Founders All Day IPA

April 02 2012 - 10:16 AM

I first tried this beer in 2011 and foolishly 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 you like freshly felled pine, you forget that it’s boiled in Michigan.  So, there I was, resolute in my All Day grumblings.  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 bad 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 causing untrained palates to overlook its complexity.  And that’s the point.  Chalk up my doubt to rookie mistakes.

All Day has a low density and finishes light, more pale ale-like than IPA.  Founders cleverly disguises the beer’s perceived frailty with immense dry hopping.  This suggests high alpha hops, above 10% acid, are used in this process, given the beer’s low aroma but intense acidic pulse.   It’s that bite that makes All Day special, distracting the drinker from an otherwise ordinary pale ale session. Or, I should say elevating the drinker.  To wit, this is not some watery beer with flavor additive tricking you into thinking its good.  All Day is a seriously good beer cleverly wrapped in the superficial markings, to the untrained, of a low grade brew – low ABV, thin mouthfeel.

Here, the artistry is expressed not so much by what is in there but what is not: the malts are restrained, and its flavors and aromas highly concentrated.  A sip or two and 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 (Less filling!  Tastes great!).  Unlike its hoppier cousins, if you have two of these, which I did, you’re hardly underwater.  Not unless you weigh 102 pounds, which I clearly don’t.

In brewing, matching sessionability with quality takes great ingenuity.  In this regard Founders has nailed it with All Day.  And so goes my schooling.  I will now return to writing on the chalkboard, “I will not doubt Founders. I will not . . ”

–M. Sheppard