Founders All Day IPA is a light-by-design IPA that packs less of a boozy punch without sacrificing the aromatics or bitterness that are a trademark of the style. Its piney, dank flavor profile has bold flavors of lime zest with a long, bitter finish, but can also feel watery or thin to anyone who is a die-hard fan of the style.
Style: American IPA
Company: Founders Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
MSRP: $12 per 6-pack
- A low alcohol IPA with a lighter body and long, bitter finish
- Bright, refreshing, and easy-drinking
- Widely distributed and conveniently packed in larger quantities
- The beer’s assertively bitter flavor profile feels slightly dated.
- The “diet IPA” approach can make it feel thin and watery.
- The strong finish makes the beer slightly off-balance.
- Bitter hoppiness might be too aggressive for some.
Color: Crystal-clear and dark gold to amber in color when poured into a glass
Nose: Pungent pine notes and dankness leap from the glass when the beer is poured. There are hints of freshly cut grass, lime zest, cat urine from the Simcoe hops used, and a malty sweetness that peeks out from behind the brighter, more aggressive aromas.
Palate: The body of this IPA is so much lighter than others of the style that it brings carbonation more to the forefront of the palate. Its bold, hoppy flavors don’t feel as three-dimensional as fans of the style might hope for, but the fruity brightness helps to buoy the beer overall.
Finish: A long, lingering bitter finish grips the back of the tongue and reminds you that you are, in fact, drinking an IPA, but can also make it easier to hold off on taking another sip very quickly.
Though it couldn’t possibly have known this when the company chose its name, Founders Brewing has firmly established itself as one of the seminal founders of the American craft-beer resurgence. Since opening its doors in 1997, it has built and maintained a national profile—although lately, not without controversy—thanks to its diverse portfolio of year-round beers that includes everything from wildly popular stouts to bright fruit-flavored ales. And while it may not be the freshest thing coming out of Michigan, it’s arguably the most well-known.
What Founders All Day IPA set out to do when it was released more than half a decade ago was to solve a growing problem in the craft-beer community: How can you enjoy more than two of the hyper-popular hoppy ales without overindulging? Even when they’re below double IPA status, many beers in the style hover solidly between 6 and just over 7 percent alcohol by volume, making them a risky choice of beverage for long-running events such as watching an entire football game or spending a day at the beach.
All Day IPA represents the most successful—and at least in terms of wide availability, longest-surviving—releases that were part of a trend of sub-5% IPAs that could bring you the bitter, hoppy flavors you craved without sending you over the edge. The beer packs the familiar piney punch in aroma with the same bold, bitter flavors that make the style what it is. And considering that the beer sells for around $2 per can or bottle, it’s also a much more affordable option than most of the other beers on the shelves next to it, IPA or not.
But in achieving what it set out to do, it’s hard to look past the fact that the beer itself still feels a little thin and watery. The term “diet IPA,” which also emerged during the session trend as a pejorative, feels apt here, given how hollow some of the beer’s key characteristics come across compared to other brews that may only have a half-percentage-point-higher ABV. This becomes especially true when you taste it alongside the hazy, fruity, and smooth IPAs that dominate the market today: All Day focuses on the elements of the style that most beer drinkers now consider to be passe, with none of the malt balance or intriguing hop profiles that could really evoke nostalgia.
That being said, the beer’s lighter body allows it to be a uniquely refreshing way to have your IPA and quench your thirst, too. It’s also available in conveniently packaged 15-packs of cans that make it clear that this beer is meant to be enjoyed in more than one per sitting, making it a popular pick for beach outings, weekend trips to the ski house, and filling the fridge for your house party. It might not be the best beer for impressing an avowed hop head, but it certainly stands out as a much more flavorful option that won’t pack too much of a boozy punch.
As of 2018, All Day was the third best-selling IPA in the United States. It’s available in a 19.2-ounce tall can that its marketers say makes it uniquely portable for events such as hikes, picnics, or rafting trips where a lower-ABV beer may be a wiser option.
The bottom line: Founders All Day IPA may feel trapped in time from a recipe standpoint, but the beer achieves what it set out to do. The light-bodied beer is refreshing to the point of being slightly watery for the style, but it manages to hold back on the booziness and provide bright fruit flavors and bitterness for those looking to keep their wits about them while indulging their favorite style.