Broad Brook Brewing Chet’s Session IPA
One 16 oz can, $2.49, 5.2% ABV
Worldwide Wine & Spirits, Southington
This beer is a fine example of the evolution of beer… and marketing.
This beer began as “Chet’s Pale Ale,” and that’s what it was called when it was served on tap at the brewery. It was a perfectly fine pale ale. Nothing exciting, sure, but nothing off-putting about it either. Broad Brook described it thusly:
A light-colored ale with medium body and soft bitterness. The late addition of aroma hops as well as dry hopping, finish the beer off with a floral and fruity aroma of passion fruit, grapefruit, pineapple and grape.
Sounds delicious. (Although, I can’t say I’ve ever seen “grape” as part of a beer’s flavor profile before. Other than wacky Shebeen and their wacky Concord Grape Saison, but that doesn’t really count.) Back in its “pale ale” incarnation, Chet’s was listed at 5.4% ABV as well – it’s now listed at 5.2% which brings up the whole tired “what is sessionable” question, but that’s for another day.
Then the already-IPA-lovin’ world went full blown IPA crazy. And Broad Brook had beer to sell. And a new canning line.
And an idea. I’m guessing it went something like:
“Dude. We’re canning the Chet’s Pale Ale. It’s a solid beer and I stand behind it, but there’s just something missing.”
“Like what? It’s a strong seller in the tap room. We have the hop contracts to make it in the volume we’re looking at. I don’t want to change up the recipe.”
“No, no… I agree. It’s not the recipe. It’s… it’s something else.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Okay, look. I follow the craft beer world on Twitter and Untappd and stuff and I know that IPA’s sell way better than plain ol’ pale ales.”
“You know how to Twitter?”
“Huh? That wasn’t my point. Focus here. Listen to what I’m saying. How about… how about instead of ‘Chet’s Pale Ale’ we call it ‘Chet’s Session IPA’?”
“What the hell is a ‘session IPA’?”
“It’s a pale ale.”
“Just trust me on this one. Repeat after me: “Chet’s Session IPA, Chet’s Session IPA, Chet’s Session IPA.”
“But it’s just a pale ale.”
“Sigh. And look, we have to get the word ‘citrus’ in the description as well. Like, it now says, ‘passion fruit, grapefruit, pineapple and grape’, but that’s not good enough.”
“I’m still lost.”
“Here, watch this…”
Broad Brook (now) says:
A light-colored ale with medium body and soft bitterness. The late addition of aroma hops as well as dry hopping, finish the beer off with a floral and fruity aroma of passion fruit, grapefruit, pineapple, grape, lemongrass, tangerine and citrus flavors.
“You added ‘lemongrass, tangerine, and citrus’ to the description? That works?”
“I know. It’s also called marketing.”
And thus concludes that totally fictional conversation that has no basis in actual fact. For all we know, Broad Brook did change the recipe and added some Citra or something. I have no idea. [A reader whom I trust has assured me that they did change the recipe.] But I am secure in my opinion that “session IPA’s” are just pale ales and the majority of them use the “session IPA” moniker purely for marketing reasons.
Feel free to disagree. But just know that you’re disagreeing with none other than Matt Westfall:
Chet’s Whatever Ale is good and affordable and local and comes in nice 16-ounce cans and if you see it and are feeling like a lighter ale with wisps of those buzzwordy flavors you crave, you might as well grab some of this stuff.
Make Chet happy.
Overall Rating: B
Rating vs. Similar style: B