile is a bit less complex than an IPA, and boasts a lower ABV so you can easily & responsibly knock back a few. 

If you are looking for something to stock up on for the holidays, let House Hippo build a mighty fine nest in your beer fridge.

Brought to you by Concerned Craft Brewers

It’s nighttime in a taproom just like ours. All is quiet, or is it? The Central Albertan House Hippo is found throughout Red Deer and surrounding Alberta cities. House Hippos build their nests in refrigerators using hops, malt, and yeast. The nests have to be comfortable and cool since House Hippos taste best chilled.