At this point, if I look at a beer list, the first thing I look for is a pale ale or a pilsner. I love .394. It’s a great beer. Just having a beer that’s got some hop character that isn’t 7% alcohol is kind of a nice thing.My exact thoughts on pale ales. Instead of always looking for a high octane double IPA, now I first seek out the pale ale options. I agree with Steele on his praise for AleSmith's .394 Pale Ale, it is one of the best beers ever brewed in San Diego. I still drink plenty of IPAs, but I am glad that pale ales are making a comeback.
Steele, while stating his affinity for session IPAs, nails their major flaw:
Honestly, I thought the session IPA craze was going to take off. I mean, if you talk to brewers, the brewers all love it. And that’s usually a pretty good indication if something is going to succeed or not. But the problem is that people are still buying on alcohol. They’re still looking at alcohol content when they buy. The thing I learned about session IPAs is that people look at the alcohol content and equate that with price. So, when you’re brewing a beer that’s equivalent to a double IPA as far as the hopping, but the alcohol level is below 5%, people are going to balk at paying an IPA price for it, which is a shame. I think it's a really neat style and I love it.To me, session IPAs are thin, one-dimensional beers that are boring after the first few sips. If you want a low alcohol beer, why settle for a session IPA? There are many low alcohol beer options that have more character and flavor than a session IPA. Reach for a wit, or a saison, or a pilsner instead, or, wait a minute, a order a pale ale!