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Judge's Review: 79 Rating - Smallmouth Low-Cal IPA by Wallenpaupack Brewing Co.

August, 2020
Judges Rating: 
18 / 24
5 / 6
32 / 40
8 / 10
Overall Impression: 
16 / 20

Smallmouth Low-Cal IPA by Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. is an IPA (BJCP category 21A), but due to its small size it falls into the Specialty IPA subcategory (21B). Beyond being a session IPA, it’s also a low-cal IPA, which takes some extra work as it is about 20% lower calories than what a standard session IPA of similar ABV would have. I’m not sure what process Wallenpaupack took to get there, but what I’m most familiar with typically involves extra enzyme activity, which breaks down the complex sugar/carb strands from the malt into more easily digestible forms for the yeast. The downside is this tends to strip the beer of any body and cuts down the flavor (I’m looking at you Michelob Ultra). Fortunately, this beer is better crafted and is not watery or devoid of flavor.

It pours a brilliantly clear, deep straw color with a white head that fades, but does retain a low ring. The aroma is rather low, but there is light citrus zest (lemon, grapefruit), melon and a bit of earthiness from the hops. These are balanced by a moderately-low grainy, toasty malt character behind it. The flavor similarly has a low profile, but this tends to happen in low-cal beers and other low/no sugar food/beverages. This can make the bitterness exaggerated with less to compete with, but this beer does a great job of keeping it in balance but noticeable enough to know it is an IPA. It’s an easy-drinking summer quencher, but it is lacking some hop punch.