Session IPAs are all the rage these days. I’m guessing this is partially due to the fact that American breweries went so far towards high flavor/high ABV/high price, but also because American consumers are still obsessed with hops and IPAs.
The good news is that the style (which in some cases was just a regular old IPA back in 2006 when the BJCP ABV range for IPAs was 5-7.5%, but I digress) yields some pretty tasty beers. Among them are Stone’s Go-To IPA, Sam Adams’ Rebel IPA, Notch Brewing’s Left of the Dial, and today’s beer: Firestone Walker’s Easy Jack. Easy Jack is a session riff on Firestone’s Union Jack (which is one of the best IPAs out there). Given that I’ve never had a bad beer from Firestone Walker, I picked up a six pack and decided to try this new Jack.
A quick note about session beers: I heard somewhere – most likely from Chris at Notch – that you don’t really get the full flavor profile of a session beer until you’ve had a few of them. Assuming it was Chris that said it, that’s a helluva smart marketing ploy. Regardless of where I’ve heard it, my anecdotal evidence says that it is true. I tried it with Notch’s Left of the Dial (which isn’t called a session IPA, but it’s 4.3% so I’ll let someone else quibble over semantics). I tried one by itself and then a day later tried a few in a row. The first beer on the second day tasted like I remembered but as my palate acclimated to LotD I started to get a more pronounced taste for the different flavors in the beer.
“Cool story, bro. Why the sidenote?”
Because since this is a session beer I’m going to review this beer as a standalone first and then add some follow-up notes after I have two more. Since I’m drinking this during the Bruins game, I was planning on having a couple beers anyway (and swearing profusely at my television). So let’s dive in…
Appearance: Easy Jack is exceptionally clear and bright with a light straw color and a fluffy white head that leaves heavy lacing. I’d say it’s one or two notches darker than a Bud/Miller/Coors.
Aroma: Very nice light hoppy smell, with hints of citrus. Maybe some floral character as well. Not too strong. If you tilt the glass too far and get some in your nose, like I just did, you also get a nice bready malt smell, too.
Taste: Nice and quaffable, a very light IPA without tasting “watered down.” Citrus and floral hop flavor and a solid light malt background with maybe a touch of caramel sweetness.
Mouthfeel: Surprisingly full-bodied for such a light looking beer. Very nice carbonation and very smooth.
After two more Easy Jacks…
Appearance: Unsurprisingly, exactly the same.
Aroma: Largely the same; I don’t recall picking up any new scents. Possibly more citrus but I don’t think there was any change.
Taste: Okay, by the time I had the third Easy Jack I was noticing a much more pronounced citrus flavor, that was very strong on orange/tangerine with maybe a hint of mango as well. Much more dominant and flavorful than the first time around.
Mouthfeel: Again, unchanged. I really like the mouthfeel on this beer especially for a session.
FINAL VERDICT: I really enjoyed the Easy Jack (much more than the fucking Bruins game). I don’t think it is my favorite of the session IPAs; right now that is probably Stone’s Go To (though I’m still partial to Left of the Dial as well). I think this is right up there with the other beers I mentioned but there’s nothing about that leaps out as better than them. The only major difference is in the mouthfeel, which is surprisingly creamy for an IPA and even more so for a session beer. Really well done.